10 enterprise app trends to look out for in 2016

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We have come a long, long way since the early days of apps. Whilst some of the early apps were ‘smart’, we are now moving to the age of intelligent apps, where they appear to think for themselves a bit more. The rise of digital personal assistants, background monitoring and activity, deep linking between apps and new technologies mean that apps can do more than ever before. 

Whilst in the early days, apps helped to reduce the amount of data required to load content, now the amount of hardware and operating level features that apps utilise mean we are swiftly moving towards new methodologies and approaches for apps.

Shift from sticky to slippy UX app design

In the early days of apps, where experiences could largely only happen in-app, designers and developers created ‘sticky’ apps. This design philosophy was about creating experiences designed to keep people in apps for as long as possible. With free apps, this was seen as even more of a priority as it was a chance to serve advertising and help monetise efforts.

Changes and improvements to the base level of mobile operating systems mean apps can now do more in the background. These include interactive notifications, background monitoring and data usage, interapp linking and new location-based enhancements driven by advances to both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies.

Slippy UX could also be described as contextual design, or ambient user experience; all are effectively the same idea of enabling users to do what they need to do in a simpler way. Foursquare is a prime example of a slippy UX, where recommendations are triggered based on where a user is, without them needing to be in the app. 

Personal assistants get more intelligent

For a number of years now, developers have been hoping to be able to tap into more of the functionality of Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Whilst Cortana and Google Now are more open, 2016 could be the year that we see these personal assistants gain the ability to truly be smart.

With the latest OS versions, search capabilities have been extended to start supporting the ability to find information or take actions. In the case of iOS, HomeKit makes it possible to control lighting, heating and security systems by using Siri, without opening apps. When Apple introduced the new Apple TV earlier this year, it gave a peak into a possible future. Already with the Apple TV, Siri is more integrated with third party services such as Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and Showtime. 

Demand for enterprise apps continues to grow

Gartner predicts that by 2017, demand for enterprise app development will outstrip supply by five times capacity. At the same time, research from IDC last year revealed that there will be a 400% growth in the number of enterprise software applications that will be mobile-optimised by 2016. This raises both the issue that more development skill is required to create enterprise apps — with specific skills around security, integration, design and development — and that modern mobile thinking is starting to mature within enterprise.

Indoor location improves

Earlier this year, Apple released Indoor Survey, an app to help measure indoor location routes. The app works by the user dropping points on a map to indicate their position. As they walk through a venue, the app measures the data from the iPhone’s sensors and RF strength to work out routes and positioning, without using special hardware.

Elsewhere, companies like SenionLab are leading the way with indoor location accuracy, using Beacon technology to triangulate where a user is, with pinpoint precision. Wi-Fi companies have also been seeking to improve the indoor location accuracy over the past year. For the past few years, companies have been trying to crack the indoor location issue. 2016 looks like it could be the year that technology and infrastructure catches up.

Bluetooth’s importance in IoT grows

In 2016, Bluetooth will be capable of longer ranges, greater speeds, lower latencies and mesh networking — in other words, the type of advances needed for IoT applications. One of the key advantages to the new Bluetooth, as opposed to Wi-Fi or cellular IoT, is that it is lower cost and is able to utilise licence free spectrum.

By incorporating support for IPv6 and 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over Low Power over Wireless Personal Area Networks) Bluetooth 4.2 will become one of the key technologies for the smart grid and within Internet of Things applications.

Data regulations get more focus

Recently, it was announced that the Safe Harbour deal between the US and EU is invalid. The Safe Harbour deal was in place to make it easy to store and share personal data between EU countries and the US. There are over 4,000 companies registered under the Safe Harbour agreement, including Apple, LinkedIn, Adobe, Coca-Cola Enterprises and the Ford Motor Company.

This will become one of the big challenges for companies over the coming year, especially as many of the services they use may need to change where and how data is stored. For many other companies, especially in heavily regulated industries, such as the finance or legal industries, rules have meant that data needs to be stored locally.

All of this also leads to issues when employees use apps and services that may well violate rules. As part of the increased investment in mobility programmes, companies will be seeking to solve the challenges that data regulations and rules present.

Mobility programmes grow

Companies are continuing to invest in upgrades to their infrastructure and middleware that enables mobility across their organisation. Already, we have seen the number of companies looking for programmes, rather than projects, increase as we draw towards 2016. 

To help prepare for this increase in skills, 2016 will see an increase in spending on mobility programmes, where companies look to consultancy to help them decide which priorities they should tackle first. In addition, an increasing number of companies will view mobile as an essential part of any digital or business transformation, rather than viewing it in silo.

Companies focus more on algorithms

It’s no secret that algorithms are key to successful digital companies. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter and others all have an army of algorithms that process data in ways that benefit both their end users and internal operations. With the avalanche of data that mobile produces, companies in all industries are turning their attention to algorithms as part of their backend infrastructure and cloud based processing of data.

As apps continue to become more intelligent, companies that invest in and utilise algorithms to process data will have more chance of succeeding; especially if they deliver value to users.

Universal apps, everywhere

When Microsoft announced Windows 10, the company said that apps for its platform could be created to run universally across all of its various devices. Of course, what this actually means is designing apps to change or respond to the different devices running Windows 10; including the Xbox, Windows 10 smartphones, Windows 10 tablets, Windows 10 on Hololens Windows 10 laptops and Windows 10 desktop computers. As each of these devices have different input options and screen sizes, developers can’t just design an app once; they have to think about how it will look, and work, on each device.

This year has also seen the number of iOS devices increase, with Apple TV, Apple Watch and iPad Pro all meaning that the span of devices that iOS, or at least a variant of iOS runs on many different screen sizes and device types. Whilst Apple isn’t going down the same ‘universal’ route, developers can still create an app that runs from iPhone up to iPad Pro and even include an Apple Watch version.

With the increased number of mobile device types and sizes, and the way in which mobile OSes are now underpinning everything from cars to TVs, we’re increasingly seeing apps needing to respond to the device they are on.

Security takes higher priority for IoT

In the past year alone, we have seen a number of high profile IoT hacking issues. Fiat Chrysler had to recall 1.4 million vehicles, after two hackers demonstrated the ability to remotely manipulate a Jeep Cherokee’s transmission, radio, air conditioning and other systems. A cybersecurity consultant was also detained by the FBI after he claimed to have hacked into computer systems aboard airliners up to 20 times.

More recently, it was revealed that some of the leading connected baby monitors, which let parents to check on their newborns via a live-stream to their phones or computers, were easy to hack into.

Whilst enterprise deployments of IoT will generally have a higher level of security than consumer deployments, the more connected businesses become, the more emphasis needs to be put on security. 

You can find out more about predictions for 2016 here.

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