When customized mobile apps became a critical business feature for enterprises, developers quickly realized the need for scalable, cross-platform compatibility. Software engineers specializing in these apps faced serious challenges when they were forced to use development tools specific to iOS, Android or other platforms. Their work essentially needed to be performed twice if an app was going to run well on both mobile operating systems.
As a result, environments known as Mobile Consumer Application Platform (MCAP), Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) and later Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP) emerged as major market forces at around the turn of the decade.
One-Stop Shops for Smarter Apps
Using rich contextual user experiences to maximize reach, MCAP was conceived in 2008 as a one-stop platform for developers building consumer apps. In parallel, MEAP was created to solve the same problem, but with a focus on enterprises.
Both MCAP and MEAP offered abstracted (“middleware”) forms of development that allowed coders to develop mobile apps without the need to create separate products for different operating systems, and with the ability to integrate additional apps and leverage devices’ native sensors : powerful stuff for its time.
Soon MCAP and MEAP merged to be known under the more general moniker MADP, carrying the same fundamentals of MCAP and MEAP but now addressing all types of apps, including B2C, B2E and B2B.
Limitations of MCAP, MEAP and MADP
MADP provides a single solution for an enterprise to build any kind of mobile app, but it does so by utilizing older models for deploying software, failing to integrate with the multitude of data sources that today’s apps need to access. Moreover, these architectures are not flexible and ultimately could not keep up with the pace of mobile device technology’s advancement.
Since the apps supported by MADP were built using proprietary technologies, publishers and engineers soon realized that they would be locked into a particular’s vendor’s solution. As organizations got smarter and more mature in the way they approached mobile, demand grew for a more open solution.
Why BaaS Makes Sense but Still Doesn’t Solve It All
As an alternative, in the past three or so years, many organizations have begun using a combination of cross-platform app development platforms as well as Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) providers to get around MADPs. BaaS doesn’t provide client-side app development tools, but at least it works with cloud technologies, so apps powered by BaaS are flexible and versatile.
However, today’s enterprises that need mobile app solutions still face challenges with BaaS. Development platforms powered by BaaS are only partial solutions, as multi-device compatible frontend interfaces still need to be coded. Although the emergence of BaaS does mean that better apps can be built quickly with fewer software engineers, filling in the development gaps isn’t easy given today’s talent shortages.
Why Platform-as-a-Service is the Next-Generation Solution
There’s a conceptual flaw at play here too, though. A good enterprise app is more than simply a portable, digital way to render existing static business processes more efficient. A good enterprise app gives management the opportunity to re-envision and re-create business processes around mobility. With this in mind, the business operations experts are the ones who have the knowhow and the vision to implement these types of dynamic changes, so they’re the ones who need the ability to execute changes in their apps’ user experience. Coders simply aren’t the right people for the job.
A new type of platform, leveraging all the benefits of older solutions from MADP to BaaS, has emerged to meet demand for this level of versatility. This new breed, the comprehensive Mobile App Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), comes with advanced codeless development capabilities that allow business domain experts to design, build and deploy mobile apps for any organization.
Is PaaS Right for Your Company’s Needs?
For many enterprises, a cloud-ready backend with a custom-coded frontend is all it takes to roll out a viable mobile app. In some cases, developers need a full-fledged, robust, and flexible Rapid Mobile App Development (RMAD) Platform. At other companies, on the other hand, it’s essential to put full control of the product in the hands of “citizen developers,” people who don’t know how to write code but have business management vision.
With a solid PaaS solution like appsFreedom in place, enterprises can design, build, deploy, rinse and repeat as much as management likes. If you’re interested to see how appsFreedom can work for your company, test drive our RMAD platform today.