What is the next big thing in the Apps space after mobile apps stores?

This was the big discussion point in this week Information Management DM Radio show where I participated together with the always inspiring DM Radio hosts Eric Kavanagh, BI analyst Cindi Howson from BI Scorecard, and two vendor specialists, John Callan of QlickView and Randal Hoff of FairCom.

Here are a few of my takeaways from the discussion:

If you divide todays applications into a three classes: 1) large enterprise apps (ERP, CRM, etc.), 2) cloud apps (expense reporting, HR, etc.), and 3) the mobile apps popping up in iPhone and Android mobile apps stores, you will find that there is a 4th application need that is not addressed by any of the classes above.

Every company has its own environment of data sources, documents, applications and customized processes around them, so none of the standard apps will cut it. At the same time building specialized data-centric apps will, unless widely needed, be too expensive and take too much time with traditional IT (Internal or outsourced) resources.

I refer to this as the “Unmet Application Need”, applications too expensive to build with traditional methods given their business value, but also too company specific to ever make it into a mainstream app store.

We discussed how this market today is somewhat covered by BI vendors, like QlikView, but in many cases BI technologies still cannot access or deliver all the relevant data and/or perform automated action on the results. BI solutions are often only a half solution.

To meet the unmet application need, an application must be very easy to build at low cost and it must cover all the functions:

  • Access data (from a variety of internal and external sources)
  • Explore the data,
  • Select data for further action
  • Perform action on the selected data
  • Deliver data (write data to other systems or share with other participants)

Access and the delivery of data can be very challenging. I mentioned how Synthetic APIs can resolve this challenge with the ability to bi-directionally interface with applications without APIs as if they were normal APIs.

I also mentioned how agile development and distribution of lightweight enterprise data apps through enterprise app libraries can meet the ever changing need coming from the impatient business users.

We talked about how these kinds of solutions are priced. I said that contrary to large enterprise apps, where the ROI on a single app justifies the entire investment, for the lightweight and specialized apps, the ROI is in a platform that can quickly deliver multiple apps, and the combined business value of multiple apps will more than pay for the investment.

Finally we discussed what the future will bring. Several of us mentioned that we are only in the infancy for covering this market need, and awareness created by the Radio show today will help accelerate this huge potential market.

You can listen to the entire radio show here.


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