Orlando, Fla. — Kony, Inc. burnished its mobile development credentials this week at the Kony World conference here, detailing new updates to its visual tools and platform, expanding its partner ecosystem, and launching a new enterprise mobile app marketplace with the debut of CRM app Kony Sales.
The combined efforts are designed to help businesses gain enterprise-grade mobile productivity fast, leveraging central services and automation, embracing all end-points from a common code base, and encouraging users themselves to tweak their apps best.
“We are going to do to mobile what Salesforce did to web apps with Force,” said Kony CEO Tom Hogan at the Orlando conference, one of three Kony user gatherings set for 2015, with the others soon in Frankfurt and Dubai.
Hogan encouraged enterprise IT leaders to not force their users to make compromises as they seek mobile apps for extending and improving their business processes. Enterprise business users want to have their native interface usability benefits, but developers need to enjoy cross-platform benefits to deliver their apps with speed and security. They can both get their way, says Hogan. [Disclosure: Kony is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
“Consumers won’t tolerate the pace of enterprise IT,” said Hogan, pointing out that demand for mobility has led IDC to predict that 25 percent of IT budgets by 2017 will go to supporting the mobile enterprise.
Trouble in mobile pursuits
At the same time, says IDC, 50 percent of enterprises are having trouble linking mobile front ends to the rest of IT. This is where Kony is focusing its efforts, to bridge the divide between what users demand and enterprises can responsibly deliver in enterprise mobility.
Competitive pressures are trumping IT efficiency, forcing a higher pace and larger budgets to attain effective mobility, says Hogan. A leading mobility analyst agrees.
“We are at the end of the golden age of the standalone app,” Forrester Principal Analyst Jeffrey Hammond told the Kony user crowd. “Instead, we’re now in a mobile mind shift, with the vast majority of users already on mobile devices,” he said.
Forrester surveys show that “improving customer experience” in using mobile apps is now much higher among the very top of planned business initiatives, says Hammond.
Factoring “effectiveness, ease, and emotion” are keys to designing good mobile apps, he continued, adding that business should “own an equal share of determining a mobile strategy. … By doing this, you actually help IT get the job done better,” says Hammond.
A big hold-up for mobile apps velocity, however, is the need to code each of multiple end-point platforms, says Hammond. Continuous delivery and fast feedback via analytics is only just beginning but is essential for mobile apps development in-house at enterprises.
To do rapid test and release mobile app dev — and to gain that feedback loop — enterprises need force multipliers like stronger tools and platforms with automation, says Hammond. They also need to gain more of the skills needed for a mobile-first capability.
“Kony MobileFabric is a good example of the kind or architecture enterprises need to do proper mobile development,” says Hammond.
That’s behind the Kony drive to expand its role in a lifecycle approach to enterprise mobile attainment, as the company announced a growing ecosystem of partners that are offering new “ready to run” applications via Kony’s cloud-based business mobile app marketplace.
The Kony Marketplace offers a collection of ready to run apps, reusable components, and design templates. These allow the growing list of partners to speed the process of adopting and delivering mobile apps to meet business demand.
The new partners, who will offer their solutions throught the marketplace include: Broadstrokes, Factual, InfoStretch, Knack, PopcornApps, Quinscape, Redora, Softechnologies, Splyt, Stefinini, UST Global, VeraSynth, and ZineOne.
“Industry experts are predicting that the demand for mobile apps will dramatically increase for enterprise organizations in the next few years,” said Burley Kawasaki, Kony senior vice president of products. “To meet this demand, enterprises are looking for ways to empower their businesses to rapidly deliver secure, enterprise-level mobile apps with great user experiences. Our goal is to provide a rich collection of pre-built apps and app models through the Kony Marketplace, which they can use to quickly build their mobile apps.”
Mobile apps are way different
And these new mobile apps need to be designed differently, because they are different. They are typically situational, with dynamic requirements, in high demand, possibly throw-away, and often like consumer apps, said Van Baker, Gartner vice president and leading mobility analyst, to the Kony World crowd on Thursday.
User experience is the key, echoed Baker for other speakers at the conference. “User centricity is the only option. It must bring the relevant information to the user in a relevant fashion,” he said. And so mobile technology needs to adapt to people, not the other way around, he says.
And today’s mobile apps are just a stepping stone. By 2017, 50 percent of today’s deployed mobile apps will be rewritten or replaced, said Baker.
Traditional IT is being shunted aside by those who will get their mobile apps one way or another. Indeed, shadow IT spending is going to 50 percent, and so will be the third largest IT budget item, said Baker.
So IT needs to deliver tools to the enterprise that business analysts can use to make mobile apps, IT will not keep up using waterfall-style code-based development, says Baker. So IT will end up surrendering the client development to business analysts using visual tools, concludes Gartner’s Baker
Other predictions from Baker: By 2018, more than half of all business to employee mobile apps will be created by business analysts with codeless tools like Kony’s. And by 2020, web- and mobile-style app integration will have fully displaced traditional approaches, he said.
That jibes well with what researcher IDC has predicted, that the number of apps optimized for mobility will quadruple by 2016.
Given this sea-change in the enterprise, Kony has moved quickly to help businesses provide mobile-first apps for their sales teams. Kony this week released its first ready to run Kony Sales app suite, featured in the new Kony Marketplace. The mobile productivity extension app for SAP and Salesforce allows sales representatives to:
- Increase sales rep productivity
- Manage tasks and follow-ups
- Accelerate pipeline activity
- Manage leads, accounts, opportunities and contacts, and
- Work offline to capture information while traveling, and then sync it to the back-end once they return to the office.
Built on top of Kony’s Mobility Platform and composed with Kony Modeler, the Kony Sales app can be easily extended, configured and customized by business analysts and sales operations personnel. Kony Sales is optimized for iOS and Android phones and tablets, and has the ability to receive upgrades while preserving customizations.
Expect more business-centric apps like Kony Sales soon, targetng such arenas as finance and healthcare. Kony’s ISV partners will help drive the creation of these market-driven apps, said Kony officials.
Composition tool set
Also available this week is Kony Modeler, a powerful visual, composition toolset for business users to assemble and configure mobile-first apps from reusable, lightweight app models available in Kony’s app marketplace. With Kony Modeler business users can rapidly customize their apps for unique industry requirements, business units and processes, and then immediately deploy the changes to end-users on iOS or Android phones and tablets.
Powered by Kony MobileFabric, the enterprise mobile back-end services platform, has also been extended with the addition of a brand new App Services layer that enables IT to power these model-driven applications and allows them to be configured and deployed to the cloud. It enables rapid customization, automatic upgrades and versioning, and significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for ongoing app maintenance.
“We are really excited about our partnership with Kony and our presence in the Kony Marketplace,” said Debjani Deb, CEO and co-founder of ZineOne, a real-time mobile messaging platform. “Our solution helps businesses increase conversions on mobile by instrumenting their app with our light-weight, easy-to-use SDK. This enables them to actually have real-time conversations with their customers within the app itself to enhance experience and increase engagement.”
“Knack Systems is happy to partner with Kony to bring enterprise mobility solution to its customers. Organizations currently using SAP solutions will be able to quickly empower their mobile workforce by leveraging Kony’s flexible mobile platform and solutions fully integrated with their SAP ERP and CRM solutions,” said George Kaadi, Managing Director Client Services and CIO Advisory, Knack Systems. “Knack Systems is a niche consulting firm with experience in SAP and Kony technologies that helps customers to enable their mobile workforce to be more efficient and provide better customer experience.”
As enterprises adopt more of a strategic approach to mobility, they change the way they do business, not just attach new front ends to business services, says Forrester’s Hammond.
Developers that bring the most context to the mobile app and associated processes wins, said Hammond at Kony World. Think mobile-first, but make sure it’s part of a true enterprises mobility strategy, including the inout from both IT and business, he said.
Looking to the future, Kony expects even more end-points to enter the picture — from wearables and the Internet of Things — and need to be addressed with a rapid app development capability. Forrester agrees.
“Expect with wearables a shift from mobile moments to micro moments to hold a user’s attention,” says Hammond.
Yet even as the complexity around mobility increases, enterprises are still confronted with the need to get their essential mobile apps to market faster, to modernize their mobile apps lifecycle, and to gain and embed the ability to constantly revise and adjust mobile apps amid myriad back-end services and APIs.
It’s into this opportunity that Kony is focused and building global momentum, said Hogan in summing up the conference.
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