In this post, I'll drill a bit into the final of the 3 areas SRT is investing in for 2013: Continuous Client Experience.
Users are now expecting that their experience, their work, and their data follows them from one device to the next. It's not enough to have a presence on mobile, web, and desktop. It's important that users have a seamless experience as they move from one device to the next.
One high profile example is Netflix. I can start a movie on my laptop. When I get home, I can switch to my Roku and have the movie pick up in exactly the same location. My picks are the same on my phone as on the living room device. We just expect that experience to move from device to device.
OneNote provides similar behavior as a productivity application. My notes automatically sync in the cloud. As I move from machine to machine, or to my phone, all my data just follows. The newest version of OneNote doesn’t even have a “save” command. My work just moves to the cloud on a regular basis.
All the applications we are now writing for business users demand the same kind of synchronization. It's driving several design decisions.
We're putting data in the cloud, where it's accessible from multiple devices. We're putting more effort into how we synchronize data. We're putting thought into server side data crunching and client side rendering. We're designing applications that have more and more of their algorithms in the cloud. That lets us develop more and more of the functionality for a single server platform. Each client has a smaller footprint and less device specific code. That lowers the cost of creating a great experience on each device. Finally, we're investing in making great offline experiences that synchronize data when the device notifies applications that a network is available.
Put all these areas together, and we believe we're well positioned for an exciting 2013. There are major shifts underway in our industry, and we intend to stay at the forefront.
Last time I gave an overview of the areas where we’re making significant investments in 2013. In these posts, I’ll go into some detail on each of the areas where we’re investing. This is somewhat difficult, because our view is that all these areas work together to provide the right experience for users and customers. I’ll return to that in my final post on our investments this year.
The first area I mentioned was Mobile. Mobile applications help you reach your customers in more places and for more time. Your customers are on the move. They are using multiple devices. To deepen your relationship with this customers, you need a quality presence in all the places your customers are.
But, creating a mobile presence isn’t simply recreating your entire application presence on a phone. If you’re going to smartly leverage Mobile, you need to reimagine your application, or your web presence in terms of a mobile device.
The main goal of a mobile application is to reach your customers where ever they are. The only way to succeed in that is to reach them with what they want to do when they have that device. Are they going to do the same tasks they perform when at your website? Or a subset? Or are there tasks that only make sense when they are using the mobile device?
We try to create mobile apps that have these properties:
Only when a new mobile application exhibits these properties does it justify the investment. We don’t create mobile apps just to mark the checkbox. They must provide true value on the platform.
At SRT, we continuously examine the overall technology landscape and make decisions on where to invest more time, what should stay the same, and what should be getting less investment. The change is actually quite fluid. We are always looking at what can help our customers achieve their goals, and what technologies seem to be getting less emphasis in the future.
But, the beginning of the year seems to be the right time to make a statement for the coming year. Here goes:
We’re seeing three areas that deserve big investments this year: Mobile, Single Page Web Applications, and the seamless integration of user experiences.
Let’s start with mobile: We’ve been building mobile applications for years, and demand continues to grow. There is obvious growth for iPhones, iPads, Android Phones, and Droid tablets. Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 tablets are adding strong competition as well. There are a number of questions relating to how much market share each of these platforms will enjoy. But there is no question that the overall market for mobile software is growing, and growing quickly.
But mobile is only half (or one third) of the story.
Our customers demand that users access applications from their main computer as well as from their mobile device. Modern web applications, termed “Single Page Applications” behave more and more like desktop applications everyday. Facebook and Gmail are the two most popular examples. These web applications provide an almost native experience in the browser.
This gets to the final and encompassing strategy decision: Applications we’re building now must be available to users on any device, at any time. Data must be available on the web, on mobile devices, or on the desktop/laptop. The best apps can move seamlessly from device to device. That requires building applications that are part mobile, part web, part cloud, and always available from anywhere.
We’ve positioned ourselves to build those applications. We’ve got strengths on mobile platforms, web platforms, cloud platforms, and most importantly, building applications that span those different environments.
In my next few posts, I’ll go into more detail on each of these three topics: why they are important, and how to learn more about each of these topics. In the meantime, what do you think? Are these where you’re investing? Do these ideas represent the kinds of applications you want to use? Leave comments.
All of these projects are Open Source (using the Creative Commons license for content, and the MIT license for code). If you would like to contribute, visit our GitHub Repository. Or, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for improvement, please create an issue for us.