Will Enterprise Be the Game Changer for HTML5 and Tablet Apps?

September 27, 2011 by Lisa Oshima | Enterprise, Mobile

I’m at the second day of GigaOm’s Mobilize 2011, listening to the “Will Enterprise be the Game Changer for HTML5 and Tablet Apps” Panel with moderator Nathan Clevinger, Chief Software Architect, ITR Mobility. The panelists are:

  • Santiago Becerra – Co-Founder and CEO, MeLLmo
  • Adam Blum – CEO, Rhomobile
  • Chris Kemmerer – Director, Mobility SOlutions, Verizon
  • Sean Whiteley – SVP, Salesforce.com

Here are my live notes… The conversation kicked off with a discussion on the consumerization of IT… Whiteley talked about Touch.salesforce.com was announced earlier this year, building the application from the ground up to account for an expanding world of appliances. They’re trying to find a balance between user experience and the infrastructure enterprises need.

Becerra talked about the importance of setting up a new team to focus on HTML5 apps and build from scratch – a SWAT team to embrace web technologies. “Realizing that the user experience is the key driver/ the key success factor is important. If you set up a new team of engineers supported by a few designers at the end, it will fail… You need to think of a completely new way of staffing your projects…”

Kemmerer agrees with Becerra. He talks about how organizations that think differently about web-based apps for enterprise will succeed. Adopting the concept of incubation… whether it’s bringing in resources from the outside or setting up new teams is critical… When you look at how consumer apps are developed… They start with a story board and a user experience… And then they go off and develop. It’s the opposite in business…You start with the application, and then you think about the user… That’s starting to change. Companies are starting to first think about the user.”

Blum talks about the importance of leveraging the device and thinking of creative ways to do things… Leveraging the way people are used to doing things on smartphones. Most of the big IT apps he’s seeing don’t resemble any of the consumer apps that are proving so popular on the app store. This should change.

Whiteley says Salesforce is building native apps so that they can take full advantage of devices. However, they’re leveraging HTML5 to make it work better across platforms. “HTML5 maybe the thing [in the future], but it’s not there yet. We are building an HTML5 app, but we’re also building native apps to drive the experience people are expecting right now.”

Blum talks about how you can build real native apps using HTML5 with a fantastic user experience. HTML5 for the interface is great, but it doesn’t give you all of the device capabilities, so he encourages people to take advantage of HTML5 but also think native.

Kemmerer talks about the importance of being able to perform tasks locally, not just in the cloud. Becerra says, “it’s really all about the user experience and performance.”

Blum says, “In 2011, if you’re an objective C developer, you’re going to get so much more done… using HTML5… It’s not really HTML5 vs. Native. It is about native apps, you need device capabilities, but it’s easy if you’re using Rhodes or PhoneGap to use this whole ecosystem of tools that’s built up around HTML5. It’s about native but leveraging HTML5.”  Becerra agrees saying that it is about leveraging both worlds, but says, “if you’re looking for a high end experience, you really have to go native.”

The conversation moves to discussion of tablets…

Kemmerer talks about how many organizations are looking at tablets as laptop replacements… a “tablet enablement strategy.”

Becerra believes that it’s not cost that drives the tablet strategy in the enterprise. He thinks it is helped by the smaller form factor and ease of display that allows sales people and others to casually show presentation materials to others without pulling out a heavy laptop.

Whiteley talks about how sales force views tablets. “The tablet affords a whole new type of work flow that allows field service agents to… do approvals and speed along their processes… Tablets are making people more efficient… customers are demanding it, so we’re putting a lot of emphasis on it…”  He says that most salespeople at salesforce carry a tablet, not a PC.

Kemmerer says, “When you look at tablets and the changing of your workflows, you’re able to tie in clear productivity enhancements…”  Accelerating approvals, bringing remote experts into a mobile, etc. You’re able to find true ROI with tablets.

Blum talks about how tablets allow you to do more interesting things because you can do drag and drop, display three panes, etc. “It’s moved so fast, and it’s such a new form factor, that it’s the developers that are writing the rules. It’s exciting to see the innovation.”

Whiteley thinks tablets are changing the way people design apps. You’re seeing less whole page refreshes and more parts of the app that refresh. “It’s disruptive and will continue to be that way.”

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