Data Analytics and Visualizations Blog | MicroStrategy
Mobility Trends

The Case for a Code-Free Mobile Platform: Why More Technical Means Less Innovation

The BI and analytics software space is expected to hit nearly $27 billion by 2020, and companies have a huge opportunity to democratize analytics through the concept of “self-service” BI. No longer the domain of IT departments and PhD-holding data scientists, data has become ubiquitous -- and that’s even truer with the rise of mobile within the enterprise. But what happens when everyone wants access to mobile data, yet only the technically trained are in charge of creating apps? 

There’s a risk to operating this way. According to Gartner, demand for mobile applications will overcome internal IT departments’ ability to create them at a rate of 5 to 1. If creating those apps is limited to a small IT team hand-coding each custom request, development will fall behind. In fact, an earlier Gartner survey found most organizations have created fewer than 10 applications, or none at all.

Even after all the coding is done, these apps may not be what business users need. Or, if their requests for an app languish for long enough, these users may purchase un-approved, siloed software on their own or pay expensive third-party contractors to build one. Companies can solve this frustration by empowering company innovators to pursue their mobile app ideas, regardless of their level of technical training—which means innovation isn’t siloed within the IT department.

Enter the concept of code-free development, which provides a self-service approach to creating native mobile applications. This click-to-figure approach allows non-technical users to build applications in an extremely visual way by dragging and dropping desired app elements, such as data visualizations, geospatial analysis, or multimedia. They can even add transactional elements like a photo uploader or survey forms. With a few clicks, non-IT users can build very useful native apps to support their business workflows.

Some code-free mobile platforms build HTML5 apps, but as we all know, HTML5 relies on Internet connectivity and can be slow—and users will ditch unresponsive apps that frustrate them. Native, code-free mobile apps are a much stronger choice, since they can cache information for better performance and don’t rely on a 3G/4G or WiFi connection to run. Typically, building a native app would take an IT department months to custom code. But with access to the right data sources and a code-free development environment, business users can create apps that meet their specific needs.

For example, imagine that a large retail brand’s regional manager is looking to report to the national manager. She wants to know which stores in her region are doing well or struggling, and which items are the most popular. This manager could spin up an application that pulls in information from both the POS and inventory systems. That app could then be pushed out to store managers’ in-store iPhones. Those managers in turn would track sales, know when and what to replenish on the shelves, and keep an eye on KPIs. Of course, the IT team would need to grant access to the right sources to specific users. But, with proper access to those sources, the regional manager has effectively created an app by herself that not only benefits the regional business, but empowers her to report to executives globally.

Many organizations already use self-service BI tools, and mobile capabilities ensure that users can access data on the go. Code-free development adds an additional layer to a data-empowered, self-service approach, ensuring that everyone can easily build apps that meet their unique needs. A retail store manager may want to look at sales and inventory analysis while out on the selling floor, just as much as the VP of merchandising wants to do so at her desk. If a business breaks mobile apps free from the restrictions of custom IT design, then they empower all departments and teams to use mobile analytics to do their jobs better.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can use MicroStrategy to develop code-free mobile apps, I encourage you to look into our on-site 3-day mobile app workshop.

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