THE BLOG
06/29/2016 12:29 pm ET Updated Jun 30, 2017

Easily Distracted by Shiny Objects: Are New Technologies Threatening Your Mobile Strategy?

Every day it seems like there's a new wave of game-changing technology being unleashed upon the world -- the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and chat bots. These and other nascent technologies are poised to completely transform the way we live and work -- and the enterprise is taking notice.

As more and more real life examples and implementations of these new technologies appear, it's only natural to connect the dots and imagine how they might benefit your company. But while every new advance brings exciting new opportunities, they also beg many questions.

How does this or that technology impact our mobile strategy? Is the old strategy now outdated? How should we adjust it? Should we combine our mobile and IoT efforts?

It's important to think about these and other questions before going all-in on the latest tech. Being early to market has its advantages, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges and costs.

In my experience, enterprises are better off building APIs and investing in a mature mobile strategy rather than chasing the latest tech trends. The reason is simple: at the end of the day, there are two trends that rule them all -- mobile and APIs.

Mobile becomes the primary user interface for everything

What is the future of mobile? It's the primary screen we will use to interact with everything.

Pick any emerging technology -- augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), IoT, chat bots, you name it -- and you'll find mobile at the center. Similarly, you'll notice they are all platforms that we, as people, use to interact with other people and/or systems. As a result, user experience is paramount.

When thinking about designing the UI/X for emerging AR/VR applications, AI or bots, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. All you need to do is replicate and/or extend the user experience you've already started perfecting in your mobile strategy.

For IoT it's not quite so simple, but mobile still plays a central role.

IoT is the connection of potentially even the smallest device to the internet. At home, this means bringing everyday analog objects like sprinklers and door locks online. For the enterprise, it can mean any multitude of objects, from sensors on the manufacturing plant floor, to connected level indicators in petroleum storage tanks, or smart HVAC systems that know when to heat or cool a room based on occupancy.

The point is that many IoT devices don't have an interface on the device itself. Instead, these devices are controlled and configured remotely -- via mobile devices.

APIs make it all possible

APIs are the backbone of digital business. They are the connective tissue enabling seamless, real-time interaction between digital products and services; the building blocks of the modern user experience. Without APIs, none of the technologies I've mentioned can exist.

In the early days, small-scale mobile and other digital strategies can hobble along without APIs. However, the moment these initiatives begin to scale, it becomes impossible to survive without them. Enterprise mobile apps rarely stand alone as self-contained apps anymore. Nowadays, they require integration with back-end systems and/or cloud services to accomplish even the most basic functions.

This is why, when looking at mobile platforms, you should avoid old-school, on-premise MEAP-style (mobile enterprise application platform) approaches at all costs. MEAP is a dead-end for any company looking to go beyond mobile and integrate other technologies into the user experience.

In today's digital world, it's all about cloud services and enterprise API platforms.

So when planning for the future, beware of technology ADHD. Chasing the latest trends is a losing strategy that will prevent you from focusing on the things that matter most in order to achieve success-- not only in mobility, but in IoT, AI, AR/VR and beyond as well.

By investing in robust and flexible mobile and API strategies today, you can adapt more easily tomorrow. Following this approach, you don't need to place a bet on any one technology. Instead, you can capture them all.