With the year winding down, it’s interesting to look back at what I was doing to begin 2014. Digging into my calendar revealed that at the beginning of this year, I spent much of my time practicing persuasion. I was trying to persuade people that a "heat transfer" was taking place inside of businesses, governments, and organizations of all kinds. That mobile devices were going to be a big part of enterprise computing and that enterprises were ready to embrace mobile. It was a given that mobile was "hot" in the tech industry, but the notion that it was ready for enterprise adoption wasn’t quite as obvious.
I spent a good portion of the last year meeting and listening to Red Hat’s customers, and in each one I’d bring up mobile – apps, phones, tablets – and ask "what do you think about them?" Most responded with something like "Steve, my colleagues from the various lines of business are all anxious to do something in mobile. I just don’t know how I’m going to manage all these apps and what they want to connect to."
It was conversations like these that convinced me this "heat transfer" was happening. As employees embraced mobile and wanted to use the devices in their jobs, all those trends – the explosion of devices, "bring your own device" – were going to result in enterprises needing to extend their applications to mobile devices for their employees and partners.
This year Red Hat accelerated our move into the enterprise mobile market with the acquisition of FeedHenry and the timing couldn’t be better. Recently Red Hat asked a group of 115 customers – ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses – about their priorities for 2015. The number one answer was "mobility (and mobile apps)" at 69 percent of respondents. One word summed up how I felt – gratified.
What makes FeedHenry both a great technology for our customers and a great fit for Red Hat is that it has long embraced the idea that mobile will help drive business success and that open and cloud technologies are fundamental to mobile-first strategies. Deeper than that, FeedHenry understood that, despite the so-called consumerization of IT, enterprise apps differ considerably from the Flappy Bird type apps in their need to securely integrate with back-end systems, unleashing the value of corporate data to users, regardless of device.
Moreover, FeedHenry realized that one of the top capabilities of an enterprise mobile application platform would be to connect to core enterprise systems—many of which are built on modern middleware technology like Red Hat JBoss Middleware—to extend business processes, integrate with other applications, leverage data, etc. The FeedHenry architecture is built to work with and complement these technologies, and it runs in the cloud, extending the value and efficiency of enterprise PaaS like OpenShift by Red Hat to mobile apps.
Moreover, most company IT departments aren’t yet used to working as fast as mobile moves. The statistics bear this out – new research by Opinion Matters on behalf of OutSystems reveals that "85 percent of enterprises have a mobile app development backlog." I believe this is primarily because the average app takes between three and twelve months to produce, and it’s not without good reason – security, connecting to enterprise applications, and data that cannot be disrupted. Yet with the right platform that manages those connections and manages the security, those same enterprises can cut that average. How much? In some cases, "one-time use" apps can be built in a single day.
I think that mobile "heat transfer" is going to be speeding up in the new year and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.