Why HTML5 is now the best option for developing enterprise apps

March 19, 2013

With the recently exponential growth in smartphone and tablet usage, there has been a concurrent boom in the number of native mobile apps available to users for personal and professional use.

In the workplace, developers have been very successful at taking a desktop experience and making it touch-enabled for tablet users. Though functional, these apps are often very generic, require significant development, and don’t cater to multi-domain workflows.

Behind the scenes, developers have been tracking the improvement of another type of mobile app: HTML5 apps. It’s no secret that until recently, these apps lacked several critical features that would make them viable replacements for native apps, resulting in a gap between the two platforms.

Today, many of those issues have been resolved. For example, HTML5 apps now have the ability to detect a user’s location, store data locally on the device, and access information on a the device like contacts and downloads.

Soon the decision to build a native or HTML5 app won’t be determined exclusively by which platform delivers the best user experience since both will provide the desired speed, aesthetics, and ease-of-use.

As the two platforms – native and HTML5 – become equally robust, companies will opt for the option that:

  1. Requires the least amount of development

  2. Meets the needs of as many employees as possible

Why HTML5 apps have an edge

Ultimately, it comes down to choosing the platform that results in the lowest total cost to the company and that still drives greater productivity, revenue, etc.

In this scenario, HTML5 apps have a leg up for one main reason: the multiplier effect

Companies can’t get away with creating just one or two apps in the enterprise. Every employee has a different set of daily and weekly workflows even if two employees use the same software as a service (SaaS) tools on a regular basis. Therefore, companies developing effective mobility strategies must plan to develop dozens, if not hundreds, of mobile apps.

Multiply the number of apps times the number of operating systems a company supports and then factor in that some apps will need tweaking for tablets and CIOs are looking at a seemingly unrealistic number of apps that need to be built.

The equation reads like this:

The number of apps times the number of mobile operating systems times the time it takes to build the application times the cost of the application.

(Apps) x (# of OS) x (Time/App) x (Cost/App)

For native apps, this system doesn’t scale. HTML5 apps are much more scalable because they run on any device regardless of size or operating system and can be easily updated by the developer and pushed to the user instantly with no downloading required. As a result, the multiplier effect is greatly reduced.

At the end of the day, enterprise mobile apps just need to help people get their work done. If employees work better on a tablet or smartphone, then companies should enable them to be more productive in either of those environments. Native and HTML5 apps are both capable of reaching this end goal but at very different costs in terms of money, time, and resources.

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