Key Considerations for Building Smart Apps

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Key Considerations for Building Smart Apps

/ October 31, 2016

By 2020 the world’s data will be doubled every two months. The rise of IoT, big data and machine learning technologies are beginning to radically redefine apps as we know them.

However, all the connected devices and big data in the world won’t mean a thing until they are properly applied. What makes a difference to the user – and what will mean the difference between your business being disrupted or becoming a digital enterprise – is making that data actionable to deliver intelligent, personalized, contextual experiences. We are entering the era of Smart Apps.

All of the opportunities Smart Apps provide hinge upon an organizations ability to harness IoT, big data, analytics and machine learning to create the right experience. These new trends are forcing organizations to rethink their technology platforms, as well as the people and process supporting them.


Capitalizing on these trends involves being able to understand the new principles and paradigms of Smart Apps. The challenges around business strategy, technology integration, data architecture, lack of resources and time management will ultimately require organizations to undergo a broader digital transformation.

The transformation of entire industries, coupled with heightened customer expectations, drives the need for a shift in the way companies operate and go to market. Building Smart Apps requires new approaches and unprecedented collaboration throughout the entire organization.

Here are some of the key considerations for building Smart Apps:

Make sure the business is actively involved

Business and IT collaboration enables rapid experimentation. When testing new ideas, not all will be successful; the key is to discover which ideas will succeed and which will not with minimal investment in time and money.

Business-IT collaboration is also imperative to increase the success rate of projects. This isn’t unusual with digital innovation projects, as the requirements are often unclear and need to be refined through collaboration with, and feedback from, the business. The goal is to illustrate the higher level of creativity and collaboration facilitated by a new approach. A model-driven RAD platform creates a common language for business and IT, addressing the age old problem of why IT projects fail.

Start Small

Trying to do everything at once is too much, and the change is too disruptive without proof of success. It is important to start small and gain broader support for your digital transformation by showing results quickly and proving the value of your new approach. As one executive at a major airline said, “Just do it!” It is also important to celebrate the success of your first Smart App to generate internal PR and spread buzz throughout the company, allowing you to tackle more initiatives.

Follow a best-of-breed strategy

Delivering these types of smart user experiences wouldn’t be possible without an intrinsic level of openness. Smart Apps need to combine multiple, autonomous services from best-of-breed platforms instead of being tied to a single vendor with a one-size-fits-all model. Thus, for developers, it’s crucial that they can easily access these different services and orchestrate them to create new experiences on top of them.

From a vendor perspective, these technologies are too broad, too complex and too rapidly changing for one single vendor to excel in all areas. Rather than a comprehensive suite approach, Mendix focuses on enabling integration with best-of-breed platforms and services in each layer, depending on an organization’s needs and goals. Identify third party algorithmic services and define reusable component services to help alleviate the need for highly skilled data scientists.

Take advantage of the cloud

Cloud-based technology enables organizations to start small, at low scale, to rapidly experiment and iterate upon new ideas to test what works. The cloud also enables organizations to then scale quickly upon success.

Use mobile as a primary channel

Smart Apps require context, and mobile is often the source of user context because it knows the location of the user at any given time. Mobile is also the channel that enables organizations to proactively engage with users via push notifications or chat bots like WeChat, a mobile messaging communication service that uses artificial intelligence systems as a way to interact via text and voice.

Bottom Line

There is no shortage of ideas for innovative products and services. The challenge is to build Smart Apps at the speed of these ideas. In order to focus on the business goal — which is creating a smart, personal and contextual experience – it is beneficial to choose a platform that eliminates the technical complications.

This creates a need for a pluggable architecture that brings cloud, IoT, big data, analytics and machine learning together with rapid application development in one integrated, seamless fashion. This concept of plug-ability is key to enable organizations to start small and add components with success over time, to ensure flexibility to leverage industry specific best-of-breed solutions that are mapped to each business need, and to provide standardization without compromising agility.

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