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IT gets the app development assistance it needs

We often tout the rising importance of enterprise mobile applications without acknowledging that they don’t grow on trees. Native app development is a complex and often expensive undertaking, and even procuring developers with the proper skill set can prove a major challenge.

In the July/August edition of Modern Mobility, news writer Jake O’Donnell takes a look at a growing issue in the enterprise — the scarcity of mobile app development talent — and how companies are dealing with it.

The number of organizations looking to add new mobile applications is far outpacing the amount of available developers with the skills to develop quality enterprise apps. A 2014 survey by IDC and app dev platform vendor Appcelerator found that the more than 8,000 respondents considered a lack of skilled developers as the top impediment to providing new apps for workers in a timely manner.

Not every organization can afford a staff of app developers, but companies with limited resources are getting a boost from third-party mobile app development platforms (MADPs). Some vendors even offer tools for codeless app development. These products allow IT departments to cover more ground when trying to add new mobile capabilities for employees.

“It’s unreasonable to expect that most enterprises at this time are going to be able to attract and retain native [app developers],” said IDC research vice president John Jackson, adding that hiring third-party talent can run up a big tab. “So you need some tools and you need a bag of tricks.”

To help IT fill that bag of tricks, vendors such as Xamarin, SAP, Alpha Software and Red Hat’s FeedHenry offer cross-platform app development suites. Kony Modeler, SAP Web IDE and IBM MobileFirst Platform Foundation provide codeless development tools that help IT pros without a development background to create mobile apps.

Despite the developer shortage, the demand for mobile apps — both from employees and their productivity-seeking managers — is such that enterprises will have to find a way to provide them.