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Codeless MADP provides a mobile app development shortcut

Analysts see a trend to codeless apps with more processes going mobile and vendors like Kony keeping in lock-step with Modeler.

IT has more tools at its disposal to create internal apps on reusable models thanks to the rise of codeless MADPs.

By 2018, more than half of employee-facing mobile apps will be created using codeless tools, Gartner Inc. of Stamford, Conn. predicted in a December 2014 report.

Codeless tools aid rapid development of straightforward projects by IT and enterprise business analysts. They also cut down on the number of apps that need to be outsourced to developer partners, Gartner reported.

Vendors with mobile application development platforms (MADP) are introducing products that make it easier for IT professionals to write these apps for internal purposes without coding.

Kony Inc.'s Modeler became generally available this month and allows the development of lightweight, reusable models for internal mobile apps. The apps are customized to meet a specific business' requirements and then changes are deployed to users on their Apple iOS or Google Android devices.

Codeless MADPs utilize a "drag and drop" interface for app development and construction. For example, features like geo-location, maps or the ability to receive a signature on a mobile device can easily be dropped into an app under that construct, said Charlotte Dunlap, senior analyst for application platforms with Current Analysis in Washington, D.C.

Something like Modeler that puts development in the hands of IT or business staff not knowledgeable in code is appealing, especially to IT pros who need to mobilize applications, Dunlap said.

"[Kony Modeler] can lighten the load for savvy developers to focus on [business-to-consumer] apps while they can give line of business users these kinds of products to take care of [business-to-employee] apps," Dunlap said.

Kony Sales is the first application released with Modeler capabilities, which allows sales staff to manage tasks and follow-ups and keep track of leads, accounts and contacts. Using Modeler, the application can be configured or extended to the needs of the customer. Some of those extensions come from partners such as UST Global, an IT services provider and systems integrator based in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

"You are taking reusable code and empowering the business guys, so now they can express themselves," said Todd Carey, global senior vice president of mobility at UST Global. 

'[Kony Modeler] can lighten the load for savvy developers to focus on [business-to-consumer] apps.'
Charlotte Dunlapanalyst, Current Analysis

UST Global is a Kony partner and member of the Kony Marketplace, where customers can shop for and buy both full apps and features to use as part of a given company's apps.

Other partners in the Kony Marketplace include mobile design and testing vendor InfoStretch Corp., firewall-as-a-service provider VeraSynth Inc. and data analysis product SPLYNT Analytics from Row Sham Bow Inc., among several others.

Similar codeless MADPs include Salesforce.com's Salesforce1 Lightning, Oracle's Mobile Application Framework, IBM Worklight and SAP Web IDE.

Salesforce1 Lightning is geared to business users for creating mobile apps and includes a back-end integration capability that makes that offering compelling, Dunlap wrote in a report on these platforms from October 2014. Oracle's Framework recently added a feature called Mobile Application Accelerator that uses app templates as opposed to reusable components like Salesforce or Kony, she added.

In addition, the latest version of IBM's Worklight Studio has reusable code capabilities with tools for both native and hybrid development.

Kony's drawbacks include a lack of a more extensive partnership ecosystem, nor does it have as wide-ranging a portfolio of competitors like Oracle, SAP and IBM, Dunlap said. Those other companies bring professional services, consulting, management and enterprise resource planning among other services to the table while Kony is more a pure-play MADP, Dunlap said.

There's no cost for customers to access the Kony Marketplace. Kony Modeler comes as part of an app suite purchased from Kony. The Kony Sales app suite includes Modeler and Kony App Services for $40 per user per month.

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