Why Mobile First Is Good Policy for Nearshore IT Developers

Most IT developers are aware that mobile devices have become a standard means for business users to obtain access to corporate systems. Whether companies provide mobile devices or take Iphonepart in the rapidly growing “BYOD” (bring your own device) trend, they are looking for applications that can be deployed via mobile, as well as desktop or server-based, applications.

And most IT developers in the nearshore region and elsewhere have responded to this trend by including mobile application development as part of their service offerings. Applications can either be developed in a general language such as Javascript or HTML5, which allows basic mobile functionality, or have a version developed in a native mobile language such as iOS or Android, which allows a higher degree of customization and mobile-specific functionality.

First Things First – Namely, Mobile
However, there is a new movement in the IT development world which nearshore IT outsourcing providers should take note of. Known as “mobile first,” this trend focuses on developing applications specifically for deployment on mobile devices, and then retrofitting them to work on desktops, servers or other stationary platforms. Mobile first was a hot topic at last week’s Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, MA, with many speakers emphasizing the importance of making mobile the centerpiece of development efforts.

For example, Nike is using a mobile first approach to developing a social business platform, or a global communication platform that allows users throughout its global enterprise to communicate, share ideas, and store data in a single virtual space. Because the mobile space is where the majority of its employees now “live,” Nike wants to make sure that its social business platform is completely optimized for mobile usage, with desktop usage a secondary concern.

Living Mobile
And Nike employees are not the only ones who are “living mobile.” According to a February 2012 study from comScore, more than four in 10 (42%) US mobile subscribers use smartphones, and during 2011 the growth in mobile app use in the US exceeded the growth in mobile browser use. In addition, 64.2 million U.S. smartphone users gained mobile access to networking sites or blogs on their mobile devices at least once in December 2011, with more than half of these mobile social networking users accessing social media almost every day. And by the end of 2011, nearly 15% of U.S. mobile users also had tablets – a trend seen across other markets as well.

While the comScore study focused on consumer mobile behavior, it is reasonable to assume that consumers who live so much of their lives in the mobile space will expect the same functionality in the workplace, especially given how popular BYOD has become among companies looking to save on infrastructure costs and maximize the flexibility of their workforces.

Latin America – Leaders in Mobility
Fortunately for nearshore IT outsourcing providers, Latin America as a region is already a global leader in using mobile technology. Nearshore Americas has published numerous articles covering topics such as rapid growth in the mobile markets of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Argentina and Honduras, the launch of 4G LTE telecom services in Puerto Rico, and the entry of global mobile providers such as F-Secure into the Latin American market.

For regions that do not have a generally strong telecommunications infrastructure, such as Latin America, the rapid development of mobile networks is a natural means of getting up to speed with global standards of internet and communications in a way that is affordable and manageable. Nearshore IT developers need to take advantage of this regional mobile knowhow and sophistication and offer their US clients “mobile first” development services, or risk coming in second.