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Forrester: Context will lead mobile development

Marketers and developers need to have a grasp on a user?s total mobile experience to create compelling mobile applications in the future, according to a new study from Forrester Research.

Forrester?s ?The Future of Mobile Application Development? study looks at how marketers need to be eyeing the omnichannel approach more than a mobile-only or multichannel experience. Additionally, the report gives a glimpse at what technologies and analytics developers can expect in the future for mobile app development.

?I'd say that while it's fine to strike out on your own with an agency for your first mobile app, as customers grow to expect more, you're going to need to connect that app back into the systems of record and systems of operation that your company has,? said Jeffrey Hammond, principal analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA.

?To do that - to build these advanced contextual apps that delight customers - you're going to need to figure out how to effectively work with your IT organization, because they own that data and those systems," he said.

Mobile context
Per the report, mobile services must be contextual, simple and immediate.

Context is defined as the total sum of a consumer?s mobile experiences. This includes looking at the situational, attitudinal and preferential habits of mobile users.

To tap into this, marketers need to realize that a customer?s contextual experience is directly linked to the state of an app.

Therefore, a contextual app should use sensors and information already on mobile devices.

Comprehensive mobile strategy
According to the report, marketers need to think of mobile applications as part of a bigger omnichannel strategy.

The report points to the growing number of mobile devices as a reason for marketers to take their mobile developments in-house for lower-cost and quicker solutions.

Systems of engagement, which includes mobile phones, tablets, browsers and HUDs overlap with systems of record ? such as CRM and portals ? and systems of operations.

Companies including Hulu, Instagram and Amazon all have similar mobile app infrastructures. The development process includes thinking about apps as part of a omnichannel approach versus a multichannel and mobile one, and use elastic infrastructures and open sources.

With the increase of pay-per-use cloud services and open source tools for development, the cost of deploying multiple app ideas has decreased, per the report.

Additionally, application delivery methods nowadays collect feedback and requirement in real-time, which gives in-app analytics to marketers quickly. For example, marketers have easier access to information about the ratings and comments from Apple?s App Store and Google Play.

?To me, one thing that dropped out in the research was the real connection between mobile apps and big data, predictive analytics and complex event processing,? Mr. Hammond said.

?They are a killer combination ? like chocolate and peanut butter,? he said.

?It not something I was thinking about much when I started my research, and the developers that work in those spaces are very different, and they don't always connect with each other. That needs to change.?

Next wave of innovation
The report points to the growth of the high-end smartphone market as catalysts for upcoming innovation for mobile app developers.

For example, GPS and near-field communication are features already included in smartphones, but the amount of data that marketers can collect from the medium will help create more contextual experiences.

Motion, voice and touch will also change the user experience. Voice for example could let consumers interact with their mobile devices while not getting in the way of their work.

Stronger microprocessors, increased memory and faster graphics accelerators will also help the performance of mobile devices.

A growing number of device sizes will make it increasingly difficult to develop for, however principles that are currently being used with responsive design will help with designing for an omnichannel experience.

?Folks are going to navigate to your Web site from mobile devices, so you need to make sure it is optimized for the devices they want to use,? Mr. Hammond said.

?Mobile apps will deliver a two-way experience, use the context data available from the phone or tablet and offer better convenience that a mobile optimized site,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York