Mobile technologies over the last several years have focused on mobile apps. But a new report by Gartner, "Preparing for a World Beyond Apps," says the mobile app era is coming to an end, and will be replaced by a world in which a wide variety of mobile technologies serve consumers and enterprises. Here's what you need to know about a post-mobile app world, based on the report.
When Gartner refers to a post-app world, they're not saying that mobile apps will disappear. Instead, they'll be just one of the many mobile technologies that companies use. The report says that this post-app world is coming sooner than you might imagine. It concludes that by 2020 55% of all large enterprises will have deployed at least one post-mobile app technology.
Gartner has this advice for technology professionals about how to prepare for the post-app mobile world: "When developing post-app solutions, application leaders need to keep in mind that, from a user's perspective, 'it's all about me' - which it is. Solutions are all about reaching customers where they are, and where they are is not limited to where they are physically."
The new solutions must take into account these three different "places:"
Physically: The actual geographic and physical location.
Contextually: What device are people using, what are they doing, how are they doing it, what input is available from sensors, what is the environment around the user?
Experientially: What are users experiencing while they're accessing information? As Gartner explains it: "For example, are they in an immersive experience, or are they at risk due to dangerous chemical levels in an industrial plant?"
Companies need to design an entire range of mobile solutions that take all this into account, and that users access seamlessly. These solutions include chatbots; messaging platforms; virtual personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa; and immersive technologies including augmented, virtual and mixed reality.
Mobile apps will remain important. Gartner writes: "Mobile apps will never become obsolete. In fact, mobile devices and apps are still very relevant in this post-app era, at least for the next three to five years, because they act as a 'universal remote' for interacting with devices and experiences."
All this may sound vague, so here's a use case in the post-app world of a worker in a hazardous environment. She clocks in on a tablet-based mobile app, then puts on a head-mounted display (HMD) to check on her work orders for the day. Using augmented reality, she tells the home office she's entering the work area, and discusses strategies to finish her day's work. As she completes and updates each task, information about it is sent to the company's back-end system.
When she enters a potentially hazardous area, the HMD measures and monitors chemical levels in the environment, and displays it to her. When hazardous levels are encountered, she gets a message on the HMD or via haptic feedback on a device worn on her wrist. Simultaneously, a message is sent back to the office and to people nearby, alerting them to the potentially dangerous situation. The report also cites an example of a field-service technician using similar post-app technologies.