AR, VR, and multi-screen experiences is what new-age app development is all about. Source: Amy Osborne / AFP

AR, VR, and multi-screen experiences is what new-age app development is all about. Source: Amy Osborne / AFP

The CXO’s guide to enterprise-grade multiexperience applications

PEOPLE might not really be addicted to their mobile devices but they do seem to have a natural affinity for them. It’s why a new Gartner study points out that mobile apps will have the most impact on business success by 2020.

However, one of the most interesting comments that the report made was that it said the future of app development is multiexperience.

At first glance, that’s quite confusing — but the reality is — that’s actually the direction that businesses are already heading towards.

Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mobile, tablet, desktop, and outdoor platforms are all merging into one digital experience for users in some parts of the world, and in time, it’ll be the norm.

“Development platform vendors are expanding their value proposition beyond mobile apps and web development to meet user and industry demands,” said Gartner Research VP Jason Wong.

“The result is the emergence of multi-experience development platforms, which are used in developing chat, voice, augmented reality (AR) and wearable experiences in support of the digital business.”

Multiexperience apps are here already

Despite the web browser continuing to serve as the most popular application touchpoint, mobile apps are on the rise.

As immersive devices such as smartwatches, smartphones, and voice-driven devices permeate the industry, the modes of interaction (type, touch, gestures, natural language) expand across the digital user journey.

Among enterprises that have developed and deployed at least three different types of applications (other than web apps), the most common are mobile apps (91 percent).

“These figures are higher than any other application types we asked about, and suggest that the maturity of mobile app development is necessary for expansion into other interaction modalities.”

Conversational applications are the second-most widely developed type of application type at 73 percent for voice apps and 60 percent for chatbots, according to the survey.

“This reflects the natural evolution of application functions to support the digital user journey across natural language-driven modes and devices.”

Diving deeper into multiexperience applications

According to Gartner’s study, cloud-hosted artificial intelligence (AI) services are the most widely used technology to support multiexperience application development (61 percent of respondents), followed by native iOS and Android development (48 percent) and mobile back-end services (45 percent).

This is consistent with the rise of conversational user interfaces, image and voice recognition and other AI services that are becoming commonplace within apps.

Contrary to the perception that mobile apps are in decline, they are in the lead for applications projected to have the most impact on business success by 2020, according to respondents.

Following mobile apps are virtual reality (VR) applications and AR applications. Although respondents indicated a high level of development activity for chatbots and voice apps, very few thought they’d have the most business impact by 2020.

Finally, speaking of barriers, Gartner found that there weren’t some concerns — although mild.

The top barrier to building compelling multiexperience applications is the need for business and IT alignment, according to nearly 40 percent of survey respondents.

More than one-quarter of the respondents identified shortcomings in developer skills and user experience expertise as a barrier.

“The skills gap in relation to emerging technologies cannot be overstated when discussing inhibitors to scaling digital initiatives, including multiexperience development strategy,” concluded Wong.

While there are some challenges, the reality is that the world is moving to a state where content — for work or play — can be accessed on any number and kind of devices. Businesses that prepare for it will be pioneers and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.