Consumer Engagement Is Shifting Toward Micro Moments

Happy iPhone 6 day. If you're reading this you're proabably not standing in line hoping to get your hands on Apple's latest devices. My colleague Mike Facemire drove past the local Apple store in Back Bay last night at 1 A.M. on the way home from Logan airport and described the scene as "nuts". The line was completely around the block, in 40 degree weather no less.

Developers should pay attention, as there's more going on here than hipsters queuing for the latest shiny. Today Mike, Julie Ask, and yours truly published a research note for eBusiness professionals detailing the top ten ways to leverage Apple’s new tech. Central to our argument is that iOS 8 takes many steps to break down the barriers between custom 3rd party apps and Apple's mobile platform. Mobile developers used to be constrained to their own secure, sand-boxed containers with minimal access to sensors on the device and local storage, but separated from other custom apps. As a result, we saw development teams gradually move toward "least common denomiator" apps that saved money by using a common code base.

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Make Hackathons a Win-Win

Occasionally I like to yield my "bully pulpit" to folks on our team that I collaborate with on joint research projects - and today is just such an occasion. Over the past few months I've been working on research with Vivian Brown on the in's and out's of public and private hackathons. It was interesting when we started this research - we got more than a few puzzled looks and questions like "why would developers want to spend their own personal time writing code?" and "hackathons might be great for start-ups and Valley companies, but will they play in Peoria?".  My own personal response to these questions was to refer folks back to a stream of research I wrote in 2010 on building high-performance development teams. In my opinion a well-run hackathon is the developer equivalent of a musicians' jam session. At their core the best developers are makers - creatives who are intrinsically motivated to create and get a charge out of learning something new or building out someone else's inspiration. It's one expression of a building wave of "Social Development" that is changing the way development works, and how firms relate to developers and vice versa.

But enough rambling. I'll turn things over to Viv. Right before Thanksgiving, Salesforce hosted a well publicized "Million Dollar Hackathon" - and the results were a bit mixed. Viv's thoughts on it below:

Make Hackathons a Win-Win

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Mobile Platform Priorities Show Divided Developer Loyalties

Ok, confession time: Those who know me well know my upbringing holds a deep dark secret. Yes, I was born in West Virginia, and grew up in Kentucky. Yes, my dad worked in the coal mines (OK, he was an electrical engineer, and only went down below once every couple of weeks . . .). On finding out my origin story, my college roommates took to calling me “hick” (I think they still do when I go back for reunions). I gotta say, it still amazes me how quickly y’all zips right back into my patois when I’m around like-minded individuals. But I gotta tell ya, there’s a lot to like about where I grew up: horses, bourbon, and basketball come to mind. And then there are the feuds and rivalries: UK versus IU (we don’t acknowledge Louisville); Maker’s Mark versus Jack Daniel’s; Hatfields versus McCoys. Where I grew up, we don’t mind a good brawl every now and then . . .

And that’s exactly what I’m seeing in our 2013 Forrsights Developer Survey when it comes to how developers prioritize the mobile platforms they develop for. In the survey, we asked all developers about the types of application development technologies they’ve worked with in the past 24 months. Of the 1,611 North American and European developers we surveyed, 478 (just under 30%) indicated that they had worked with mobile apps or mobile web sites. We then asked those developers a variety of questions about how they are using mobile technologies. One question we asked them was how they prioritized their development efforts across different form factors and operating systems (see Figure 1). The overall data is interesting, but so is the data inside the top-line stats:

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Forget IaaS vs. PaaS: Devs Adopting Cloud Services Now

I get a lot of questions about the best way for developers to move to the cloud. That’s a good thing, because trying to forklift your existing applications as is isn’t a recipe for success. Building elastic applications requires a focus on statelessness, atomicity, idempotence, and parallelism — qualities that are not often built into traditional “scale-up” applications. But I also get questions that I think are a bit beside the point, like “Which is better: infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS)?” My answer: "It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, your teams’ skills, and how you like to consume software from ISVs.” That first question is often followed up by a second: “Who’s the leader in the public cloud space?” It’s like asking, “Who's the leading car maker?” There’s a volume answer and there’s a performance answer. It’s one answer if you like pickups, and it’s a different answer if you want an EV. You have to look at your individual needs and match the capabilities of the car and its “ilities” to those needs. That’s how I think we’re starting to see developer adoption of cloud services evolve, based around the capabilities of individual services — not the *aaS taxonomy that we pundits and vendors apply to what’s out there. This approach to service-based adoption is reflected in data from our Forrsights Developer Survey, Q1 2013, so I've chosen publish some of it today to illustrate the adoption differences we see from service to service. 

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Developer Landscape 2013: North America And Europe

During the summer, it seems that I spend almost every Saturday mowing the yard. I’m using a self-propelled walk-behind these days, so it takes a good 2 hours to get the whole thing done. The best part is always that feeling when you cut the last swatch of long grass and know it’s time for a nice glass of iced tea or a hefeweizen on the deck. But the good feeling is more than just about being done; it’s as much about completing a good job and being able to look back and survey the results of your labors.

That feeling of satisfaction is the same one I get when a complex and comprehensive research report I’ve written goes web live on our site. In this case, it’s a document that was more than three years in the planning and six months in the execution. If you’re a Forrester client, I hope you’ll find the Developer Landscape 2013 that Vivian Brown and I co-authored illuminating. It’s my first report that extracts some of the more interesting trends we found in our 2013 Forrsights Developer Survey (although James Staten has also tapped the data already here). While I’ve fielded developer surveys before, this one is different — it represents an organic comittment from Forrester Research to a deeper quantitative examination of who developers are; what tools, processes, and technologies they are adopting and using; and what their attitudes and aspirations are. Here’s why you should care:

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Intel’s Acquisition Of Mashery Nets It Public API Smarts, Developers, And More...

Co-authored with Eve Maler

Yesterday Intel set off of a flurry of tweets and news stories when it announced it had acquired Mashery. For those who aren’t familiar with Mashery, it is one of the earliest (and largest) vendors in the emerging API management space. Companies use API management platforms to secure and expose their APIs for public consumption. They are an important part of establishing a corporate platform and building a developer ecosystem around your business processes.

Intel’s acquisition really didn’t surprise us; the company already had an existing investment in working with Mashery, and was reselling it along with the Intel Expressway Service Gateway. The current integration featured Mashery front-ending the integration as a developer portal and for provisioning of developer licenses, while the Intel Expressway Service Gateway handled the operational aspect of API traffic routing and access management. We expect an immediate tightening of the existing integration, and for Intel sales reps to expand their pitch to offer API management capabilities in the cloud — a capability that was more difficult with Intel’s current product (which is delivered as a hardware-based appliance or a virtual appliance).

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Surfing The "Mobile Shift"

Ever hear about the myth of the “seventh wave”?  Surfers use it to describe the big one — the wave that you can ride all the way into the beach. While it’s been a while since I’ve tested its premise at the shore, I often think about the seventh wave when dealing with the constant waves of tools, processes, and technology we developers face. With the constant change you face, how do you determine which technologies  will change everything from overhyped vendor pabulum (3D TV, anyone?) We don’t have the capability to invest in every new technical advance that comes down the pike, so we need to be able to tell the seventh-wave technologies from the others that might provide incremental productivity benefits or cost reduction but don’t change everything we do or think.

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Emerging HCI Platforms Will Demand Cooperation In Aesthetics And Engineering For Innovative Design

We’ve all heard the aphorism “a picture is worth a thousand words.” These days, that’s certainly true of the balance between content and behavior that modern application developers face. There’s long been a certain amount of creative tension between designers and developers, but good developers generally appreciate the value of effective visualization.

This week I’m yielding my soapbox to a guest blogger: Rowan Curran. Rowan is a research associate on the application development and delivery role team, and I often enjoy his tweets about his own particular interests in the digital media space (follow him at @shortpierreview). His remarks below about his most recent vacation day are a good reminder that the changing nature of print and digital experiences will place increasing demands on developers to blend the real and the digital. Devs might even find themselves spending more time with designers and (gasp) artists as the real and the digital converge.

 


 

If you could see Siri as well as talk to her, what might she look like? I recently attended a panel of digital artists the MIT Media Lab who are struggling to answer questions like this. Their works ranged from algorithm-generated mosaics to more traditional digital photo-stitching. But the most surprising and interesting medium that they were working in was big data and visualization. The most poignant realization of this was Joshua Davis’s work on the visualization of IBM’s Watson.

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API Management: A Key Component Of Modern Application Architecture

I’ve previously written about how modern application architectures are shifting toward compositional, service-oriented architectures — “for real” this time. RESTful services using XML or JSON payloads proliferate because they’re easy for developers of omnichannel clients to use on virtually any device they need to support. It doesn’t matter if they’re building native apps in Objective C or hybrid apps with Cordova — if they can get an open web API call, it’s good enough to move forward.

This shift to web APIs and modern applications means that companies have to shift their API management strategy as well. They need to 1) create the web APIs and 2) create a life cycle to manage them. It’s this life-cycle element that’s conceptually distinct from traditional SOA governance solutions. For one thing, the services live on the open bus of the Internet and carrier networks. Another difference is that web APIs are increasingly made availabe to third-party developers. They may be part of a newly formed developer community, or they may support the growing number of digital agencies and mobile specialist firms that your company uses to supplement development projects. Security and access models are different (e.g., OAuth 2), provisioning access to APIs needs to support light-touch approval workflows, sandboxes where developers can test their calls are important, and analytics that detail call volume and how developers are using APIs are must-have capabilities. Above all, a developer portal that provides good documentation, example code, and quick time-to-value are important if you want to attract and keep developers.

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The Best Way To Develop Mobile Apps? Don't Develop Mobile Apps!

Nothing like starting off the day with a koan, right? How would one develop a mobile app without developing a mobile app? In my latest piece of research on the future of mobile application development, I make the point that if developers overrotate their focus to building mobile clients, we risk creating the same sorts of vertical stovepipes we’re trying to work our way out of right now with all the web apps we built to run on Wintel in IE6. Rather, I think it’s time we broadened our focus and shifted our efforts toward building modern applications. Mobile apps are an important component of a modern application architecture, but only part of the whole picture.

So what’s a modern application? A modern application is:

  • Omnichannel. Modern applications are designed to work across tablets, smartphones, phablets, heads-up displays, automobiles — and, yes, desktops and laptops. They are designed to anticipate new client demands and new methods of interaction, including voice, touch, mouse, and eye tracking. Modern apps may start with a consistent cross-channel expereince, but they quickly move beyond that to a cross-channel and a channel-optimized interface.
  • Elastic. Successful modern applications are designed to spin up or spin down as needed. They take advantage of cloud economics. They comprehensively use open source software because it adds licensing flexibility to scale-out architectural flexibility.
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