We have to give some big ups to last Friday’s MoDevEast. As participants and panelists, we had a blast. The sessions were really informative, and having a chance to share our insights on enterprise mobile app development and management was a real privilege.
From a purely logistic perspective, the event was really well run — a welcome complement to good content.
Perhaps the most enlightening moment came at the conclusion, courtesy of Living Social VP of R&D Rich Kilmer. In his closing remarks, he challenged us to rethink how apps should behave and thus how they should be built.
To paraphrase Rich’s presentation; so often in tech, we follow the crowd. For mobile apps today, for example, the dominant trend is a focus on synchronizing data and replicating functionality. With my own devices, I have to syncro even if they’re a mere two feet apart in order to share data. Under scrutiny, that does seem ludicrous. My iPad and laptop are next to each other on a desk, but to share data they have to mutually access a data center in North Carolina.
So perhaps a fresh perspective is in order. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about sharing functionality instead of replicating it, and facilitating device ability to share power.
Rich also got us thinking about how this mindset can apply to mobile commerce. Today, we go in to a store, use a credit card, and the merchant has to pony up transaction fees (to say nothing of the initial card-reader investment). Applying a little disruptive thinking, we’re asking ourselves if we can move toward a point where vendors can offer a set of transaction services available on my smart device without having additional cost. A lot of time and energy are being focused on mobile commerce, but the question remains how to accomplish the goal in a ubiquitous way for the consumer and zero marginal cost for the vendor.
While that’s not today’s reality, we appreciate the kindred spirit innovators at MoDevEast and similar events who get us all thinking in breakthrough ways. That leads to new and better ways of getting things done. From an appdev perspective, that’s bound to be a good thing.