Digital Transformation and the Evolution of Apps – What’s the Link?

Digital Transformation and the Evolution of Apps – What’s the Link?
Keiichiro Nozaki, Regional Marketing Architect/Evangelist for Asia Pacific, China, and Japan, F5 Networks

Keiichiro Nozaki,
Regional Marketing Architect/Evangelist
Asia Pacific
F5 Networks
A century ago, we had the industrial revolution. It transformed how we manufactured, well, everything.

Fast-forward to the present day. We are now in the midst of the Fourth, characterized by the fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between physical, digital, and biological worlds. Companies are embarking on digital transformation journeys to experiment new digital ways of doing business—this means leveraging data smarter to enable unprecedented levels of efficiency, agility, and productivity.

Technologies—from mobile to cloud—are integral to every business regardless of industry, and those that fail to set an efficient digital strategy and maximize the impact of digitalization risk being left behind.

While data serves as the backbone to digital transformation, software applications (apps) are where the magic happens, because businesses are already using an average of over 200 applications[1]. At the same time, technology and medicine publisher PLOS found in a recent study that we check our phones a third of our waking hours[2]—and of that, a whopping 85 percent is spent using apps[3]. Mobile is now a significant driver to the volume of software solutions and apps created, and the coming wave of the Internet of Things (IoT) will only accelerate this trend.

However, let’s take a step back and rewind a few years—or decades—to visualize the history of apps. Apps popularly started out as a means for communication (call, SMS), which then evolved to a platform for content consumption in the early stages of data (news, MMS and YouTube), and finally to what we now define as demand services (food delivery, transport and e-commerce). In fact, we even have some apps like WeChat that are able to encompass all three “functions” of apps.

How did all this happen? Let’s take a look at how apps became such a vital part of our lives and how they went through dramatic change and development.

The Need for Faster Communication

Fact: the world’s first mobile phone call was made on April 3, 1973, by Martin Cooper, a senior engineer at Motorola[4]. However, it wasn’t until 1983 when the first commercially viable mobile phones went on sale in the U.S.—each retailing at a cool US$4,000[5], with the first text message (SMS) only sent in 1992.

However, the mobile phones available then were large and bulky, and innovation was driven by the desire to communicate untethered. And it is this desire that has driven the evolution of communication technologies—from simple phone calls and text messages such as SMS, to real time conversations and interactions through new app features such as video calls. A rich user experience soon followed, as app developers came under pressure to keep their apps updated, while making the app simple and easy to use—or risk losing their users to apps from the competitors.

Mobile phones made instant communication possible. This is what Faster communication is all about—making communication services available and reliable, while being responsive and increasing the speed of innovation. It is this need for speed that still applies today.

Creating Smarter Content

Now that near-instant communication had been achieved, the next step in the evolution was in providing content.

Before iOS and Android, there was IBM’s Simon, the first ever smartphone. It was launched in 1994, and had over 10 inbuilt apps[6].

In addition to being communication devices, mobile phones were also starting to function as a platform for content consumption. Nowadays, consumers and end-users are able to consume content on the go, without having to sit at their desktop PCs. Videos, music, games; they were all now available at the tip of their fingers. In fact, most websites implement modern web protocols to dynamically show attractive animations, and track user behavior to offer the best communication or follow up to consumers.

At the heart of it all, this enriched content is all about elevating the end user experience, to gain the loyalty of their customers. Smarter content creates this, through the analyzing and tracking of user behavior to create personalized customer interactions, based on intelligent user recognition.

Satisfying the Demand for Safer Experiences

Today, our lives move around mobile applications - whether we need to wake up in the morning, do a quick meditation exercise, navigate the route to your office or even make a dinner reservation. Applications enable you to do almost anything, making everything just a click away. The idea of true intelligence—be it smart cities, smart homes, smart health and smart retail—is growing.

In addition, our sharing economy is quickly gaining traction across the region due to the speed and convenience it delivers. However, this increasing reliance on applications call for an increased vigilance in security. Consumers today are willing to sacrifice personal information to shave off precious few seconds of waiting. This means that businesses who own these applications are creating an entire ecosystem of devices and data that are interconnected—an ideal treasure trove for cybercriminals. The risk is—a cyberattack will cause more than loss revenue, but loss reputation as well, causing customers to jump to alternative services.

What’s next?

With the growth of applications, organizations of all sizes are adapting to the new digital economy by relying on the cloud to deliver the speed necessary for digital transformation projects[7]. Additionally, while the names of critical vulnerabilities and insidious malware may have changed, the underlying security threat is still there for consumer and corporate data. This means that any success application would have to be fast, responsive, and personalized, while providing customers the peace of mind. This means that organizations should look to application-centric solutions to ensure faster, smarter, and safer applications.


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