Mobile Computing Demands an Agile Development Approach

Back in the old days, around 1999, there was a widespread opinion that the Internet and more specifically, the World Wide Web, would change everything. They have — but that was only the beginning. The real game changer is mobile computing.

Smartphones and tablets are revolutionizing how we behave and how we do things. There is a growing expectation that anything requiring a computer can be done from anywhere. This trend is in turn fueling the drive toward agile software development approaches like Scrum, Kanban, Lean and XP.

Why? It’s simple really. Mobile technologies and capabilities are changing so fast that traditional “plan now and implement later” approaches simply can’t work. By the time the team gets around to implementing the planned solution, the landscape will have changed.

Every enterprise software application has to operate in a mobile environment. You can no longer assume that the end user will be in a cubicle running the software on a desktop or laptop. Those days are over.

The future is:

  • Smartphones (think iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc)
  • Tablets (think iPad, Android, Windows 8, etc.)
  • Phablets (smartphone/tablet hybrid devices)
  • Mobile Broadband (WiFi, 3G and LTE)

You can no longer assume:

  • Desktop Systems (massive displays, fast processors, local storage, etc.)
  • Laptops/Notebooks (physical keyboards, local storage, local ports, etc.)
  • High-Speed Networks (wired networks, reliable connections, 10GB/100GB ethernet, etc.)

Mobility changes everything.

Those companies that get it will prosper. Those that don’t will perish.

If your software product backlog contains mobile functionality, get it into the sprint backlog or Kanban queue now. You need to start learning soon, before your team gets left behind. If the product backlog doesn’t mention mobile, looking for another project to work on may be your best option. Why would you want to work on a project that is likely to deliver a product that the marketplace leaves behind?

I’m sure that some people reading this will argue that their project is an exception — it doesn’t need to support mobility. That assumption is likely to be based on what they know and what they observe today. Yet, the mobile landscape is changing at a furious pace. There is simply no way to know what it will look like in a year or two.

Faced with this level of uncertainty, the only viable option is to embrace agile techniques and begin including mobile devices and technologies in your roadmap and backlog. Don’t wait. The marketplace isn’t.

Updated: February 26, 2012 — 10:24 pm