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As the convergence of devices, bots, things and people accelerates, businesses will need to learn how to excel at mainstream mobility, as well as prepare for a post-app era, according to analysts at Gartner.
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Speaking at a symposium in South Africa, Gartner vice-president and distinguished analyst David Willis laid out his version of a possible future for the mobile world.
Willis said although users would continue to use mobile apps, the overall importance of apps in terms of delivering services would begin to diminish in the next few years, and bots and virtual personal assistants (VPAs) will begin to replace some app functionality.
“The post-app era means that there will be more data and code in the cloud and less on the device, thanks to the continuous improvement of cellular network performance,” said Willis.
“The post-app era will be an evolving process through 2020 and beyond. It has already begun and organisations should prepare for it by being agile and tactical, planning for new skills, assessing the opportunities created by the post-app era, and developing a digital business strategy that integrates different technologies.”
A driving force behind the move to models of mobility that are less reliant on apps will be the anticipated growth of the internet of things (IoT), said Gartner.
Willis predicted with bring your own device (BYOD) and bring your own application (BYOA) becoming the norm for the majority of organisations, a new trend – predictably dubbed bring your own thing (BYOT) – will emerge, and it will help introduce some of these new interaction techniques and platforms that will dilute the need for dedicated apps.
According to Gartner, in the next 18 months a quarter of new mobile apps will be able to talk to IoT devices. For now, said Willis, an app or browser will be the preferred mode of communication between an IoT device and a smartphone, but it will quickly be challenged by a number of trends and emerging technologies.
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A number of messaging platforms are already enabling users to chat with organisations using such technology to get information, answer basic questions and, in some cases, transact business through messaging.
In this way, they can begin to explore how to evolve their application programming interfaces (APIs) and services so that developers can go to town on creating bots and services.
“Instead of going into a system and filling out complicated forms with checkboxes, users can ask a bot a question and it will answer or negotiate on our behalf, based on rules and knowledge in the system,” said Willis. “It will then move to those systems that allow interactions with customers – from marketing to sales.”