Native Apps and BPM
Interesting article by John Gruber, “Native Apps are Part of the Web“.
I can’t believe someone is still writing this in 2014. Users love apps, developers love apps — the only people who don’t love apps are pundits who don’t understand that apps aren’t really in opposition to the open Internet. They’re just superior clients to open Internet services. Instagram didn’t even have a web interface for years, but native app clients for iOS and Android didn’t lock Instagram into anything. Their back-end is just as open as it would have been if they had only had a web browser client interface. They just wouldn’t have gotten popular.
The premise is that rather than seeing Native Apps as competitive to the web, we should instead see them as additive to the web. They are a different skin on the same HTTPS/TCP protocols, that provide a different value equation. Many of them rely strongly on HTML5 as well.
I think this is the right way to view Native apps in the context of the Web. And not viewing them this way is the primary reason that so many people have gotten their noses bent out of shape that native apps would:
- Stifle innovation (just the opposite, refer to Gruber’s post)
- Stifle connectivity/link-ability (temporary problem, being resolved in different ways on the predominant platforms. But also, linking to the web content that these apps leverage still works great)
- Ruin the Internet (hasn’t happened, isn’t likely to happen)
Turning to the world of BPM. Too often businesses look at BPM as a way to build apps that will replace their existing enterprise applications. Essentially, a cool app-building environment that happens to have a notion of business process baked in, in a way that no other app-development-platforms do. However, another way to look at it is that BPM apps are part of doing business. They’re leveraging the existing and emergent APIs and information in your business to enable your team to perform better and to get at the information and processes they need.
Don’t view BPM as replacing your system of record or your favorite ERP tool. BPM is the platform for weaving those tools together, those systems of record together, in a way that is a business process, rather than just a data maintenance application.