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The Periodic Table of Mobile

Posted by Albert Barron on Sep 7, 2015, 11:18:15 PM

Currently there are 1.6+ million Android Apps and 1.5+ million iPhone apps. Allow that to “sync” in for a second. There are 3.1+ million mobile apps floating around in cyber space. If that were people, that would be larger than the population of Toronto and almost the size of Chicago! It is both absurd and awesome at the same time. However, the insanity goes beyond just the number of apps. After all, the apps on our phones are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many things we have not considered behind that flashy user interface. For example, if there are 2.5+ million mobile apps, how many integration services, databases, security profiles, etc. are there? That’s where it gets a little more crazy exciting.

Recently, on my way to the grocery store, I, had to stop (of course) for an obligatory bike store visit. In the store, I met a nice lady and we struck up a conversation regarding the various types of energy gels. While I am no Jens Voight or other professional cyclist, I do know which gels taste good and which ones to avoid. That being said, I am not certain why some taste better than others. I also couldn’t tell you why some have a higher concentration sugars or why others contain carbs or amino acids. But I do know they all are packaged in a similar way, despite their varying ingredients and flavors. While chatting up the cycling gels, the nice lady asked me the dreaded question, “So, what do you do for a living?” While I am not at all embarrassed by my profession, I always dread the question because I know what the subsequent question will be.

You see, I started my career in the Information Technology field in the mid-90’s. At that time, when I was asked what I did for a living, the response was always: “That’s great! So, you’re a computer geek, can you fix my computer?” Moving into the early 2000’s, the response changed slightly to: “That’s great! So, you’re a computer geek! Can you build me a web site?” Fast forward to today, and the response has morphed into: “That’s great! So, you’re a computer geek! Would you be able to build a mobile app for me?” And that’s exactly what followed.

So as to not to overwhelm her with my techie jargon, I switched gears and went straight into my consultation mode. The first question I asked her was what I’d ask anyone, whether a corporate executive, a technologist or a nice lady looking for energy gels at a bike shop.

Is there an app that already does what you’re trying to do?

In many cases the response is Yes or Maybe or even I don’t know. She then asked; “So, what do I need to consider in order to build an app?” My response was the one we all hate, “Well, that depends.” I decided to forgo a lengthy process of discovery and requirements session, and just explain that like the gels we discussed, with their varying ingredients, many apps might suit her needs. But beneath the cover, they might all have different ingredients or “elements” that make them unique. One ingredient alone in the gel didn’t provide the consumer with a flavored orange gel, it’s the combination of ingredients when blended together that provided the tasty orange flavor (which, by the way, is the one that taste the best!).

periodic table of mobile

While the mobile elements don't carry a true atomic weight in nature, they can certainly be broken up into groups and can be assigned a weight based on the importance of the elements to you or your organization. And while each mobile element may vary, the most interesting aspect of mobile elements is their ability to be composed or arranged in a way that makes the most sense for your personal or business needs. One could argue that a mobile element may be missing or could argue the arrangement of the elements, but the table of mobile elements provides a simplistic way to talk about each required component with anyone. Do you remember when you were a student in school and the teacher asked what water was comprised of? Everyone would yell hydrogen and oxygen! Well, the same can be said for the world of mobile. If someone asked what is a Mobile As A Backend Service (MBaaS) comprised of? Hopefully everyone would yell Service Integration, Security Policy, Data Integration and Reporting for example! Ok, perhaps they wouldn’t yell with the same level of excitement, but a techie can dream, can’t he?

Similar to the Periodic Table of Elements, an element in the mobile world might be able to sustain on its own and in their own group. But it isn’t until we begin combining elements from other groups that we begin to synthesize robust composite mobile capabilities. By the way, by the time you’re done reading this, we could very well be closer to 3.2 million apps…. but the question is are they scalable, reliable, composable and as tasty as Rasberry Pie? That’s for next time.

Editor's Note: The content above was originally posted by Albert Barron and repurposed by Avnet with his permission. All rights to the copy are attributed back to him. Please find the original article here.

Tags: Mobility, Technologies, Big Data and Analytics

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