FatFractal CEO: Enterprise mobile apps don't need to be so crappy

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Enterprise mobile apps need a makeover.

That's according to the CEO of FatFractal, the provider of backend-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service offerings.

"My overall goal is when you're at work, it should be as cool as when you're using your phone at home. You shouldn't be saddled with the kind of crappy apps that enterprises make," Kevin Nickels, CEO of FatFractal said.

He argues that enterprise IT folks are ignoring the potential of cloud services like BaaS in an effort to protect their turf. "What I keep telling CIOs is what they should do is create an internal app store and let anybody submit an app to it," he said. "Anybody in the company."

IT turf wars

Source: pranksky via Flickr

BaaS providers build APIs that developers drop into their apps to add functionality like log-in systems, push notification and social integration. With these kinds of integrations essentially pre-built, anyone in an enterprise can develop an app, he said.

That's a bit of a stretch. But BaaS does remove some of the complexity of development, meaning more people in an organization may have the necessary skills to build an app.

He's seeing marketing departments going around IT in order to build promotional mobile apps. "They have a need for being able to create lots of apps quickly," he said. For instance, marketing departments might be interested in building consumer-facing apps around brand campaigns or events.

But allowing anyone outside of IT to build apps is a new concept. "This is very antithetical to IT departments," he said. "Enterprise IT is afraid of this because they think it makes them obsolete, but it doesn't."

If employees throughout an organization are given the tools to build apps, IT can serve as the gatekeeper, much like Apple is the gatekeeper to the App Store, he said.

Because big businesses aren't ready, FatFractal currently is targeting startups rather than enterprises. "I'm looking for enterprises to really understand the strategy they need to adopt. We're gearing up so that when they start to make that move we'll be all over it," he said

It's true that not many enterprises have started using BaaS offerings. But FatFractal might be a bit behind the curve. Other providers including Cloudmine, Kinvey, Parse and Stackmob have already set their sites on the enterprise.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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