SD Times news digest: Salesforce enables custom AI building, Red Hat takes leadership of OpenJDK 8 and 11, Datadog launches software test platform

Salesforce, which specializes in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), released Einstein Services, enabling admins and developers to build custom AI by using low-code or simple “point-and-click” formulas.

The custom AI can then be embedded into Salesforce or any external app.

The Einstein Platform Services include Einstein Translation, which will automatically translate any Salesforce object or field into the native language of the service agents, and Einstein Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which uses computer vision to extract relevant information.

In addition, the service can generate AI-powered predictions pertaining to business and customer outcomes. This includes Einstein Prediction Builder, which can predict the outcome of any Salesforce field or object, and Einstein Predictions Service, which can embed AI-powered analytics into any third-party system.

Red Hat takes leadership of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11
The leadership of the OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 projects has transitioned from Oracle to Red Hat, making the open-source company recently acquired by IBM the steward of the open-source implementation of Java.

Red Hat led the OpenJDK 6 and 7 projects and has been a member of the OpenJDK community since 2007. In addition, Red Hat leads the upstream development of Shenandoah, a high-performance garbage collector that is now part of OpenJDK 12.

Red Hat plans to launch OpenJDK in a Microsoft installer in the coming weeks and distribute IcedTea-Web, the free software implementation of Java Web Start, as part of the Windows OpenJDK distribution.

Datadog launches software test automation platform for Agile teams
Monitoring and analytics platform Datadog released a SaaS-based software test automation platform driven by machine learning called Browser Tests. The software is designed to aid agile teams in catching bugs automatically whenever the website changes.

In addition to adjusting tests automatically, the software requires no coding and is fully integrated into the Datadog monitoring platform.

“Datadog’s Browser Tests are created in minutes and self-adjust as an application changes, which means bugs are caught before real users see them,” said Gabriel-James Safar, Product Manager at Datadog.

It was created to quickly fix bugs as “agile development teams often trade deep testing for quick application releases,” the company explained.

Prices start at $12 per 1,000 Test Runs and a 14-day free trial is available.

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Mozilla’s Fluent 1.0 localization package released

Mozilla launched the first full release of its Fluent localization file specification today and has put a call out to developers behind translation tools to take the release for a test run. Fluent comprises “localization specifications, implementations and good practices,” Mozilla localization specialist Staś Małolepszy wrote in the announcement.

The main focus of Fluent is asymmetric localization, which accounts not only for word meaning, but also for differences in grammar, style and context by making sure that the source language takes a simple form.

“We make it possible to cater to the grammar and style of other languages, independently of the source language,” Małolepszy wrote. “All of this happens in isolation; the fact that one language benefits from more advanced logic doesn’t require any other localization to apply it. Each localization is in control of how complex the translation becomes.”

Małolepsz provided the example of tailoring Czech translations to account for multiple different plural forms.

“At first glance, Fluent looks similar to other localization solutions that allow translations to use plurals and grammatical genders,” Małolepszy wrote. “What sets Fluent apart is the holistic approach to localization. Fluent takes these ideas further by defining the syntax for the entire text file in which multiple translations can be stored, and by allowing messages to reference other messages.”

The tool features a flexible phrasing system which will allow frequently used phrases to be referenced from multiple translation files, ensuring consistency, Małolepszy wrote.

Additionally, Mozilla announced the stable release of the Fluent Syntax, the file format and specification for Fluent translations, alongside beta releases of JavaScript, Python and Rust parser implementations.

 

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SD Times news digest: GitHub releases Atom 1.37 beta, Mendix announces integration with SAP HANA, and Talend releases Pipeline Designer

GitHub has released a beta version 1.37 of its text editor, Atom. Now, users can view comments from code reviews in a dock next to the editor, improving the pull request review experience. The dock provides easy navigation between comments and code or text and a progress bar shows how many unresolved comments remain, GitHub explained.

In addition, the dock shows the lines of diff immediately surrounding comments, collapsible comments to reduce visual clutter, highlighting and gutter icons showing lines of code or text a comment belongs to, and a “Checkout” button that allows users to checkout a pull request branch.

Github decided to prioritize an editing-centric approach and built a dock design that runs alongside the code or text that can be shown or hidden whenever is needed.

Mendix announces integration with SAP HANA, bringing low-code applications to SAP’s intelligent enterprise
No-code/low-code application development builder Mendix, announced the general availability of a native integration with SAP HANA. In a partnership with SAP, the new offering brings together the power of SAP’s intelligent enterprise and the speed of low-code application development using a single database strategy.

“Given the transformative role SAP HANA holds for organizations seeking to activate the intelligent enterprise, we wanted a best-of-breed extension solution that would accelerate application development for business-critical needs,” said Tom Roberts, global VP, SAP solution extensions.

Talend announces addition of Pipeline Designer to Talend Cloud
Talend, which specializes in cloud data integration and data integrity, is adding Pipeline Designer to Talend Cloud, a scalable integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS). The addition will make it easier to create end-to-end data pipelines, allowing customers to preview and transform live data more efficiently.

“Talend Cloud with Pipeline Designer is built for hybrid and multi-cloud data environments, providing data engineers with ease-of-use and elastic scalability on-demand while also enabling integration of streaming and at-rest data, all-in-one tool, simplifying integration solutions,” said Stewart Bond, director, Data Integration and Integrity Software research, IDC.

Hazelcast releases Hazelcast Jet
Hazelcast, an in-memory computing platform company, announced the general availability of Hazelcast Jet, a streaming engine with no external system dependencies for IoT, edge and cloud environments.

“By integrating Hazelcast Jet’s high-performance streaming engine with our Hummingbird visualization and processing platform, we process high-frequency data from dozens of channels and address inefficiencies in real-time,” said Hari Koduru, CEO of SigmaStream. “The performance and optimization at such a fine level enable SigmaStream’s customers to shrink the time spent on a project, ultimately saving them millions of dollars.”

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Android updates its app permissions procedures based on developer feedback

In an effort to give users more control over their Android devices, Google has been making changes to its requirements for app permissions.

From the start, Google wanted to make Android an open-source operating system, but as it’s grown, every decision made has also come with tradeoffs. “Users want more control and transparency over how their personal information is being used by applications, and expect Android, as the platform, to do more to provide that control and transparency. This responsibility to users is something we have always taken seriously, and that’s why we are taking a comprehensive look at how our platform and policies reflect that commitment,” the Android team wrote in a post.

It will be putting more of a focus on reviewing permissions. For the past few years, Android has required developers to state why they need each permission that their apps request. Last year, it restricted SMS and Call Log permissions to a few use cases.

It received feedback on the new procedures, such as the fact that the permission declaration form was confusing to use, the timeline for appealing a decision was too long, and many developers felt that they were getting automated responses, rather than interacting with a human.

“While these changes are critical to help strengthen privacy protections for our users, we’re sensitive that evolving the platform can lead to substantial work for developers. We have a responsibility to make sure you have the details and resources you need to understand and implement changes, and we know there is room for improvement there,” the Android team wrote.

In response to this, it will be revising the emails it sends for rejections to be more detailed so that developers can know why a certain decision was made, how they can change their apps to comply, and how to appeal a decision. Enforcement emails will also include instructions on how to make appeals.

It will also grow its communication team so that there will be more people to personally respond to requests, rather than relying on an automated system for this.

Additionally, it will begin evaluating disabled developer accounts because some developers have been wrongly blocked from distributing apps. “While the vast majority of developers on Android are well-meaning, some accounts are suspended for serious, repeated violation of policies that protect our shared users. Bad-faith developers often try to get around this by opening new accounts or using other developers’ existing accounts to publish unsafe apps. While we strive for openness wherever possible, in order to prevent bad-faith developers from gaming our systems and putting our users at risk in the process, we can’t always share the reasons we’ve concluded that one account is related to another,” the Android team wrote.

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A deeper look into OpenVPN: Security vulnerabilities

OpenVPN is the backbone of online security. It is supported in many popular virtual private network (VPN) providers such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, and continues to receive frequent updates well into its 17th year in operation.

It’s an unwritten rule of information technology, however, that popular security protocols will attract the largest contingent of hackers. As OpenVPN is open source, it is therefore much easier for hackers to locate and exploit security vulnerabilities within the software design.

Nevertheless, the value of the open-source model is that it promotes open collaboration, thus encouraging other programmers to suggest changes to the design. This way, security vulnerabilities can be pointed out directly to the developers, who then have the option to patch the software and eliminate the vulnerability.

Data security experts are constantly on the lookout for these vulnerabilities and generally make their findings public as part of the open-source agreement. OpenVPN’s greatness lies in its responsiveness to these findings, but there are still certain security flaws that bear highlighting.

OpenVPN core technology
OpenVPN is an innovative, complex piece of software that utilizes a variety of cryptographic tools to provide a secure connection to the internet. However, it is necessary to outline certain aspects of its design in order to understand its security vulnerabilities.

At its core, OpenVPN uses a custom model combining Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) to provide encryption. These protocols allow OpenVPN to utilize public-key cryptography, which thus allows it to implement a secure connection over HTTP.

This is accomplished with the resources of the OpenSSL library, which also provides tools for implementing Certificate Signing Requests, a necessary measure in the implementation of HTTPS connections. This application layer, which utilises Port 443, is far more secure than the HTTP that transfers data over networks in plaintext.

As OpenVPN is essentially a proxy, it only engages SSL and TCP once it has received data through HTTP the user; from there, OpenVPN uses Network Address Translation (NAT) to conceal its users behind a single IP, and then it encrypts the data it has received through HTTP before sending it any further.

Ordinarily, the data is then compressed before it is encrypted. When it returns, it is decompressed, decrypted, and passed back to the user through HTTP.

Past OpenVPN security vulnerabilities
Many of the tools used by OpenVPN—such as NAT, User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)—are not very secure in their own right, but are protected through TLS encryption. It is surprising, then, that TLS has historically been the most troublesome part of OpenVPN’s architecture.

In 2012, a compression side-channel attack named CRIME emerged against HTTPS connections, which are, as mentioned, authenticated through TLS connections via Port 443. This enables hackers to leak information from encrypted connections purely by calculating the size of the compressed packets.

A year later, another attack named BREACH began to exploit HTTP responses and HTTP compression rather than TLS compression. CRIME can be prevented by disabling data compression, but with HTTP responses being more prevalent than TLS, there isn’t yet a universal mitigation tactic for BREACH.

The good news is that HTTPS connections are now generally more common than HTTP, which means browsing automatically mitigates the risk of BREACH in itself. Furthermore, very few browsers actually allow compression, which similarly mitigates CRIME.

Better yet, these attacks have never exactly posed a threat to OpenVPN, which shields user traffic after it has already been compressed. In 2018, though, an attack vector named VORACLE emerged that adapted both CRIME and BREACH for OpenVPN. (Note: this includes all VPN providers that support the OpenVPN protocol.)

VORACLE
Similar to the earlier attacks, VORACLE takes advantage of security flaws that arise from the compression stage of TLS. As mentioned, though, hackers need to take a few extra steps before conducting a successful VORACLE attack on OpenVPN.

Because the targeted HTTP traffic has already been compressed before the hacker can get their hands on it, they need to attack this data via the HTTP response.

In other words, OpenVPN needs to have sent compressed, encrypted traffic to a host server that operates in HTTP. The hacker can then assess the data when it is compressed before returning it to the OpenVPN NAT IP (at which point it will be returned to the user).

Of course, the hacker must have control of the HTTP site itself in order to acquire the targeted data. As such, the targeted user must be lured to an HTTP site that the hacker controls, or to a third-party HTTP site that the hacker can manipulate through methods such as malvertising.

One way to mitigate a VORACLE attack is to disable compression entirely. With many VPN providers, compression isn’t activated by default. If it is active, however, your provider will instruct you on how to deactivate it.

If you cannot go without compression, another option is to use a Chromium browser (like Google Chrome), against which VORACLE is useless. It is also worth remembering that these attacks work on HTTP sites only, so always be careful of whichever links you’re clicking.

OpenVPN in China
Xi Jinping’s government has been increasingly restrictive of Chinese internet freedom over the past decade, and blocking VPN connections has been part of that process. They have implemented technology that can differentiate between ordinary traffic and VPN traffic.

OpenVPN does not obfuscate connections by default, so even if you are using TLS on Port 443, your internet service provider (ISP) can assess your traffic using Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and throttle your connection as a result.

What’s more, the Chinese government can also use this method to render your VPN-protected device useless. Your ISP will then notify you that you must take your device to the nearest police station to have it unlocked. The police will then manually check over your device and force you to delete any restricted apps before your device is returned to you.

To prevent this from happening, it is essential that you use a VPN provider such as ExpressVPN that allows you to patch OpenVPN for obfuscation. Other providers also support obfuscated versions of the OpenVPN protocol as standard; it’s worth reading a few reviews to get an impression of which providers offer this feature.

All in all, OpenVPN is mostly a secure protocol that is ultimately betrayed by a few security vulnerabilities. With the help of this article, however, you should be able to mitigate these concerns well enough, and therefore may continue to utilize OpenVPN as a gateway to secure web browsing and online anonymity.

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SD Times news digest: Emacs 26.2, Apache Hadoop 3.0 now on Azure HDInsight, and Grooper 2.72

The latest version of the Emacs text editor is now available. Key features of Emacs 26.2 include the ability to build modules outside of the Emacs tree source, compliance with Unicode 11, and that in Dired, the “Z” command compresses all of a directory’s files. Dired is a program for editing file system directories.

Apache Hadoop 3.0 now available on Azure HDInsight
Microsoft has announced the general availability of Apache Hadoop 3.0 on Azure HDInsight. Microsoft believes that this addition will provide customers with a production-ready service for data analytics capabilities capable of running Apache frameworks such as Apache, Hadoop, Spark, Kafka, and others.

“Apache Hadoop 3.0 represents over 5 years of major upgrades contributed by the open source community across key Apache frameworks such as Hive, Spark, and HBase. New features in Hadoop 3.0 provide significant improvements to performance, scalability, and availability, reducing total cost of ownership and accelerating time-to-value.”

Grooper 2.72 now available
The latest version of the Grooper data platform is now available. Grooper 2.72 includes integration with Microsoft SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Azure Cognitive Services. It can also now rapidly process large machine-generated data sources.

“Grooper’s data orchestration abilities continue to differentiate it from other platforms,” said Dan Rotelli, CEO of BIS, creator of Grooper. “Combining advanced document data capture with electronic data integration gives organizations in many industries – technology, financial services, healthcare, government, oil and gas – the ability to leverage their data like never before.”

CryptoHound gets a major upgrade
CryptoHound has released the latest version of its blockchain analysis tool. The new version allows users to save dashboards and resume analysis at any time, click on token names to have widget fields filled in automatically, and a “local time” filter. It has also added an address book to make blockchain addresses more easily accessible.

Other features include four new widgets for analyzing ERC-20 tokens and a redesigned website.

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The new language of high-productivity development platforms

Each new—and not so new—technology trend brings its own language, complete with acronyms, jargon and marketing-speak. Consulting services website Connet lists more than 3,000 computer acronyms. Here we are going to focus on one of tech’s current hot topics: Low-code high-productivity application development platforms. Acronyms are flying: RMAD, RADP, LCDP, MADP, hpaPaaS and more. Some of the acronyms may be new, and marketers are spinning the terms “low code” and “high productivity” in new ways, but these technologies have been around. For a long time.

You could say that almost every innovation in software is about “low code” and “high productivity.” Even going all the way back to 1972, when the programming language C came on the scene, it was a radical departure from predecessors COBOL and FORTRAN in terms of the amount of code required and readability. Another significant breakthrough in usability came in 1981, when James Martin coined the term 4GL (Fourth Generation Programming Language) in his aptly titled book, Application Development Without Programmers. 4GLs aimed to enhance programmer efficiency with a more natural language syntax and tooling that utilized GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces). Some even argue that modern low code tools are simply the current evolution of 4GLs.

So why is the tech community so focused on these platforms now? With the amount of data growing exponentially, and with virtually everyone carrying a digital device, the pressure to develop applications to put all that data to good use has never been greater. At the same time, while demand for developers keeps growing, the size of the talent pool isn’t keeping pace with that demand. Recent research by The App Association estimates that nearly 250,000 developer jobs remain unfilled today in the U.S. alone, with that number expected to triple in the next three years.

Progress conducted a survey of more than 5,500 web and mobile applications developers to gauge their workloads and sentiment about low-code, high-productivity platforms on the market today. With 39% of developers expected to build 2 to 4 new apps in the next 12 months, and 14% expected to build 5 to 10 new apps over the same period, the survey validated that developers indeed face greater pressure than ever to produce apps—fast.

That same survey also showed some skepticism among developers about these platforms. Two-thirds (66%) had negative feelings about them, mostly due to loss of control of their code. But with market researchers expecting explosive growth in this area the next few years, these platforms are here to stay. According to new research by MarketsandMarkets, their market size is expected to grow from $4.32 billion in 2017 to $27.23 billion by 2022, a compound annual growth rate of 44.49%.

That means a lot more developers are going to be using these platforms – like it or not. Sorting through the hype is no easy challenge, as even the definitions of “low-code” and “high productivity” themselves seem muddled.

Although the term “low-code app development” is fairly new, as mentioned before, the concept is not. Rapid Application Development (RAD) has been around for well over a decade, and Business Process Management (BPM), the ongoing methodology to automate all ad hoc business processes, first gained popularity in the 1990s. Today’s low-code solutions aim to extend the benefits of application platform-as-a-service tools (aPaaS), accelerating app delivery by alleviating the need for developers to spend time manually coding an app from scratch that is made up of common features and components by providing templates to drag-and-drop pre-built elements and objects. And then there are no code platforms, gaining in power and popularity and blurring the line with low code.

The premise is simple—give developers the tools they need to quickly create, as well as run applications—but the language surrounding it is anything but. Take hpaPaaS (high-productivity application platform-as-a-service), a visual, model-driven approach to enable a broad range of individuals to build and deploy apps, including citizen developers. Not to be outdone by hcaPaaS (high-control application platform-as-a-service), high-productivity platforms are geared to professional developers, giving them more control over their work.

And don’t forget about the back-end and front-end components that make up these solutions. When it comes to the back end, acronyms and marketing-speak abound. Some analysts have coined the term “serverless” to describe the infrastructure, as well as cloud-native solutions and microservices. In the acronym department is the umbrella under which you’ll find backend-as-a-service (BaaS) or function-as-a-service (FaaS).

On the front end, things haven’t changed much. Developers still must build apps that deliver a pleasing user interface for a good user experience (UI/UX). Most of the solutions provide point-and-click and drag-and-drop capabilities to speed development. And most also allow for easy integration of APIs so the app can assimilate different data and capabilities.

From 4GLs to BPM to the drag-and-drop world of MADP (Mobile Application Development Platforms) through the multitude of “as a Service” acronyms, low-code platforms—and their acronyms and marketing-speak— are here to stay and appear to be poised to accelerate the time it takes to build and deploy powerful, modern apps.

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Google previews new plugin for IDEs to ease loud Native App Development

Google this week released previews of a set of new plugins for integrated development environments (IDEs) that will generate cloud-native code for deployment into Kubernetes-based clusters.

The Cloud Code plug-ins, demonstrated at this week’s Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco, are available for any IDE that supports IntelliJ and for Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code. Developers who typically use IDEs on local client devices may lack the experience of building cloud-native code, a consideration Cloud Code addresses, according to Google.

“Cloud Code lets the developer use an IDE of choice and make all the automation to go from code to containers deployed, super, super easy,” said Adam Seligman, Google’s VP of developer relations. Cloud Code also addresses the nuance of working with an IDE in a local environment for code running in the cloud, where developers are prone to discovering errors in their code late in the development process.

“We created Cloud Code to go in and act as extensions to these IDEs so we can turbo charge them and allow these these developers build cloud native applications in place,” said Pali Bhat, Google’s VP of product management for serverless.  “It lets you rapidly build, debug and deploy your app as cloud native applications, right in place in the IDE of your choice,”

Google said Cloud Code supports its command-line container tools including SkaffoldJib and Kubectl, which lets developers extend their local edit-compile-debug loops to local or remote Kubernetes environment. Cloud Code also provides continuous feedback during development and comes with support for deployment profiles to define various targets, such as local development, shared development, test or production, allowing for testing and debugging on wither a local workstation or in the cloud.

Developers can deploy applications built with the Cloud Code extensions to a Kubernetes cluster including Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) using DevOps tools such as the company’s Stackdriver or  Cloud Build, according to Google. The latter is a tool that Google released last year for integration with Kubernetes clusters, Bhat explained.

Using Cloud Build, a developer can run a pull request or commit to automatically build, test and deploy the application. Google this week also launched a custom worker feature that adds a CICD function for the company’s new Anthos hybrid cloud software, also launched at Google Cloud Next.

Cloud Code also lets developers integrate Google’s APIs into their applications, according to the company’s blog post announcing the now plugins. For example, the company offers an integrated library manager in IntelliJ that adds an application’s required dependencies. The previews of both Cloud Code tools are now available for download.

 

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SD Times news digest: Perfecto’s support for Android Q Beta, Protego Labs’ new support for AWS Fargate, and Rust 1.34.0

Perfecto has announced that it now supports the latest Android Q Beta. This will allow Perfecto customers to start testing the latest version of Android.

Some major changes coming to Android 10 include giving users more control over location services, more privacy protection, and support for foldable screens.

Protego Labs to support AWS Fargate
On Monday, Protego Labs will announce support for AWS Fargate, which is a compute engine for Amazon ECS that allows developers to run clusters without having to worry about managing them.

“Moving to a managed service environment has quick security wins with the power of AWS, but as developers make this shift, they need to change the way they approach application security,” said Hillel Solow, CTO and cofounder, Protego Labs. “The Protego solution with AWS Fargate creates an opportunity to vastly improve how developers think of application security in a cloud-native world by protecting the tasks in the same manner as the function, giving organizations greater visibility and security of their serverless resources.”

Rust 1.34.0 now available
Rust 1.34.0 is now available. The biggest feature of this release is support for alternate registries, which will help developers writing proprietary software achieve the benefits of versioning that the crates.io registry provides, without having to publish crates (containers in Rust) to that registry.

Other features include support for “?” in documentation tests, improvements for “#[attribute(..)]”s, and stabilization of “TryFrom.”

Atom 1.36 now available
The latest version of the text editor Atom is now available. Key new features in Atom 1.36 include the ability to open single files in large directories more quickly, see pull request review comments from GitHub, and specify multiple wrap guides.

The Atom 1.37 beta is also available now, and it introduces a complete flow for handling pull request review comments, among other improvements.

Here Technologies releases Here XYZ
Mapping company Here Technologies has announced the release of Here XYZ, which is a cloud-based collection of tools for publishing maps and managing data. With this solution the company hopes to maximize ease of use, flexibility, and interoperability.

“HERE XYZ is about flipping the fundamental challenge of mapmaking on its head,” said Achal Prabhakar, Vice President of Engineering at HERE Technologies. “We’ve built the largest SD and HD mapping platform in the world and we know that eighty percent of mapmaking is time spent wrangling and managing geospatial data. HERE XYZ helps to solve this problem by delivering the prerequisite building blocks for data management and map publishing, so users of all levels can focus on creating the insights and context that location provides.”

 

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Crossing the mobile chasm

In five years, will we still be talking about the mobile experience?

That might seem like a crazy question to ask at this moment. I mean, mobile is hot, right?

The data would suggest it is. In the U.S., we now spend more than 3.3 hours a day on our mobile devices, including phones, tablets, and watches. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. We’re playing Candy Crush or Words with Friends. We’re shopping on Amazon, ordering a latte from Starbucks, or buying movie tickets with Fandango. Simply put, mobile interactions and experiences play a bigger and bigger role in our lives every day.

(Personally, I wish I ONLY spent 3.3 hours! Raise your hand if you’re like me, helping drive that number higher.)

It seems today that every interaction with a company, a product, or a friend begins on the phone. We want to engage with the companies and brands we care about whenever we want. Day or night. At home, at work, on our commute.

We want that experience to be easy, immersive, and intuitive, like Spotify or Google Maps. We also want that experience to know us and follow us wherever we go, whether we’re connecting on a mobile app, talking to a smart home speaker, or engaging in a conversation with an AI-driven bot.

There’s no question that how we use our phones, and the amount of time we spend on them is transforming business. In 2008 there were fewer than 5,000 apps for Apple iOS. Today there are over two million. IT and business leaders now see mobile as a top three priority, and they are investing as fast as they can to meet the growing demand for mobile apps.

That’s when reality hits. Not surprising, developing great mobile experiences has never been easy, and until recently has depended on highly skilled and expensive mobile developers. And that’s just one challenge.

In my view, companies have to overcome some major hurdles to create truly successful mobile apps and experiences:

Companies and developers bother are fighting the High user expectations. Whether customers, partners, or employees, the audience for your app expects a “consumer” experience, and users have very little patience for a subpar mobile app. It’s not enough to be “mobile.” Your mobile experience needs to be awesome.

Access to data This should be a core requirement. Customers and employees expect your app to know their preferences and history with your organization. Additionally, there is a shortage ofexperienced developers, leading to a talent gap. So much so in fact that 48% of IT organizations already struggle to meet their need for mobile developers.

Mobile technology is constantly changing. Meaning you need the ability to update your mobile apps and experiences on the fly and quickly push out new versions to your users.

Uncertainty about where to go from here is perhaps the biggest obstacle because it’s the least defined. I hear from IT and business leaders all the time who know they need to move to mobile. But not knowing where to start, they put it off.

So yes, there are challenges. But there are also solutions.

These two trends excite me most: the emergence of the so-called citizen developer, and new low-code and no-code technologies that effectively allow anyone to develop software applications, including mobile apps. These trends are already having a significant impact in technology and may change forever the way think about applications and developers.

Giving nontechnical business users the ability to build apps with the correct governance and security.nd Business people are closer to end users. They have a better grasp of the needs of customers. They understand the problems to be solved.

Given the right tools, business users find the time and freedom to experiment. I can tell you from experience that’s a luxury most IT orgs don’t enjoy.

through trial and error what employees start to solve small problems which leads to solving bigger problems, especially in partnership with senior software developers. Suddenly, the organization’s capacity to build apps is unlimited — or more accurately, it’s limited only by the enthusiasm of business people to create great customer experiences.

Imagine this scenario. You work at a car dealership. You get an idea for an app to enable sales reps to take pre-orders and allow customers to customize the car they buy from you. Sales reps want voice capability so they can update orders on the go by simply speaking to their mobile device. At the same time, integrating AI makes it easier for customers to find the exact vehicle for them by using intelligent recommendations based on criteria such as their personal preferences and credit rating and your available inventory.

The great news? Citizen developers can build and launch that app today. As low-code development platforms evolve, we will soon see citizen developers go beyond mobile apps to create customer experiences in a wider and wider set of touchpoints.

According to our research, 74% of IT leaders plan to increasingly shift some application-building responsibilities to business users over the next 12–18 months. Today those business users are building for mobile. Tomorrow they could be creating experiences for smart speakers, IoT devices, augmented reality, who knows what.

At that point, we will no longer talk about the mobile experience. We’ll talk about the customer experience. Isn’t that where we ultimately want to get?

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