Forrester Research Analyst on HTML5 and Enterprise Mobility

Published on: July 16, 2012

Jeffrey Hammond, principal analyst of Forrester Research, discusses HTML5 with Christopher Willis, chief marketing officer for Verivo Software.

Willis: HTML is a big buzzword today. How important is it for companies to embrace that?

Hammond: Geez, it’s the most-asked question that I get from my clients today, so you are absolutely right about that. The way that I tend to talk to them about HTML5 is to really speak in terms of workloads. If you have a content-centric workload—browsing, text consumption, video consumption, audio consumption—what we’ve already seen [are] sites that are using HTML5 and JavaScript apps, in the browser, to deliver a user experience that the users expect. Boston Globe is a good example of a company that is doing that today; Financial Times is another. They are in-the-browser, Web applications.

But for other workload types, for the connected workload where you do want to take advantage of some device features—you want access to camera, you want access to the magnetometer or the accelerometer—you can’t do that do that in the browser with just HTML5 today. So for device-centric workloads, those casual games, or where you have advanced off-line capabilities and I need to have access to Megs [megabytes] or Gigs [gigabytes] of information on the device because I’m flying from Boston to L.A.—again, Web is not there yet. The browser-centric workload and HTML alone can’t do it. So in that area I think you have to look beyond HTML5.

Willis: Should companies be building native, hybrid, or Web apps, and what are the pros and cons to those?

Hammond: Well, I think they are probably going to be building multiple types of applications. So, for your customer applications, if it’s very important for you to have a very high-touch relationship with your customer, and you have got a product that is a digital product, or a connected product, you may want to build a native application to really deliver a top-tier experience that is better than any of your competition.

The hybrid technology style is the interesting thing, because that’s a little bit different. Now, for years, we’ve seen people that will stick browser controls inside the applications that they build. And, in some ways, a hybrid in the mobile space isn’t that much different than what you will see people do in IDEs [integrated development environments] or in big applications or anything like that. So, in some ways, everything old is new again. I do think that, as you look at applications where keeping the cost of developing the application and keeping the maintenance costs under control is more important than a pixel-perfect experience, a lot of people will build hybrids.

The reality is, is while we all like to think that we do the very best for employees everyday, and we give them the most beautiful applications possible, we don’t. And I don’t see that changing. I think there will be lots of people who will say, ‘we need to do this good, but we need to do this at a reasonable cost.’ And that is where they will turn to things like hybrids, because they are going to be a lot cheaper to maintain.

So again, it comes down to workloads, it comes down to the types of workloads, and it comes down to the experience that is expected by the user. Your customers are going to expect a top-tier experience. Your employees are going to expect an experience that allows them to get their work done, and quite frankly, they are paid to use those experiences. So as long as you don’t create something that is terrible – and I certainly think you can create hybrid apps and Web apps that have good experiences. We see four- and five-star rated applications today that are hybrid or Web based. There is no reason you can’t use those technologies to create good enough experiences that are cost effective as well.

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