Overcoming Common IBM i Mobile Development Challenges

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"We'd love to deliver mobile applications to our business...but we're not a mobile development shop!"

Editor's note: This article introduces the white paper "Overcoming Common IBM i Mobile Development Challenges" available free at the MC White Paper Center

It's no secret that more and more companies are embracing mobile to create a more engaged, knowledgeable, and agile workforce. But mobile application development gives many companies pause. How much will it cost? Do we have the in-house talent to handle development, or will we outsource? Is BYOD the right fit for our company?

The challenges can continue to pile up for companies on so-called "legacy" systems, like IBM i (the platform formerly known as AS/400). Many of these companies haven't embraced modern, non-green-screen interfaces for their desktop apps, let alone have a system to make those apps mobile!

But have no fear. There are some easy solutions to overcome the most common challenges your IBM i company might face when going mobile.

No/Limited Development Resources

This is one of the most common challenges we hear from our customers. In many cases, businesses already have lean resources allocated to IBM i development, with little or no room for new development—let alone for new mobile development. Sometimes the issue is that the developer in charge of the IBM i is soon to retire, or development resources are allocated into other projects.

          "42 percent of mobile app development is currently being done outside of enterprise IT departments...in two years that will increase to 65 percent."

One way to manage this challenge is to partner with a third party for development. In fact, a recent Gartner study found that "42 percent of mobile app development is currently being done outside of enterprise IT departments, but with exploding demand, it expects in two years that will increase to 65 percent being handed off to business application vendors, system integrators, digital agency partners and developer partners."

A key to outsourcing your mobile development is to find a partner who has a deep understanding of your current systems, RPG source code, and services needed to link mobile applications to existing databases. The benefit to working with a third party who understands IBM i development is that it will not only help you retain your existing application code and business logic (as opposed to rewriting in another language), it can help you extend the life of your IBM i system and plan for future development.

Many third-party IBM i vendors offer these types of services. One of the companies we worked with recently using our IBM i mobile development services stated: “We had our first users [four months ago] and we are now ready to introduce a new enhanced version of the app. That's part of the beauty of the relationship with Profound. They build these apps and I don't have to go through a learning curve.”

Another benefit of working with a partner to take on the bulk of mobile development for you is that they can help you manage the release schedule for your applications and assist with code or design updates, which can be just as stressful or time-consuming as the initial development phase of your mobile project.

Limited Time Frame and Budget

Another common challenge we hear from customers is that they have limited time and budget with which to invest in their mobile project. Often, they are expected to "prove" that an initial mobile project is successful before they are given additional time and funds toward future projects.


A low/no-code solution, like the Profound Mobile Visual Designer, can shave valuable time and money off of mobile projects.

In this case, using tools for Rapid Mobile Application Development can be a huge help. These types of products include drag-and-drop, low-code or no-code interfaces that help users quickly design and deploy mobile apps.

Want to Know More?

Download the free white paper "Overcoming Common IBM i Mobile Development Challenges" from the MC White Paper Center