Category Archives: Blog


There May be Trouble Ahead for Mobile Commerce

By Clive Howard, Principal AnalystCreative Intellect Consulting

With the Christmas holidays just ahead of us there will undoubtedly be new figures showing that e-commerce has once again generated more revenue and accounted for more of the holiday spending than ever before. The same figures will also probably show a rise in the amount that was spent via mobile. M-commerce (mobile e-commerce) has been steadily rising for a number of years and most predictions are that it will continue to do so.

However recent data points to a tapering off of growth in M-commerce over the next few years. This could be significant with growth rates barely rising at all by 2017 and stagnating at around 30+% of total e-commerce spend. The key questions for many organisations should be however, why and how can they potentially buck this trend?

A number of recent surveys by eMarketer show that there are two key reasons why people are growing reluctant to buy online using mobile devices. The first is security and the second is the user experience of mobile transactions.

Consumers don’t have faith in the phone…

The security issue is a significant one and is only becoming more so. With recent high profile breaches such as that of iCloud (although not Apple’s fault) and Target stores in the US, consumers are becoming increasingly aware and concerned about security online. This is accentuated when it comes to smartphones. They are right to express concerns as the last year has seen 167% increase in mobile malware with McAfee estimating 200 threats per minute.

The Android operating system which is installed on 80% of all smartphones shipped has been especially susceptible to such attacks. Some figures put “rooted” Android devices at 20% of the total. A rooted device gives rogue agents potential access to data stores on the device with the ability of data being entered into device or being passed to and from the device.

Google is addressing these issues and Android is not the only mobile operating system to suffer from security challenges. For example, Apple’s much touted fingerprint recognition sensor was cracked shortly after launch.

Technology has responded to try and address these concerns. For example, mobile wallets (such as ApplePay, Google Wallet and PayPal) try to avoid the need to input and store payment data on the device. Apple’s latest ApplePay mobile wallet does not store credit card data either on the phone or in the cloud. Instead an alternate version of the credit card information is stored in a secure element on the phone.

If there is a breach, such as a lost device, then the payment information can be cancelled without cancelling the credit card itself. Mobile wallets which also work in conjunction with physical payment mechanism such as Near Field Communication (NFC) where you only need to put your mobile device in close proximity of the payment terminal are widely seen as the future of mobile payment.

When they don’t even trust the technology leaders in mobile payment…who do they trust?

The challenge is that data shows people do not trust most of the mobile wallet providers. Apple, Google and even PayPal are only trusted by approximately 20+% of consumers according to eMarketer. So while the technology addresses the security challenges the consumer is less likely to put their faith in it.

Surprisingly this issue cannot be put down to age. People in the 25-35 bracket are more likely to try a mobile wallet than those in the 16-24 age group. Some of this might be down to available income but younger generations often show greater awareness of security issues and therefore more likely to take precautions such as not using them.

When asked who they would trust with regards to mobile wallets almost 80% of consumers answer banks or credit card companies. These organisations are now starting to enter into this market. Therefore development teams should start looking into mobile wallets, particularly those provided by banks, as a method for taking payment on mobile devices.

Mobile payments are simply too hard

After security the next significant issue that is deterring users is the experience of paying via mobile. This is especially relevant to smartphones. In a recent survey IBM found that while consumers use smartphones to research purchases far more than tablets, the reverse is true when it comes to actually making a purchase. A clear reason for this is the difference in the form factors, in other words tablets are larger devices than smartphones.

I’m sure that we have all tried entering data using a smartphone and have probably found it difficult. The small screen size often combined with touch keyboards make entering any significant data awkward. When it comes to making payments in the traditional way, using a credit card, the amount of data that needs entering is a lot. There is not just the card information which includes the long number but also address information. In total this process often involves a combination of character entry and drop down list selections.

With websites this can be particularly problematic where they do not correctly fit within the confines of a small screen. Surprisingly even some websites optimised for mobile do not fit all screens. Then there can be the issue of the underlying code, especially the use of JavaScript which can sometimes not work as expected within mobile browsers. In a Jumio survey, 23% of people reported having a transaction fail to go through on mobile. This represents some kind of technical problems affecting mobile.

This is not surprising as there are a large number of different devices available running a number of different versions of operating systems. In many cases these operating systems have been customised by handset manufacturers of telco networks. In addition there are new devices and updates to operating systems becoming available very regularly. The result is a very large number of potential environments. Testing all of these is near impossible and many organisations only test on the most popular according market statistics.

Such problems with the experience of making a payment leads customers to lose trust, which in turns raises even greater concerns over security.

Uniface, Mobile

The Mobile Mind-Shift: The End of Apps as we Know Them?

Mobile apps have become ubiquitous. Companies are trying to get to grips with an unprecedented digital transformation and keep up with the resulting changes in consumer behaviour. There are now more than 1 billion smartphones and hundreds of millions of tablets in use across the globe, so having a mobile app strategy is essential for success in the connected world.

But, Josh Bernhoff of Forrester, argues that, a strategy that involves ‘building an app’ by itself is no better than a strategy that involves porting a web site. The real question is – what is the app going to do for the customer?

We’ve entered a time when consumers have made a ‘mobile mind-shift’, that is, they expect to access what they want, in a relevant context, in a moment of need.

Bernhoff writes, that for app designers, the challenge is to think about the points in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to access information relating to their immediate circumstance. Companies need to prepare for the ‘mobile mind-shift’ because it will change what customers expect and demand of an organization.

From a design perspective, Paul Adams, of Intercom, writes that, “The experience of our primary mobile screen being a bank of app icons that lead to independent destinations is dying”. The consequence of this is that it will change what we need to design and build.

He suggests that in the future, the primary interface for interacting with apps may not be the app itself. The app is primarily a publishing tool so the number one way people will use your app is through an interactive notification layer or aggregated card stream, not by opening the app itself.

But will apps disappear completely? Where apps might survive and thrive is in creating useful and contextually specific information for end users. We will still need apps to process data to present complex information in a functional and contextual format to the end user.

Where these apps will live on our mobile devices in the future is definitely open to change. According to Paul Adams, they may sit in the back-end, pushing content into a central experience with a card based notification center taking precedence.

Recently, at our North American user conference in Las Vegas, we detailed our mobile strategy to create cross platform mobile applications. Our strategy will help address the current opportunities and challenges of developing mobile apps.

What kind of future do you see for mobile apps? Will they become obsolete or do they just need to reconfigure their purpose? If you have an opinion on what the‘mobile mind-shift’ means for the future development of mobile apps, tell us about it!

Uniface deployment currency survey – a few weeks in

Hopefully you’re all aware of the Uniface application deployment currency survey which we sent out a few weeks ago. After a few weeks, we’ve had a good number of responses (over 100), and I was asked a few times what the results are looking like, so I thought I’d share some details.

From a platform/OS perspective, the top platforms which Uniface customers are using,  are Windows and Linux, which doesn’t really surprise me, as this is the feedback I get, based on what I get in regards to requests, tech support calls and so on. They are also the platforms we usually deliver maintenance by default.

Uniface Platforms Currently in use. (Nov 2014)
Uniface Platforms Currently in use. (Nov 2014)
  • And from a database perspective, there were a few surprises.
    Some are using PostgreSQL, although we’ve not even start the development of a native driver, it’s planned for the new year.
  • ODBC is being used more than I expected.
  • Sybase is being used more than expected.

I expected the majority of Uniface apps to be deployed with Oracle, MS SQL Server and MySQL, which seems to be the case.

Uniface deployment databases currently in use. (Nov 2014)
Uniface deployment databases currently in use. (Nov 2014)

Finally, there does seem to be interest in NoSQL databases, which is really interesting, we will be following up on that in the future.

I will share some more at a later date.

And if you click on the graphics, they will zoom (a good Uniface term!) and they are more readable!

photo 5

Uniface Details its Mobile Strategy and Roadmap during North American User Group Event

Other Conference Highlights Include Keynotes from Forrester Research and Uniface 10 Workshops

photo 5

Uniface is hosting its annual North American user conference in Las Vegas this week, which brings together its many users from across the United States.

During the conference, Uniface will detail its mobile strategy to create cross platform mobile applications; and how it can help address the current opportunities and challenges of developing mobile apps. Mike Gualtieri, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research will add to the discussion with two keynote presentations – ‘Mobile Is the Norm, Now Innovation Must Begin’ and ‘ The Future of Application Development’. It is an information packed agenda with sessions updating attendees on the ‘new’ Uniface, customer presentations, Uniface 10 workshops, a speed networking event and much more.  This event kicks off a Uniface world tour to help customers address the pressing challenge of mobile development with events in Germany, the Netherlands, Mexico and Japan scheduled this year and other locations in the planning.

James blog

A Recap of the First Uniface 10 Workshop

Last week I had the pleasure of running the very first Uniface 10 Workshop, the first time anyone outside Uniface has got their hands on the new IDE being introduced in Uniface 10.

James blog

Our aim for the session was to trial run the workshop that we’d be using at this year’s user events. Having a large group of customers in the room was also too good an opportunity to miss so we were keen to use the day to get as many first impressions, thoughts and ideas from people as possible.

In all we had 22 people from The Netherlands, Belgium, England and Germany representing 11 different companies. This included a number of unscheduled gate crashers making for a very busy classroom!

After some scene settings presentations from Adrian Gosbell, Henk van der Veer and Erik Mulder from Ergos ( everyone dived into the workshop exercises, exploring the new IDE whilst building a small Uniface web application. We had plenty of Uniface lab staff on hand to answer questions (thanks guys!) and before long everyone was well on their way.

Since Uniface queries were being fielded by a crack team of our own developers I was free to wander around and discuss things with anyone that made eye contact. Of particular interest to me was discussing how the new project concepts in Uniface 10 can aid people’s development processes and release procedures. I love a good release procedure.

To wrap things up we split into groups to discuss specific areas of the IDE. Everyone was able to pick an area such as projects, navigation or script editors to go and have a focused discussion on with a chance to put questions and opinions to the Uniface 10 development team directly.

I’d like to thank everyone that made the trip to Amsterdam. The feedback around Uniface 10 has already been very positive and invaluable. We certainly have a lot of bed time reading to get through.

My main objective for the session was to ensure that the exercises and the workshop environment technically worked and were enjoyable to go through. On this front we’ve been able to make some tweaks here and there ahead of the user events. So many thanks again to all the willing guinea pigs.