Kinetise, an app building platform and Disrupt hackathon favorite, aims to democratize the the the process of creating native mobile apps for iOS and Android in the enterprise. Using a drag-and-drop interface, the system essentially lets you build and deploy native apps, visually. In this way, non-developers are able to create and deploy mobile apps.
The company originally focused on selling app development to startups but soon found that “citizen developers” inside of big enterprise organizations were using the platform to make one-off apps for data collection. The company recently added a number of enterprise-ready features as a result including encrypted connections, powerful database tools, and improved GPS location management. This means that a lay user in a corporation could use the platform to track deliveries, collect insurance claims in the field, or simply create time-tracking apps.
Historically I have been suspect of platform approaches like this. When I first encountered these kinds of tools a few years ago, their main use was for developers to be able to build mobile apps for multiple operating systems (like iOS, Android, Blackberry) from a single logical base of business rules and then publish multiple apps simultaneously.
Not being a hardcore developer myself, I heard different opinions from different developers at that time. More traditional developers I spoke with loved the idea and were hopeful that there could be massive time savings. Mobile developers I spoke with were pessimistic and thought the tools would be brittle and inflexible for solving true mobile solutions in native languages.
But Kinetise’s system is far more robust than others I’ve seen and honestly what interested me the most about it were some of the outcomes the team discovered.
In a quick skype call with Kinetize’s CEO Piotr Pawlak, he described a key insight he and his team noticed prior to one deployment.
“We started our product as an easy way to make native apps. We were pretty popular with startups and experimenters but we saw something really interesting: enterprises were using our product to make one-off apps,” he said. “We did a little research and it looks like enterprise is following what Gartner called the “Citizen Developers” model: they’re building internal apps instead of web pages.”
Therein lies one of Kinetise’s strengths. It is a rapid development program for internal, enterprise apps. Granted, the platform still has a way to build apps for regular public deployment in app stores too, but enterprise seems to be a major target and strength.
I can see this advantage, as there are definitely many, large workforces of remote, mobile, enterprise workers out there who need mobile tools that have the ability to function “offline” when network connectivity is not possible. For these scenarios, native mobile apps are a great solution and would have an advantage over mobile websites.
“Kinetise is not another template-based apps creator,” said Pawlak. “We are not building apps for restaurants, beauty-parlors, etc. We offer real, custom apps, but without coding. Our customers put those apps together like kids put together LEGO bricks but when they’re done they have a working app on Android and iOS. No one else can say that.”
The client responses they are getting are fueling their confidence that their approach is robust enough be a legit development tool and are aiming to disrupt the the status quo of mobile app development.