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Software sea change due

Mobile apps to be huge in employees' working lives, conference told

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Joel Semeniuk brandishes fistfulls of portable devices. He spoke of changes in the software development world at a Winnipeg Conference Monday.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Joel Semeniuk brandishes fistfulls of portable devices. He spoke of changes in the software development world at a Winnipeg Conference Monday. Photo Store

There's a tsunami coming in the software development business and Joel Semeniuk says developers need to start getting ready for it.

The chief technology officer and co-founder of Imaginet, a Winnipeg software solution company, said the use of corporate mobile applications is going to grow dramatically and resources need to start being applied more quickly to expand its breadth.

Semeniuk gave the keynote address at the Prairie Dev Con conference in Winnipeg on Monday.

In an interview, he said it's the same pattern that happened years ago with the web, where enterprises were quick to put up websites for their customers but not so quick to create web applications for employees. But that changed rapidly.

"The same thing is happening in the mobile space," Semeniuk said. "Enterprises are quite readily making mobile apps available for their customers or to interact with customers, but they are not quite ready to rethink business processes to see how mobile could change how workers (interact with the enterprise) and how partnerships would work."

Semeniuk said the challenge is daunting and many companies do not know where to start, which is one of the problems.

"There are a lot of complexities," he said. "Not only regarding interacting with the cloud but also the mobile choices as well."

Data security is one of the challenges he believes can be overcome. He said some companies may be reluctant to have employees or partners interacting with sensitive corporate or customer data on mobile devices via the cloud. But the business community has gained plenty of experience after migrating corporate email systems to the cloud, starting 10 years ago. Many no longer worry about maintaining their own email servers.

"Companies now can control the data that's theirs that's on the mobile device, and if the device does get exposed, they can still maintain security," he said.

Imaginet is Microsoft's 2011 application life-cycle management (ALM) Partner of the Year and a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with ALM Competency.

Semeniuk said there are many startups working at coming up with mobile enterprise solutions but many of Imaginet's small and medium-sized business customers are looking for the likes of Microsoft and IBM to provide the solutions for them to use.

He said those developments are starting to happen and he believes under new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, those developments will ramp up faster.

Semeniuk spoke at the third edition of Prairie Dev Con in Winnipeg. It has also been held three times in Regina, once in Saskatoon and once in Calgary.

It is the brainchild of D'Arcy Lussier, a longtime consultant with Online Business Systems, another Winnipeg information technology company. He said the conferences are a way to provide a lower-cost means for the strong Prairie technology community to get updates on technology developments without having the expense of travelling to the larger cities where such conferences are more typically held.

Lussier said Semeniuk's use of the tsunami analogy to explain the kind of change developers will be facing is appropriate.

"There is always this tension in the information technology business between the need to maintain the systems we have today and the need to make sure we develop those smartly," Lussier said. "But then moving forward we also have to look what is coming."

He said there is a lot of evidence to suggest mobile is going to be bigger than web development was.

"So what we need to do is to lay the groundwork now to prepare for that," he said, "while at the same time we still need to maintain systems and make sure we are improving those at some level."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 8, 2014 B6

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Updated on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 11:16 AM CDT: Corrects reference to Online Business Systems

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