Model Metrics, a company that helps enterprises implement cloud services, is now offering to build mobile applications that draw on cloud-based software.
Model Metrics has been developing such mobile capabilities, which typically let mobile workers use CRM (customer relationship management) applications or take orders from their phones, but often on a custom basis.
"We're moving from a single code base to a modular architecture so we can ... take the modules and pull together features and functionality to meet certain use cases," said John Barnes, chief technology officer at Model Metrics.
Model Metrics figures that the prebuilt functions will meet 80 percent of the needs of most businesses, and it can customize the rest. Those prebuilt functions are aimed at companies working in the life sciences, consumer goods, financial services and retail markets, and include barcode scanning, signature capture, order entry and call routing.
Model Metrics is primarily focused on building mobile extensions to cloud-based services, such as Salesforce.com and those built on Amazon Web Services.
"One advantage of these cloud platforms is you can sync from a mobile device to the cloud without intermediate servers or a VPN," Barnes said. "The architecture is seamless." If the application is instead hosted internally, the device must communicate through a virtual private network or go through other security procedures to reach the internal server.
While some services, such as that offered by Salesforce.com, already have mobile extensions, they sometimes aren't ideal, Barnes said. "Most mobile apps aren't that customizable. You can't move tabs. You may also need to do things that lots of apps don't out of the box, like signature capture or barcode scanning," he said.
In addition, some of the existing mobile applications limit use when there is limited or no wireless connectivity. Model Metrics' platform lets people continue to use the application even when they are out of range.
Model Metrics can build the apps for iPhones, iPads, BlackBerry phones and Windows Mobile devices.
The company uses Adobe Air to build the applications but must build to iOS for the iPhone. "Part of our strategy is to be as scalable as possible and maintain a single code base as much as possible," said Dave Dahlberg, chief marketing officer for Model Metrics. The company sees some customers that are exclusive iPhone users, but many more use a variety of phones, he said.