• IT_Career in App Dev

    How to Leverage Existing IT Skills to Join the Growing Mobile Development Community

    According to 2013 year-end Nielsen data, the average consumer uses about two dozen mobile applications, or apps, per month. There are over a million mobile apps available for download in the iTunes App Store and Google Play, and the time consumers spend using mobile apps has been steadily increasing over the past 2 years.

    Mobile application development could be a great place to look for career opportunity, especially given the changing mobile landscape. “A couple years ago, people started to come [to class] with tablets instead of laptops, with access to material in real time,” says Dr. Jacob Sharony, principal of mobile and wireless technology management consulting firm Mobius Consulting. “Mobile devices are very capable, and when you are mobile, you are connected and can know anything wherever you go.”

    Given the ubiquity of wireless Internet and mobile devices, IT professionals are already changing with the times. Employees are increasingly bringing their own mobile devices to work, rather than using company-provided hardware. As a result, IT professionals are asked to learn the science of data security and how to best utilize the cloud, rather than become hardware specialists.

    This means an IT community well positioned for the next generation of mobile developers. “We need people ensuring infrastructure is robust, no coverage holes exist, and a good user experience,” says Dr. Sharony. Sound like the qualities of your favorite mobile app? You bet.

    Ready, Set, Start Building 

    Given the opportunity, you may be asking yourself how to become an app developer and where is the best place to get started developing for mobile? A computer science degree is a great first step, but not necessarily a requirement. Many resources are available for learning programming languages, either online or in immersive classroom courses.

    Development for mobile requires a range of different skills; Apple recently launched Swift, which works alongside Objective-C (the main programming language of iOS apps), and some Silicon Alley developers surmise this may be the future in just a couple years. Conversely, if you’re looking to build Android apps, learning Java may be your best bet. Many consumer-facing companies will want both kinds of apps available for download.

    Once you start expanding your coding skill set, build something. The sooner you build a minimum viable product (or MVP), the sooner you can iterate upon it. Not only will you be developing mobile engineering skills to share with an employer, you will be practicing the iterative process. (This is a popular software engineering method, which uses feedback cycles to reach the final product.) What you build can be a jumping-off point for discussions with your manager about moving into the mobile space. Like with any engineering product, it is better to show than tell.

    If your current employer does not have a mobile presence, building one from the ground up can be an advantageous career move. If you work for a company that does have a mobile presence, it is likely your resources will be in high demand for a growing mobile development teamaccording to Forbes, 78 percent of enterprises with customer-facing apps report increases in their app audiences over the past year.

    Will your manager be open to advancement of your mobile development skills? Dr. Sharony believes they will. “Companies cannot stand still. If they don’t build something now, their competitors will do it first and it will be too late,” he advises.

    If you’re an IT professional interested in expanding to mobile, now may be a great time to give it a shot.



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