By now, we know the undeniable link between cloud and mobile exists on so many levels, from personal content access to elastic resources, and the cloud drove most of the changes we've seen in the workplace over the past decade.
If you've been around long enough, you remember the hoops we used to jump through to share our content with ourselves. We would email ourselves a document or carry a thumb drive. None of these work-arounds are necessary anymore, thanks to the cloud. In fact I have a pile of USB drives gathering dust in my office that I simply don't use anymore.
Once we solved that problem, the mobile revolution made it simple to get at that content wherever we happened to be on whatever device we were using. The notion of the Internet cafe, a place to get computer access, is a vestige of the pre-mobile era when we needed to have a place outside of our homes to access the Internet.
I remember using computers at libraries or in hotel business centers to get my email when I was away from home in the early 2000s because people who didn't have BlackBerries couldn't get their email from the road any other way. Meanwhile apps and app stores allow us to access and install discrete cloud-connected applications on our smart phones very quickly.
This really changed the way we worked because we could now pull out our phones and access work content and systems from anywhere, and whole new businesses developed as a result. At the same time, companies recognizing that their employees wanted the latest and greatest phones began to allow people to bring their own devices to work, and businesses began to build custom apps in-house.
Where are the programmers?
The problem, of course, was and remains that there is so much demand for skilled programmers to create these apps for work, for play, and for communications. As companies look for ways to redesign workflows using mobile, the need for these skilled programmers has grown dramatically, but the supply has not kept up with demand.
Over time, companies have tried to fill that gap with citizen programmers by giving employees with a modicum of technical skill access to drag-and-drop programming tools. These kinds of tools existed before the cloud, but they have become increasingly imperative over time as this mobile programming skills/needs gap has grown ever wider.
Just this week, Salesforce tried to fill that gap to some extent—at least for businesses that use the Salesforce platform—by releasing a framework to allow untrained employees to create their own apps with some training and pre-built components.
Those components are built by the skilled programmer class, but the idea is to give someone the ability to build an app in fairly short order by dragging and dropping a series of components into an app-building interface.
It's unclear how well this will work or if the apps will look too generic or lack the elegant design that people have come to expect, but given this general lack of skilled programming staff available to businesses today, giving someone the skills to build simple apps without programming skills seems like a worthwhile goal.