powwow at Citrix Synergy 2016 – How to transform existing applications into native mobile applications

I had the pleasure to meet with Kia Behnia at powwow to discuss powwow’s offering and future plans. You can find the full interview at the end of the article.

powwow is focusing on transforming existing applications into native mobile applications. The existing applications include commercial, packaged or custom applications.

Their principle is that there is limited to no coding required. They use machine learning to understand what the existing application does and then automatically transform 70% of the functionality of this application into a mobile app. The mobile app comes with a new design that is adjusted to mobile and very user-friendly. They can also cut an application into different personas, for example, some functionality only for the management and other functionality for a sales person. This way, they improve the end user experience on mobile.

We also talked about Windows apps. They are usually built for power users and come with a lot of input fields. On mobile, they have a slow response time and the usability is very low. powwow can transform these apps into highly user-friendly mobile apps. Furthermore, they offer an API layer that allows them and third party products to access the old business logic. So, they move forward with a new paradigm like including mobile features like the camera and GPS to scan barcodes and locate users, but they can still connect with the business logic in the backend that has been used for years. This is a very good solution for companies who don’t have a high development budget, or use a lot of applications, or don’t have a lot of time.

I wanted to know how long it takes to build a mobile application with powwow. Here, we need to differentiate between different scenarios.
A simple web application can be transformed in a day. However, a reasonably complex Windows application usually takes up to a month. This includes about a week to decompose it and create the new user interface, but then you need to add testing and user feedback. powwow compresses typical development steps but does not replace them.

powwow offers powwow studio to transform apps and their goal is to create a collaborative environment. This means, one app project can be shared with several people in the organization. This way, the app development process is sped up. In addition, usually, there is quite a waiting time to get the approval from the app store to be able to distribute an app. With powwow, incremental updates can be run by just connecting to the internet. When the user opens the application, it checks for updates. This way, customers do not need to go through the app store approval process every time there is an update.

powwow’s goal is to offer a solution like PowerPoint where apps can be built via drag&drop. No or low code is the idea. However, if drag&drop does not suffice, then code can be added via Java Script.

I asked Kia for their typical customer or typical industry they are working with. He said that inside the organization, his typical customer is the line of business manager. They mostly need apps for internal use, but sometimes also for partners and customers.
Industries, they are active in are Financial Services, Healthcare, Transportation, Utilities and others. He says, they all have unique use cases. He mentions a couple in the interview at the end of this article.

He also sees that there are use cases across industries, like approval processes or expense reporting. Something they do at powwow is to consolidate approval processes. Instead of having several tools or several systems with different logins to get approval, they build apps that deliver one access point for all these approval processes. This way, companies can move much faster as approval processes are shortened drastically.

Kia also said that when they talk to customers or do workshops, then customers usually come with more and more ideas on what processes they can simplify and accelerate with mobile apps.
Kia also brought up an example where a customer managed to hire young talent away from a competitor because they offered an app for the sales process instead of old-school and stationary Windows apps on a PC.

I also wanted to know, what the difference between re-factoring and transforming is. Kia explained that many companies think, that they simply re-factor an app (change code and make it work on mobile) and that’s it. But it is so much more. With a transformation you can really look at one or several existing applications, take the processes you really need and create one new mobile app for, for example, three old Windows applications. Also, they want to deliver a seamless experience across all devices (like Apple does with Hands-off). They call it Smart Roaming.

Natively, powwow support iOS and Android. For all other devices, like Windows Surface, they have a universal client.
In my opinion, powwow offer a great solution to connect the old world with the new one. They deliver the right tools to quickly build native apps (faster compared to native development), but also offer to customize with additional development.

As next steps, they want to work on templates for common use cases. Kia says, his vision is that powwow somehow works like WordPress. They deliver the platform to express ideas and deliver mobile applications, but the creativity comes from the designers and customers themselves.

I am excited to follow powwow and to see how they grow their community around the powwow platform.

Listen to the full interview below.

Have a great day!

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