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Partner Gets Ahead of the Curve on Windows 8 App Development

There are a group of partners in the Microsoft channel who aren't waiting for universal adoption of Windows 8. Partners who are charging ahead to lead their customers, not follow them, into the next generation.

Businesses are struggling to keep up with an evolving workplace where paper processes and outdated line-of-business software don't work. Partners at the forefront of Windows 8 are already delivering the solutions that support the new workforce.

Ahead of the Curve
One of those partners leading the way is BlueMetal Architects, which earned the U.S. Windows Microsoft Application Acceleration Program (MAAP) Execution Excellence Partner of the Year for its efforts. MAAP provides funding assistance for Microsoft customers who lead their industry in committing to build custom line-of-business or business-to-consumer applications on the Windows 8 platform. 

"The MAAP program has enabled us to take the latest technology to clients, delivering on the incredible promise of modern touch applications," said Szymon Rozga, BlueMetal senior software engineer. "Our teams are passionate about early-stage technology and our ability to access and exercise it through our client work."

BlueMetal attributes its success with early adoption to its active engagement with the Microsoft development community. "In 2012 we participated in two code camps, three training engagements, one conference presentation on Windows 8, and contributed to the creation of Windows 8 MCSD exams. We also had two Windows 8 MCSDs on board before the end of the year," said Dmitri Artamonov, senior software engineer at BlueMetal. "When you are this grounded in the community, you have a much deeper understanding of the technologies you're dealing with and therefore are pushing the cutting edge forward instead of lagging behind it."

Tablets Open the Door
The bulk of apps that BlueMetal is building for Windows 8 are designed for tablets, driven primarily by the market. But those apps also help to support Microsoft's aggressive goals to promote Windows tablet adoption in the enterprise. Any partner looking to get Microsoft's attention this year should be tuned into the fact that many a Microsoft employee's 2014 compensation is tied to how much traction Windows tablets can get in the enterprise space.   

[Click on image for larger view.] Screenshot of BlueMetal's app for Tech Data, accessTD.

For most clients, replacing paper processes or aging line-of-business applications are driving the need for Windows 8 apps. A few examples include an app that replaces paper binders for field inspection agents, a timecard app for engineers on remote locations and an insurance adjuster app. Seeing huge opportunity in health care, BlueMetal added an industry expert to the team to build its medical services vertical.

"Another big challenge for our clients is platform fracturing," Artamonov added. "Windows 8 uniquely provides the opportunity to unify the mobile devices in the organization on a single platform, reducing the costs of owning a fleet of mobile devices."

Enterprise Apps as an Extension of Consumer Apps
BlueMetal places a lot of value in the design to meet the higher expectations set by consumer apps. "We really see the next generation of the enterprise app as mobile, data-driven and having a social layer. Like the consumer app that people can't live without. It has a solid architecture and infrastructure, but it is very intuitive and easy to use," explained Sadie Van Buren, BlueMetal's director of marketing. "That is what we see as the future and are working to bring to the enterprise."

User interface design ranks high on the list of requirements to meet those expectations. BlueMetal employs a staff of design experts to add the sophistication in appearance that enterprise apps now demand. Not surprisingly, it's still a challenge to get the budget, but the value of user interface design is gaining more traction. 

Partners in the channel like BlueMetal are betting the future on the universal adoption of tablets and Windows 8 in the enterprise. There are clearly plenty of businesses, small and large, that are just getting by on old applications and platforms. Pent-up demand and a much better way of doing business seem to be a good combination of factors to bet on. 

How are you promoting Windows 8 apps in the enterprise? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 29, 2013