CORDIS - EU research results

Advanced Back end as a service Engine

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AB ENGINE (Advanced Back end as a service Engine)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2015-08-31

In recent years, opportunities in the Mobile applications market have grown significantly and Mobile applications have become a thriving business segment in the IT market. Competition in the mobile applications segment has become intense and the availability of a variety of useful mobile applications in the application store has become a key constraint when buying a mobile hand set. With the explosion of mobile applications, the intense competition in the market and the increasing popularity of the ‘Bring your own device’ culture has created a necessity for faster mobile application development methodologies. Many companies have recognized these opportunities and started offering bundled services like server side infrastructure, middleware, ready to integrate features and IDE for mobile application development in the name of ‘Mobile Backend as a Service’. MBaaS provides a solution to some common pain points that are faced by application developers:
MBaaS reduces the complexities of the application development by dealing with the complex server side programming, reducing the redundancy in creating backend code blocks, providing ready to integrate features and template backend.
MBaaS allows developers to focus more on the front end of the applications and the marketing activities needed for the application.
With MBaaS developers can reduce the time needed to develop their applications by 70%. Also MBaaS providers are offering flexible benefit plans which keep the initial investment for developing mobile applications minimal. Mobile represents in fact the first personal mass-media device and one of the fastest growing industries in the world. To stay ahead in this ever changing landscape, developers need to focus on creating differentiating value on the client side of their applications.
AppsBuilder, an innovative SME providing solutions to mobile app developers, has the ambition to increase its market and profit by providing large organisations, small and medium web agencies and app vendors and app designers with an innovative framework tool for managing ready and easy to use backend features, namely an advanced MBaaS (Mobile Back end as a Service).
The proposed AB ENGINE solution fully meets the growing need for realizing mobile applications, without the obligation of being experienced and skilled in the field. Thanks to this ground-breaking solution users can focus their attention on the front-end rather than the backend of the application. This will allow both organisations and individual developers to realise effective mobile applications and manage functionalities to keep content constantly updated and users engaged.
To achieve such results, AppsBuilder has carried out the Phase 1 of the H2020 SME Instrument call, in order to assess the technical feasibility and to produce a business plan for the AB ENGINE solution. The specific objectives of Phase 1 will be:
• Technical assessment: the analysis will be focused mainly on realising look & feel mock-ups of the back end and definition of additional marketing functionalities to implement in the commercial version during phase 2;
• Operational capacity: it will focus on HR and competences needs, stakeholders, partners and supply chain (e.g. for the procurement of commercial software);
• Market analysis: it will deliver report providing a detailed analysis on the mobile apps and MBaaS markets, including a thorough competition analysis; moreover, a detailed business plan will be delivered for defining a clear mission and vision, with achievable and realistic objectives for the new business, clear business models, detailed 5-year ROI analysis and risk analysis;
• Planning of phase II, with possible presentation of request for funding for SME Instrument Phase II
During Phase 1, AppsBuilder has carried out activities in order to complete the Feasibility Study related to Ab ENGINE.
To this end, technical, operational and economic feasibility of the project have been assessed.

A) In the technical feasibility the following activities have been carried out and the following results achieved:
The AppsBuilder team fulfilled a complete system analysis and definition of requirements by promoting an assessment, both internal and external with current customers and users of its products, through surveys, interviews and trials, in order to benefit of clients’ feedback, and enhance the system in terms of required functionalities, design and usability.
Trials and tests have been carried out and the overall AB ENGINE system architecture has been defined, in order to foresee modular features.
The features to be implemented have been defined in order to identify the services and the functionalities which have to be made available.
Results achieved: the identification of the features to be implemented, the functionalities of the users’ dashboard and the logic schema of the AB ENGINE architecture.

B) In the Operational Capacity the following activities have been carried out and the following results achieved:
AppsBuilder has exhaustively planned its need for project implementation in terms of HRs - technical, commercial, customer service, management- partnerships - subcontracts have been planned both for the implementation of the platform and the brand reputation building -and costs of investment as a whole, which have been set at 1,36 Million Euros.
The operational needs (economic and operative) to address effectively the targeted customers have been evaluated and a skilled business developer manager has been foreseen. Currently AppsBuilder is evaluating several candidates to cover this role. Moreover, AppsBuilder has planned effective marketing online activities and a strong implementation of AppsBuilder AB ENGINE brand reputation in order to strongly support the business developer manager.
In order to maintain the entire IPR related to AB ENGINE, AppsBuilder has decided not to involve other organisations as full partners in the Phase 2 implementation but to assign subcontracts and therefore maintain full control and ownership of the project outcomes.
Results achieved: the identification of the operational needs, the skills and expertise to be involved in the project and the kind of subcontractors to be engaged.

C) In the Economic Feasibility the following activities have been carried out and the following results achieved:
The MBaaS sector has been confirmed to be a sector with only a few competitors worldwide but with high potentialities, that demonstrates the great opportunities represented by this market.
AB ENGINE solution will address a market need with an affordable product, capable of reducing the time needed to develope apps backend and strongly support customers’ profitability by increasing their capability to deliver on the market a higher number of apps in shorter time.
The Profit&Loss of the investment has been performed and a suitable pricing has been determined to be 13€/app.
Promising forecasts have shown high profitability of the investment, with the recommendation to reach the target set by the intermediate scenario (7 engaged big customers), which ensures a valuable profit and return on investment. An expected net profit of 11.1 M€ is foreseen in the intermediate scenario.
The cash flow of the investment (both in the Phase 2 implementation and in the next years) has been carefully assessed, and according to the forecasted figures, the initial negative cash flow will be covered by AppsBuilder’s own resources deriving from its current profits.
Results achieved: the identification of the best target users, the definition of a business model and three business scenarios; the definition of a pricing policy, a the redaction of a commercialisation strategy to be used for carrying out the Phase 2 and a 5yr business plan confirming the profitability of the project.
AB ENGINE is expected to fully meets the needs of mobile application developers, large organisations, SMEs and individuals to realise mobile applications, without the obligation of being experienced and skilled in the field, and allows them to focus their attention to the front end rather than to the back end of the application. Indeed, nowadays mobile app development and management requires the relevant investment both in time and money to realize successful applications in a reasonable time to market and in keeping the users engaged, without wasting time and money in technology obsolescence.
AB ENGINE will be a complete and innovative solution implementing advanced back end functionalities enabling organisations and individual developers to realise effective mobile applications and to manage functionalities for keeping the content updated and the user engaged. AB ENGINE drammatically reduces the complexities of the application development by dealing with the complex server side programming, reducing to almost zero the time to market and the effort spent by apps developers in realising apps. Indeed through AB ENGINE mobile apps are expected to be set up and configured in about 1 person day against appox 5 person months necessary with the traditional manner.
The main features will be developed will belong to three big area of application:
A companion dashboard providing a graphic interface for interacting with AB ENGINE APIs will be implemented so no technical knowledge is needed to create and manage apps by APIs, which can be easily tailored, customised and updated to manage the mobile apps front end keeping the content updated and the users engaged with the organisations, without the need to create own back end systems, and providing the possibility to focus the effort just in the content provided rather than in the technical aspects;
Analytics & Engagement services: they will provide the possibility of promoting apps, engaging end-users and monitoring the results through pre-configured features to support the users’ tracking, marketing automation and measurement requirements. They will make usage of the following tools: promotional channels, iBeacon indoor proximity, Push notifications, A/B test for testing multiple variants of the app front end performance, Analytics;
Business needs modules: the inclusion of features supporting and boosting Business is always at the base of the choice to build an app. AB ENGINE foresees several functionalities capable of boosting customers’ business through geolocation, events management, insight features.
AB ENGINE unique selling points will be: i) strong time to market reduction in realizing mobile apps (1 day vs 5 person months); ii) ensured compliance of the product with existing technologies and protocol; iii) strong costs decrease in the mobile apps implementation.
The expected impacts of the AB ENGINE commercialisation will be strong at European level. On the one side it will empower EU companies to better deal and take advantage of the strong increase of the mobile app demand in all the main sectors: in the next few years mobile apps are expected to become the main tool for supporting business opportunities through interaction between organisations and their potential customers, as the websites and the social networks currently are; indeed at European level the revenue from making apps for consumer goods, banking, media, retail and other clients, is expected to grow to €46 Bln by 2018, from €11.5 Bln in 2013.
On the other side, AB ENGINE will boost European job positions’ increase due to the app market growth and therefore fully meet the European Commission’ objectives to overcome the current scenario of youth unemployment and digital skills crisis through the organisation of a number of initiatives such as by partnering with industry and other organisations in the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs (IP/2014/40), bringing digital skills right into the connected classroom (IP/13/859 and MEMO/13/813) and supporting grassroots initiatives such as EU Code week, organised by Neelie Kroes' young advisors.
Ab ENGINE concept