Enterprise mobile apps are still treated as second-class citizens

Surveys document the rising importance of mobile apps to digital-crazed enterprises -- yet, nobody is happy with how they're being built and deployed.

Mobile has been steadily increasing its role within the client side of enterprise computing, yet many still seem to be struggling with mobile app development and management.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

There's a solid business case to be made for opening up core enterprise applications and data to mobile access. In a recent survey of 200 executives by IFS, digital transformation leaders were shown to be more open to mobile app access. They were more than twice as likely to access their software from a mobile device than those who said their software did a poor job of preparing them for digital transformation.

However, there is work to be done in this front. While 70% of executives overall agreed that increasing mobile access to enterprise software may be an immediate digital transformation opportunity, only 31% actually provide access enterprise software through a mobile device at this time.

Time to bring in IT and the consultants to get things moving on mobile? This seems to be problematic as well, another recent survey finds. A study of 1,000 executives sponsored by Kony finds a stunning lack of confidence in internal IT in developing and deploying mobile apps. Among business leaders who have invested in mobile app development internally over the past 12 months, the majority (65%) say they're not completely satisfied with their IT department's management of the overall user experience of apps. Only 19% feel that working with their in-house IT department is the best solution to develop their apps.

What are some of the problems being encountered with IT's work with mobile apps? The leading issue was a lack of skilled staff (42%), as well as limited IT budgets (40%) and security (37%). At least 27% say their IT departments don't give apps enough priority.

Business leaders are not happy with the job outside consultants or service firms have done with mobile apps, either. While 73% manage mobile app development externally, 92% of this group feel the projects did not meet their expectations. More than two in five, 43%, say they were hit with higher-than-expected costs to develop the app, while 41% say they did not anticipate the costs involved in maintaining externally developed apps. Another 39% complained that they weren't able to customize the apps as much as they wanted.

It's clear that mobile apps need to be a core element of enterprise technology startegies, as these are the choice of many end-users and customers. The IFS survey report's authors observe that mobile apps enable accurate and real-time collection of enterprise information for more efficient operation and executive decision support, as well as improves the customer experience. Corporate end-users also see productivity boosts, as it opens up greater interaction with key systems.

It's important, then, to approach mobile app development and deployment with all the care and feeding afforded to more traditional enterprise applications. No longer should mobile apps be one-off or low-priority projects that get a minimal amount of time and thought processes. These may be the way most users and customers access enterprise systems from this point forward.

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