Panel: Enterprises have a lot to learn from consumer mobile apps

Summary:Now that BYOD is a given, many enterprises are moving towards a mobile-first strategy. If they're not, then it's time to start.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Now that BYOD (bring your own device) is pretty much a given in the enterprise world, it's time for most enterprises to think long and hard about the apps they are building and supporting for their employees.

Based on the opinions of a panel of IT and mobility executives speaking at the Open Mobile Summit on Thursday afternoon, it would seem that most enterprises still have a lot to learn about building better apps from the consumer world.

"Enterprise is historically a desktop operation," said Bob Schukai, global head of mobility at Thomson Reuters, continuing on that as we take that journey into mobile, people are saying they'll just take that application on the desktop and try to jam it onto a mobile device.

Schukai warned that's "the single biggest mistake taking place in the enterprise today." He posited that it's about offering the two to three most important features and tasks, which are then optimized for smaller mobile device screen sizes.

"You have to create an emotional connection between the applications you build and the human beings who use it," Schukai asserted.

Of course, that is easier said than done.

"There's still that struggle between seeing tablets as toys and as productivity tools," admitted Vinay Venugopal, director of IT strategy at ING Direct.

Brian Byun, vice president and general manager of end user computing and mobility at VMware, remarked that most enterprise apps could also use some retooling as far as design and usability are concerned.

Although he described that enterprises are "still in the second inning" in terms of producing their own mobile apps with basic enablement done, he remained optimistic, replying that "there's not a lot to lose sleep over."

Concurring with the other panelists, Venugopal that a big priority at the financial services company is looking at what they've learned on the consumer side and bringing that into the enterprise.

Venugopal cited that ING was the first first banking institution worldwide to have a mobile banking app for all major mobile operating systems. He added that the company's experiences with creating mobile experiences for clients has taught us a lot them a lot about three areas in particular: usability, relevance and context.

Looking forward, Venugopal said that ING is in the midst of testing some sophisticated new security features for its mobile apps, including experimenting with biometrics, voice authentication and natural language commands.

But the biggest concern for mobile right now, Schukai acknowledged, is probably monetization and justifying how these apps are making money and/or improved productivity.

Quite simply, Schukai concluded that "people are pretty lazy about monetizing enterprise," adding that there's so much that enterprises can take from the consumer world to fix these issues.

More from the Open Mobile Summit 2012:

Topics: Enterprise 2.0, Consumerization, IT Priorities, Smartphones, Tablets

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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