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

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

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  • Bending reality?

    Unsure I agree with this statement:

    "Now that BYOD (bring your own device) is pretty much a given in the enterprise world"

    We've been pushing a BYOD program for 2 years and have little no adoption by employees. I'd wager 98% have no interest in ever using any of their technology at work. Likely due to the lengthy legal disclaimer they need to agree to.

    BYOD works great in some (usually tech focused companies) and in others you're lucky to get 10-20% adoption.

    Consumer Apps have one big difference - they have little to no regard to data complaince and regulatory controls. They will use (and sell) your data to keep their "free" service running.

    You'll likely see larger enterprise Apps once HTML 5 gets traction, no one is going to program to each platform and standard. Companies have barely enough staff to keep things running at this point.
    • Re: We've been pushing a BYOD program for 2 years and have little no adopt

      See, that's your problem. BYOx is supposed to be user-driven, not management-driven. If management tries to push the users into it, the company gets seen as cheapskates, trying to get the users to pay for gear to use for company work.
      • Entitlement?

        No that's employees problem as the main reason they want BYOD is to cirmcumvent corporate policies and controls. The days of skating by and using your device of choice on the fringe are going away. Corporations are all to keen to pass costs onto employees and the cry to use their own gadget of choice has allowed this shift so don't complain about it.

        BTW I fully have no desire to ever use any of my tech at work. If work deems I need any technology they will provide it and I will use whatever they deem meets my requirements. BYOD is really about seperating need vs. want.
        • Re: "has allowed this shift"

          Weird. And yet above you were trying to argue that, at your company, this shift was NOT taking place.
          • Correct

            At our company (fortune 100) we have little to no BYOD adoption. I'd wager for every 50 Blackberry we deploy we have 1 iPhone user in the program. At the end of the day people take free.

            My comment was more in general on the acceptance of BYOD. It's mostly seen as a cost shift now.

            CIO - Management - we have employees that want to use and pay for their own smartphone.

            Board - Will it save us money?

            CIO - We could reduce our mobile spend by 50% (fiction as we are lucky to stay cost neutral)

            Board - Great! What other expenses can we pass over? Maybe laptops?

            The bottom line is what were perks of a job are now viewed as undesired my those that have better tech than their employer provides. Sadly this vocal group are a handful of employees. Most employees prefer to pay nothing or keep their tech seperate.

            The cost of using your own smartphone, tablet and laptop is almost like a pay reduction. The only one who benefits is the employer. There is zero benefit outside of "using your own device" which loses luster when you get stuck with a repair cost, data roaming expense etc.