Is 'mobile-second' the new ticket to unlocking mobile in the enterprise?

Is the mobile-first strategy even necessary? Some execs would say no.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The "mobile-first" strategy has swept through the technology landscape from the startup level to the enterprise over the last year or two.

Arguably, the key to building a mobile product has been not to just reformat an existing solution for a smaller screen, but rather start from scratch with a completely different audience in mind.

But a number of enterprise tech giants have found that isn't always necessary.

Speaking during a panel discussion at MobileBeat 2013 on Wednesday, executives from Zendesk,, CloudOn and CrushPath described how they found success on the desktop first and managed to successfully translate that to mobile after the fact.

"We actually think about each device, then the context, the use case, and how you create a micro-moment experience to leverage that device," Bard explained.

For example, Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane revealed that more than sixty percent of customer reps using the customer service platform (at least "a few hundred thousand people," he estimated) are also using the native app in conjunction with the desktop experience.

Rich Wong, panel moderator and a partner at VC firm Accel Partners, led off the discussion by describing the enterprise tech market as "where the real money is made" by building real business leveraging the mobile trend.

Alex Bard, a senior vice president and general manager at, warned not to slight the desktop experience, saying flatly, "PCs aren't dead. People are still using PCs."

Bard estimated that 20 percent of enterprise apps today are available for desktop and mobile usage, continuing on to cite a Gartner forecast predicting that will jump to 90 percent by 2017.

"We actually think about each device, then the context, the use case, and how you create a micro-moment experience to leverage that device," Bard explained about the Salesforce perspective on the "mobile second" concept.

He highlighted later that Salesforce's portfolio is comprise of both applications as well as a platform, which suggests that "mobile-second" paints a more comprehensive picture that the mobile-first strategy doesn't quite meet.

He also drew the parallels between consumer tech apps and what enterprise should copy, highlighting that success stories such as Instagram and Uber are built upon features encouraging consumption. Calling the consumerization of IT trend to mind, Bard hinted enterprise apps need to do the same.

Wong pointed toward security and privacy as two ever-pressing issues when it comes to mobile devices in the enterprise.

CloudOn CEO and founder Milind Gadekar posited that two different access points to think about here: the end user (who might not care as much about security) and enterprise IT admins with their own sets of compliance requirements.

He asserted that control needs to be given to IT more because they will define policies.

"It's very much about device management, identity management and policy management," Gadekar continued.

Svane maintained a positive outlook regardless, suggesting that with native apps, it can be easier to monitor exactly what apps have been activated on which devices.