According to Gartner, 'by the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organisations’ capacity to deliver them.' In plain English, it simply means that unless something changes, organisations won’t be able to keep up with the customer expectation for mobile applications. It’s great news for enterprise app developers, but the reality is that most people’s experiences of enterprise-specific mobile apps have often been a little underwhelming.
In the consumer world, mobility progressed in three general phases: Initiation, Evolution, and Maturity. Initiation was the initial influx of mobile devices, seven or eight years ago, when smartphones and tablets finally caught on. Evolution saw websites designed to be mobile-friendly and the development of mobile-specific applications. In the final phase, Maturity, we saw the introduction of mobile-first and even mobile-only apps — think WhatsApp and Snapchat.
And although the consumer marketplace is now enjoying the benefits of the Maturity stage, the enterprise world is still stuck somewhere between Initiation and Evolution. Businesses must catch up.
Defining the 'mobile moment'
According to research from Forrester, nearly half (48 per cent) of business decision makers are already implementing productivity mobile apps. A further 42 per cent are implementing or have implemented web/video conferencing mobile apps. Similarly, 42 per cent are implementing or have implemented document collaboration mobile apps.
For the most part however, these applications rarely offer users anything more than a mobile-optimised website would. The corporate world still lacks truly mobile-first services, such as Waze, WhatsApp, Google Maps or Evernote, which can help to create positive experiences, or 'mobile moments', for users.
Take Waze for example, a social media traffic app which uses GPS data and user input (warnings and advice from other drivers) to help you avoid traffic jams. For many users, the app is of value only at that point in time and at that location — this is Waze’s mobile moment. Its instantaneous nature – made possible by smartphone technology – is vital; if you needed to fire up your laptop, find a Wi-Fi connection, and search for alternate routes, the app would be relatively useless.
While there aren’t currently many corporate mobile-first apps, it seems that investing in mobile does pay off. In July 2015, VMware conducted a survey of 1,200 business decision makers (BDMs) and IT decision makers (ITDMs) worldwide. Among other things, they found that 73 per cent of customers who had executed a business mobility plan had reduced IT operational staff time by an average of 29 per cent, and that 34 per cent had reduced IT costs by an average of 20 per cent. What’s more, those that had fully implemented a business mobility strategy saw a return on investment two times greater than those not executing a business mobility plan.
Imagine how those numbers might increase if enterprise business mobility apps were actually compelling — and perhaps even genuinely fun — to use.
Glimpses of what’s to come
We need to find new ways to create those mobile moments, and that starts with businesses realising that this space needs organic innovation. Your employees are getting used to having amazing mobile software experiences outside of their daily workflow, and smart companies that want to keep them happy — and productive — should pay attention to what that means.
Ian Evans, Vice President, End User Computing EMEA, VMware