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The seismic hole in business app development and why it’s business critical to close it

By Nassar Hussain, Managing Director, Europe, Middle East & Africa at SOTI

 People have embraced mobility because of the success and adoption of apps. It might sound like a bold and somewhat sweeping statement; however, research shows apps dominate with 90 per cent of time spent on mobile being on apps, supporting the important role apps play in our mobility revolution.

 App use is only going to increase, indeed Gartner predicted that more than 268 billion app downloads will generate $77 billion worth of revenue in 2017.

 However, while many people can reel off the consumer facing apps they use everyday to make life admin that bit more bearable, if the question was posed in relation to business apps what would they say? There might be a mention of Dropbox and Evernote, but business app development and deployment are way behind consumer targeted apps – so much so that there is a clear app gap.

 So what has caused the gap, why there is a need to close the gap now, and what could the future look like for business apps?

 Mind the gap

The enterprise app gap is clear to see. In such a crowded marketplace, why have so few apps been built with the enterprise in mind? Arguably, traditionally it has been difficult for new apps to break through and show their worth to businesses. Security concerns in relation to using apps in the enterprise have also been hurdles for development. This has left some apps feeling clunky to use and lacking in modern User Interface (UI) which despite winning on the security front has left end users feeling uninspired, which has resulted in a lack of adoption.

 In-house IT professionals have also struggled with some business apps in relation to their administration. Some have been a challenge to deploy because of difficult configurations and inconsistent or confusing set ups. The potential for unsecured app usage also causes headaches that busy and stretched IT departments don’t want to handle.

 App developers have also faced challenges when it comes to finding the right audience and doing their due diligence in the marketplace. The enterprise also presents a challenge in relation to build configuration.

 Therefore, with both IT and development struggling with the gap in enterprise app market a chasm has been created.

 Closing the business app gap

It can be argued the lack of business apps available in the marketplace is because the enterprise is cautious of employees using them and fundamentally being concerned about how to manage them. And of course, there are a number of ways of managing these issues. Strategic mobility management allays these fears by putting businesses in control of app deployment, security and usage. It recognises and appropriately responds to changing user demands and behaviours. How important is it for organisations to put apps on their mobility agenda? In a word: very.

 A recent study by global supply management company AEB highlights that the gap has started to become smaller in industries like transport and logistics. The study illustrates this change has been driven from the top down and although many companies have not yet embraced business apps, the expectations and interest this technology generates are very high.

 As mobility becomes even more business critical, apps will help to drive further efficiencies and make organisations more competitive. For example: apps that enable employees to log their time or expenses remotely.

 With 70 per cent of UK businesses having employees working remotely by 2020, business apps will help employees to work effectively and seamlessly at home alongside their office bound colleagues.

 Some businesses may be concerned they don’t have the skillset in-house for app development or they feel outsourcing might be too expensive. However, the same rules apply to any new project. Begin by understanding your goals and make sure they are defined as well as being measurable. Carry out research, what’s going on in that particular industry? Are there any key players you could collaborate with as this is often a cheaper option and there would also be benefits in terms of quality assurance.Also the app developer community likes to be challenged and to be asked questions, so it’s good to seek their guidance as people are keen to contribute.

 The future of the enterprise app gap

 The future will continue to be in app downloads; therefore, acting to close the enterprise app gap now is crucial and some industries are making headway.

 The industry is looking to close in on a major hurdle for some businesses – the security concerns that are contributing to a lack of business app adoption in the enterprise. The future is heading towards innovations such as app tunnelling, which ensures sensitive data is encrypted and undoubtedly there will be more to come.

 However, strong and holistic mobility management strategies currently in place within organisations of very different shapes, sizes and remits are already helping to allay security fears and allowing businesses to make the most of apps. With the gauntlet laid down for businesses to facilitate more mobile working and to make the process as effective as possible it seems clear that a greater adoption of enterprise apps will aid this. The enterprise app gap needs to be lessened in order for businesses to keep up with mobile working demands and it should be a key priority for organisations looking to grow and develop.