App issues inhibit enterprise mobility


Security and app management issues are holding back roll outs as companies take ad-hoc approach to workforce mobility

Low levels of mobile application adoption and sophistication among the UK's largest enterprise is limiting opportunities for increased workforce productivity and profitability, according to a new study.

While enterprises expressed a desire to develop a unified mobile application strategy, the majority revealed ad-hoc mobile app deployments to support mobile workers.

Senior IT decision makers said the majority of organisations (87%) have deployed workforce apps and that demand is accelerating with plans to increase the number next year, showed the survey commissioned by cloud-based mobile enterprise app provider FeedHenry, and carried out by research firm Vanson Bourne.

Almost half (44%) recognise that mobile apps play an important role in their business strategy but less than a tenth (7%) admitted to having fully deployed a mobile app strategy. Responses indicate that, despite a clear understanding of the benefits, many companies still have a reactive, unplanned approach to app development and are only beginning to consider platform selection to help them formalise their mobile strategy.

Of those companies using mobile apps for their field workforce, improved productivity and enabling the flow of real time information were cited as the two most important requirements. The majority of apps currently deployed were for simple tasks such as data entry, however a third reported more sophisticated apps that use device features such as camera and location-based services.

This indicates that organisations are at an early stage of enterprise app adoption, with more mature companies fully embracing device features, while others are simply mobilising paper processes. Few organisations are using app reporting and analytics to measure field workforce productivity gains and by association, return on mobile (ROM), with almost three quarters (73%) of the survey sample still using traditional work orders.

The findings, taken from interviews with one hundred organisations with more than one thousand employees, confirmed that perceived security, cost and management overhead are major inhibitors to developing and implementing a mobile app strategy. A third of senior IT executives cited authentication and security of corporate information flowing to and from devices as their main concerns, followed closely by the cost and complexity of developing and managing apps.

While nine out of ten of the organisations had adopted cloud-based services to support traditional business processes, there was little evidence of these enterprises using the cloud for their mobile initiatives. This may be a direct consequence of many organisations having a past history of consumer app development, said FeedHenry. Consumer facing apps generally have robust API infrastructures and require little backend integration compared to employee apps. Almost a third of the sample stated that backend integration of enterprise apps in the cloud would be the next pressing issue.

Chris Marsh, principal analyst, Yankee Group Enterprise Research, commented: 'Enterprise mobility has the power to improve employee productivity, transform business processes and drive new revenue streams. This has elevated mobility to a strategic level. However, this survey shows that many app deployments are tactical rather than strategic and that companies should look more to cloud based and agile mobile application strategies to support their growing mobile workforces, without which enterprise productivity and profitability improvements will suffer.'

Added Cathal McGloin, CEO, FeedHenry: 'There will be enormous gains for enterprises that move from tactical mobile app deployments to a more strategic approach to enterprise mobility that underpins workforce productivity and customer service. We are starting to see organisations unleash the power of multiple enterprise apps that transform their business, yet too many are still held back by concerns over cost, security and control.'


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