As the smartphone revolution expands into the workplace, growing demands for mobile apps that allow employees to work faster, smarter and from anywhere have created a new market for enterprise-friendly apps.
Apple’s App Store alone offers thousands of productivity and business apps, and industry analysts predict that by 2015, companies will be spending nearly $7-billion contracting out the development of mobile-business apps.
It’s a shift driven largely by the increasing sophistication of tablets and smartphones, capable of performing similar tasks as your company laptop with ease. From file sharing and mobile meetings to serious data analysis and business intelligence, employees are equipping their phones with apps that allow them to work on the go.
Basically, business is moving mobile and it’s starting to happen in a big way.
However, adopting a mobile enterprise strategy comes with challenges.
With employees extensively using their iPhone and Android devices in their personal lives, asking them to carry around another device for business is impractical. Also, organisations face ongoing security concerns with company data being stored on personal mobile devices.
Businesses question whether they can ensure a return on their investment when developing their own enterprise app, and are further faced with having to decide what functions should be incorporated into an app, how to roll it out across the business, and how to ensure security.
The shift toward business-centred mobile apps will bring solutions to many of these problems, such as the emergence of better security, including the improved ability for IT departments to conduct remote wipes and locks if devices are lost or stolen.
But the logistics of setting up an app has other challenges as well. Should apps be outsourced or created in-house? Should the company create an internal program, similar to iTunes, where apps can be downloaded? How do you ensure updates are continually pushed onto devices? And, most importantly, how do you persuade employees to use apps?
Delivering Competitive Advantage
Businesses are starting to realise that mobile devices can be used to deliver a pretty strategic competitive advantage though.
Mobile technology allows people to use company data and resources without being tied to a single location. Whether your staff are travelling to meetings, out on sales calls, working from a client’s site or from home, mobile devices can help them keep in touch, be productive, and make use of company resources.
Salespeople can access up-to-the-minute inventory data needed to make a sale. They can also instantly record transactions in the company’s system as they happen, rather than waiting until the end of the week when they could forget vital information.
Mobile IT devices can also change the way your company does business – new technologies lead to new ways of working, and new products and services that can be offered to your customers. They can make your team more efficient, more creative, and more valuable to your clients.
It’s critical that businesses start to get really serious about apps for their employees, as mobile is going to be an integral part of business moving forward and you need to figure out how to best leverage that.
Russell Berry is Director of AppCreatives, a company dedicated to enabling businesses to harness the power of smartphone apps, quickly and economically. Leveraging our industry intelligence and technological background, we design and build mobile applications that are customer-friendly and facilitate easy and quick data processing.