Gartner predicts phone sales to reach 2.1 billion units by the end of 2019. Meaning the bigger demand for enterprise applications and higher expectations to them in terms of usability and performance. And there is no “maybe” in Gartner’s report.
Back in 2012 86% of IT decision makers told IDG Research that enterprise app projects are set to be a strategic priority for their companies. 2 years later 64% of enterprises already had a mobile app and thought about diversifying their presence on the app market.
Obviously, such high demand on mobile app development puts a big pressure on enterprise’s IT departments. Gartner sites that by the end of 2017 the demand will outpace internal app development capabilities of enterprises.
Why Do Enterprises Get into Mobile App Development?
Most of the companies see mobile apps as a transformative power that can bring innovation to their business structure. Mobile app can cut the distance between the company and its customers. Therefore, businesses expect apps to aid customer and employee relationships, strengthen their competitive ability, revenue growth and efficiency.
Problems on the Horizon
While enterprises do want to enter mobile application market, once they start actually moving in this direction, there are three questions arise.
- What is the best way to develop enterprise app? Build Internally / Purchase and Customize existing one / Outsource the development process.
- How to distribute an app? Free for clients / Advertise across potential audience / Promote as a standalone service.
- What kind of enterprise mobile application to develop?
Best Way to Develop Mobile App for Enterprise
Definitely, in comparison with SMBs, enterprises are big enough to find some resources/specialists and start building app internally. Meanwhile, the Appcelerator sites that enterprise execs see more obstacles in making apps in-house than SMB entrepreneurs.
Common obstacles to developing enterprise apps internally:
- Uncommon technologies that require hiring new specialists.
- Lack of complex strategy and knowledge in the new market niche.
- High dispersion of human resources. E.g. Enterprise-level companies usually have all IT-specialists already allocated on certain inner projects.
- Need to create new communication channels between departments. Fun thing to say but when we talk about big enterprise systems, it may be easier to communicate with its divisions from the outside rather than trying to establish new ties within a structured bureaucratic system.
In addition, enterprise apps require a decentralized system that can sustain rapid user growth. Such kind of apps also called distributed applications. Unlike internal software that is used by 1 to 10 thousand of employees, enterprise mobile apps should be able to run on 100 thousand of devices at once.
In order to maintain scalability and handle large workloads enterprises choose to store their mobile apps externally (out of core server infrastructure). Moreover, storing distributed apps in the cloud often occurs to be more cost-effective.
The second path of buying and customizing an existing app is unacceptable because of the exact same obstacles.
Outsourcing the development of enterprise app deals with many of sited problems but puts the question. How quick will you innovate with the offshore mobile development team?
Indeed, just like smaller businesses, enterprises change and evolve, therefore your outsourcing team should always be connected to them in order to preserve innovations, constantly update the platform and add new features.
Because of this reason we usually advise enterprises to hire a dedicated team. The team goes full-packed for a project with an assigned project manager, that curates the development process and always in touch with transformations your company is experiencing.
What we see now is many of our enterprise-level clients switched to “dedicated team” model. This way your company will be free of human resource management, budgeting, task managing, scheduling and still get the quality and professional touch.
How to Distribute Enterprise Mobile App
Onboarding Existing Clients / Employees
This is by far the easiest, cheapest and safest way to distribute enterprise app. The strategy allows you to control audience growth, as you can choose to onboard only a fraction of client base at once. Plus, you can take your time optimizing enterprise app and carefully listen to user’s request, without getting distracted on media buzz and advertising.
Finally, by onboarding existing clients you may protect the company from extensive critique because you’ll share your app between the loyal audience that is already working with you. This way you can test additional app feature on small groups of clients without harming the overall reputation of your company.
Partnering with your clients and even rival businesses may be a good idea. We’re currently working with a client who sold its software product to two competing companies just because they shared common problems and objectives in his specific niche.
If you have a mobile app that is beneficial for every company working in the exact same industry, this is a good sign for you to try partnering with them. For instance, pushing a new security standard through your app will be much easier if other big market players adopt it first.
Adopting Competitor’s App Ideas
A recent Zelle app release shows how corporate world can sustain an all-increasing innovation pace and use it to its advantage. Big banks have recently teamed up to take on payment system like Venmo.
Venmo and other so-called peer-to-peer payment services, like SquareCash, make direct money transfers from one bank account to another easy and free. Venmo became extremely popular exactly because of its opportunity to transfer money without any bank fee.
Though, 13 U.S. banks have created a rival payment app that allows even faster money transfers. Venmo takes a day to transfer money over, and internal corporate app Zelle is offering exactly the same functionality but with immediate transfers. Guess who will win customers’ trust.
For good or for bad, Zelle/Vanmo example shows how corporate world can copy innovations and thrive on the already prepared market, rather than gathering audience from scratch.
Extra Services that can be provided through Enterprise Mobile Apps
Knowledge Sharing Apps
If you’re a service provider with a strong proficiency in finance, law, marketing or logistics, sharing a bit of your internal knowledge may get you additional customers. Especially if you share it in the most engaging way – through the mobile app, supplemented with interactive chart and hints.
That’s how an international law firm called Bird & Bird get over 10,000 app downloads. The company made an app for in-house counsel use, so they could compare marketing regulations across 20 different countries, where Bird & Bird operate.
In addition to the first app, Bird & Bird made another mobile compliance tool. It provides businesses with the essential information they would need in the event of a raid by antitrust authorities. The app contains information on customer’s obligations and rights, as well as a detailed list of guidelines on how to make business cooperate on a full scale with minimum intrusion.
Such kind of app may be handy if you have a complex registration process or you got too many catches, unobvious requirements, and nuances. Making a clear compliance app would be a perfect idea for providers with complex services. E.g. financial advisors, peer-to-peer lending companies, payday loan companies, legal advisors, etc.
Internal Reporting App
Having a strong analytics and data processing software doesn’t necessary means you can make better-informed decisions. Sometimes a good visualization of data worth more than a thousand words.
That’s why the largest pay-TV broadcaster in the UK and Ireland, Sky, made its own reporting mobile app. By its mean employees could measure results of hundred broadcasting campaigns in near real-life time.
The exact same reporting app can be used for marketing purposes in order to present company’s achievements in an appealing and straightforward way.
Waiting List App
A typical enterprise consists of several divisions and business inside of it. Such company has multiple products with dedicated client manager responsible for each of them. Under such condition, it may be hard for a client to find a proper manager specifically skilled to help with his problem.
Waiting list app may help your clients connect with the best manager possible. Such app can match a client with specialist inside your company based on his/her proficiency and client’s inquiry.
By far the most basic mobile app idea that still has a big potential inside. Chubb Group, one of the leading property ensuring companies in the U.S., created a supporting mobile app for its agents. The app was made in form of ‘e-brochure’ the allows managers to access all policy and product information from their mobile device.
The same kind of training app can be turned into an educational tool for employees of your business partner. This way you can sell a product of any complexity and ensure that it will be successfully integrated into client’s business.
There are no doubts whether enterprises need a mobile app. The only question left is what kind of app do you need. We should acknowledge that examples listed above are only a tip of an iceberg, the specifics lies inside you business and can’t be decrypted without your help.
Don’t know what mobile app to develop?
Tony Sol is the business development manager of GBKSOFT, overseeing the production of all writings for both internal blog and external platforms. He is technical-driven person always looking for new benefits of merging business and software.
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