Accustomed to having “an app for that” in their personal lives, business managers want to harness the benefits of mobility to increase employees productivity and improve customer satisfaction. Employees also drive demand for mobile apps that help them work more efficiently, improve data accuracy and increase safety. This presents a golden opportunity for companies to take the first steps on their journey to becoming ‘mobile-first’.

To find out how mobile-ready businesses really are, FeedHenry recently commissioned a survey among IT decision makers at the UK’s largest organisations, undertaken by research firm, Vanson Bourne. While they agreed that mobile apps have the power to transform their businesses, the survey found that the majority of the organisations are still deploying simple mobile apps, on a reactive basis, rather than as part of a mobile strategy.

Healthy Mobile Appetite

Senior IT decision makers interviewed revealed that the large majority of organisations (87%) have deployed workforce apps and that demand is accelerating, with plans to increase the number next year. Almost half recognise (44%) 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. 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.

Still On The First Course?

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 finding indicates that organisations are at an early stage of mobile 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 productivity gains and by association, return on mobile (ROM), with almost three quarters (73%) of the survey sample still using traditional work orders.

Barriers To Mobility

When asked about inhibitors to mobile app development and deployment, a third of senior IT executives cited authentication and securing corporate information flowing to and from devices as their main concerns, followed closely by the cost and complexity of developing and managing more sophisticated mobile 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 same organisations using the cloud for their mobile initiatives. This may be a consequence of being accustomed to consumer app development. Consumer apps generally have robust API infrastructures and require little backend integration compared to employee apps. Almost a third of the survey sample stated that backend integration of enterprise apps in the cloud would be the next pressing issue.

There is a huge opportunity for IT professionals to lead their organisations into the mobile-first era by becoming enablers rather than traditional gatekeepers of mobility. The new generation of mobile application platforms, enabled by the cloud, provide everything IT needs to help drive this.

Marrying Cloud And Mobility

Using cloud-based mobile application platforms, line of business managers have the freedom to decide what apps they need, whether native, hybrid, or web apps and can outsource front-end development if necessary. The IT department then ensures that the connectivity of these apps to backend systems is at all times secure and that the apps are distributed, authorised and managed for the appropriate users.

IT professionals can also manage the deployment of app code to the cloud infrastructure of their choice. This frees app developers allowing them to focus on creating engaging front-end experiences that drive user engagement.

Using cloud technology, the mobile application platform acts as the middleware between backend systems and the device. The cloud stores, caches, syncs and manages the data that comes from backend and third-party systems. This makes it fast and easy for organisations to push out large volumes of apps across their organisation, while IT maintains control over backend systems and the delivery of sensitive corporate data to and from mobile devices.

The marriage of cloud and mobility is empowering innovative businesses to provide apps that support mobile workers and meet customer demand, increasing productivity, visibility and engagement. There will be enormous gains for companies that move from tactical mobile app deployments to a more strategic “mobile-first” approach that underpins workforce productivity and customer service”.