UK and US businesses are planning to spend an average of £285k on mobile software tools for their employees in the next 12-18 months, but much of that spend will be wasted, according to a second wave of research. 

The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne, polled 1,000 IT and business decision makers on their mobile activities and plans, and found that only 25 per cent of those interviewed acknowledged that their mobile initiatives had been embraced by the majority of their employees and colleagues.

Similarly, 41 per cent of those who commissioned mobile projects said that take up had been limited to only a quarter or less than a quarter of the employees they were originally intended to serve. The revelations will be particularly worrying for businesses with more than 500 employees, as the research found that companies of this size are planning to invest an average of £390k on employee mobile projects in the next 12-18 months.

I believe that many companies have failed to engage their employees with mobile projects by failing to think through the situations in which their mobile assets will be used, specifically by poorly designing applications with flawed business logic and usability.

More businesses than ever are now building mobile apps to help employees work more effectively, but it’s clear that a good deal of time and money is going to waste through poor design. Companies need to pay more attention to the end user and how and when they are going to use the app.

Apps which don’t have offline functionality, a poor user interface, or fail to integrate fully with the capabilities of the user device are likely to be left ‘on the shelf’. Businesses need to prototype their apps and test them in the wild if they want to ensure that they’ll be used and have a positive impact on employees once rolled out”.

The research also reveals the factors which influence IT and business decision-makers when it comes to choosing an external vendor for a mobile solution. Interestingly 29 per cent of respondents say that their first consideration when choosing a vendor is the vendor’s ability to integrate with back-end/legacy systems, versus ‘price point’, which was the foremost consideration for only 1 in 5 of those polled.

Crucially, only 11 per cent of decision-makers say that they pick the vendors they want to work with based on whether or not their technology is ‘future-proof’, suggesting that a high proportion of the mobile assets businesses develop have a short shelf-life. Businesses are now giving mobile the attention it deserves, and that’s reflected in the fact that 42 per cent of them are currently working on a mobile app for their employees.

However, it’s not clear that they’re thinking about the development and implementation of their apps, websites and other mobile assets as strategically as they could be; if they were, they would place more emphasis on deploying solutions with relative longevity to protect these investments, and on ensuring they reach the maximum number of devices and users in an optimal manner. The businesses that will get the most out of mobile won’t be the ones who spend the most, but those who invest effectively.