Last week’s Mobile World Congress 2014 provided ample evidence of how mobility is impacting the enterprise and why the rise of the app is increasingly driving the IT agenda. By 2016 there will be 305 billion mobile app downloads (up from 70 billion in 2013), and there will be 5 business apps per device; and by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices.
Gartner offered a higher estimate for app downloads last year, putting the total at 102 billion, up from 64 billion in 2012. Free apps accounted for the majority (91%) of these downloads, but in-app purchases (IAPs) will account for 48% of app store revenue by 2017, up from 11% in 2012.
According to the recent Good Mobility Index Report for Q4 2013, custom enterprise app development grew 55% quarter over quarter, with the greatest amount of growth seen in the business intelligence, secure browser and social business app categories. “Enterprise mobile app development is on the rise,” said Maribel Lopez, founder of Lopez Research LLC. “Almost two-thirds of the companies surveyed in the Q4 2013 Lopez Research benchmark plan to mobile-enable at least 5 or more applications in 2014.”
Apps are the new applications, said Jim Duggan, research VP of application strategy and governance for Gartner. For an application, the more things it does and the more people it does them for, the higher the value. So value for an application is tied to its capabilities, he said.
On the other hand, an app does one thing very well, and the better it does that one thing, the higher the value. And, it is tied to a purpose. “Mobile will keep pulverizing the current concept of application,” said Duggan.
This surging need for speed and agility, brought on in part by the rise of the app, is creating a hugely dangerous mismatch between their existing IT architectures and services and the business need for innovation in the modern digital economy, stated Yankee Group Principal Analyst Chris Marsh in a recent brief. “Under pressure to re-envision their processes as mobile and cloud enabled, the majority of companies are being held back by legacy services, infrastructure, protocols, standards and thinking.”
“The world of mobility is all about speed,” said Sam Ganga, EVP, Commercial Division, Digital Management, Inc., a major provider of mobile enterprise solutions and services. If a large company deploys multiple apps, such as 50 apps a year, the end user expects that there will be at least 4 or 5 updates per year, which will mean that there is 250 updates per year, he said. “It is difficult to manage all these apps and required updates.”
The difference between app vs. application is significant for enterprises, said Ryan Kalember, Chief Product Officer, WatchDox, in a recent interview with IT Trends & Analysis. His company is a provider of secure enterprise workflow solutions to protect, share and collaborate on files on any device.
“Most apps released aren’t going to make much money or much of a splash.” In the enterprise, it is primarily about developing tools to make employees’ jobs easier. “However, even the tools that are presented as enterprise… aren’t doing complicated things…,” he said.
The apps vs. applications concept is very important to enterprise IT security, especially in regards to protecting data, said Kalember. The problem is how to grant users the ability to access and work with this data, but still keep the files under control and only accessible to the right users, even post-download or on an unmanaged mobile device.
Looking ahead, he said applications had become bloated;. “Now things are kind of going in the other direction because they’re adding features to apps.”
Instead of application bloatware, users are getting “app fatigue”, he said, having to to use 5 different apps to do one thing. That’s a really complex and frustrating experience with apps that only do one thing, said Kalember, who expects apps to become more fully featured.