Mobile Enterprise Apps Are the Real Thing

Mar 30, 2015

We’ve been amused by the headlines popping up lately breathlessly proclaiming that mobile enterprise apps are suddenly on everyone’s radar. Frost has been conducting an annual survey of mobile and wireless decision-makers for the past 6 years now that has shown strong, steady interest in deploying mobile software applications to their workers. This is not a new phenomenon. So why the suddenly raised profile?

There are probably two factors at work.

But first, a quick review of our survey findings around mobile enterprise app implementation: Our 2014 research showed that 82 percent of companies use at least one mobile employee-facing application solution. Seventeen percent self-identify as heavy users, with 20 or more software applications already in place for their workers to use on their mobile handhelds (smartphone, tablets, ruggedized devices, even basic feature phones). Clearly, mobile worker apps have penetrated the majority of today’s businesses.

When asked about future plans, a solid growth trajectory emerges. 79 percent of businesses plan to add one or more new mobile worker solutions within 12 months. This pattern of adoption is consistent with our survey results from 2013 and 2012. We expect the same dynamic to emerge in our 2015 survey results.

So, yes, the interest in mobile enterprise apps is real, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

But why is this suddenly news?

One reason may just be dogged persistence on the part of one very big channel that has targeted the SMB (small and mid-sized business) segment. Tier 1 wireless carriers in the U.S. and Canada have been marketing mobile worker apps to SMBs for a number of years now. They view these solutions as ways to increase ARPU and reduce customer churn. Recognizing that many small businesses have neither the time nor the expertise to evaluate their mobile alternatives, the carrier acts as a helpful middleman, vetting and identifying the prepackaged software solutions that would work best for this customer set. Some, like AT&T, are extremely proactive and strategic about their mobile enterprise app portfolio. They even work directly with the individual application vendors to fine tune their apps so they meet high carrier standards. There are advertising campaigns, free trials, and bundled offerings to attract customer attention. Their solutions are cloud-based, so they’re priced on a subscription basis, bringing in steady revenue and offering an abundance of opportunities to upgrade and expand.

The other reason for business apps’ higher profile is the decision by big corporate software suite vendors to take mobility seriously. Oracle, SAP, and other business software entities finally decided they better mobilize their desktop products, instead of leaving the larger enterprise customers to create their own solutions in-house. After encountering some false starts and dead ends, these vendors are now integrating mobility into almost every aspect of their previously desktop-only solutions. They are also moving to the cloud. And their ability to commit substantial resources to this effort has injected a strong and welcome level of new technological advancement, including predictive analytics, 3-D visualization, gamification, and artificial intelligence.

Simply put, major information and communications players are now very much in the mobile enterprise apps game.

Jeanine Sterling


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