Enterprise software is fundamentally about streamlining internal processes, and more companies are realizing the value of mobile apps in achieving this goal. The result is the widespread adoption of mobile-based enterprise solutions.
Mobile usage takes a significant part in the broader trend towards enterprise mobility. Unique capabilities of mobile apps – location features, messaging, notifications – mean that enterprises can use them to improve efficiency in a myriad of ways. It is also inseparable from other important shifts like cloud-computing, the use of big data and the growth of remote workforces.
This post looks at some of the key ways of how mobile enterprise app adoption is shaping the corporate landscape. The term “enterprise app” is used to mean employee-facing apps (that may or may not have a customer-facing component) that are intended to improve internal processes.
Security remains the most important concern for enterprises
Already this year, there has been a number of widespread and debilitating cyber-attacks on large entities. But it’s not just threats from hackers that enterprises have to mitigate. The growing emphasis legislators are placing on the protection of privacy and personal data means that a stringent and robust security system is a must. Importantly, this system needs to be flexible enough to deal with the rapid changes that can take place within enterprise mobility.
The response to these changes is twofold. On the one hand, developers pay far more attention to building effective security systems in the development process. On the other hand, dedicated third-party companies are responsible for bringing agile, integratable security products to market. These can work in conjunction with native security features, especially in regards to encryption, authentication and data storage. The likelihood is that ensuring security in the future will demand a mixture of both in-house and external expertise.
SaaS is continuing to grow
It is increasingly common for SaaS companies to provide apps alongside their desktop software. There are two reasons for this. First, app-specific solutions often make good additions to existing systems. An example of this is retail POS, where salespeople are able to make sales via their smartphone or tablet on the shop floor. Secondly, in many cases smartphones can completely replace legacy hardware. Barcode scanning and payment processing, for example, no longer require dedicated equipment.
One of the notable trends resulting from the emergence of SaaS is the fragmentation of software and the decline of comprehensive legacy packages. This is in part due to consistent integration features that are now built into online enterprise solutions as a matter of course. But another reason is that micro-SaaS companies, dedicated to solving one specific problem, are able to provide much higher performing, feature-rich solutions instead of one all-encompassing legacy system to handle everything from accounts to employee timekeeping.
“Smart offices” and automation are fuelling demand
At their heart, smart offices are about using technology to improve productivity. The “smart factory,” where the production line is based on automation, digital input and output, and machine collaboration, is a closely related phenomenon. Mobile enterprise apps are vital in both contexts, because they enable a high degree of worker autonomy and can be used to deal with specific issues away from a desktop. For example, in case an engineer needs to address problems with machines on the factory floor.
Commenting in Business News Daily, Adam C. Uzialko writes, “The idea behind the responsive workplace is to unify operations under one system and empower that system with machine-learning capabilities. By doing so, businesses can get more out of their employees while keeping them happier, as well as analyze a vast amount of data to make more informed business decisions.”
It would be remiss to overlook artificial intelligence at this point too. A recent report by Cowen and Company shows that 81% of IT leaders are planning to invest in artificial intelligence. The scope of AI solutions to be implemented via mobile is huge, with everything from virtual assistants to speech recognition and translation services.
As you can see from the graph above, AI adoption is still in its infancy. The market, however, is set to explode in the coming years. There are still issues to overcome, such as the blurred distinction between AI and machine learning, but there will definitely be important ramifications for mobile apps.
Similarly enterprise mobility is fuelling new working habits. As it becomes the norm for employees to spend significant periods of time out of office, or even work remotely full-time, mobile enterprise apps are an important way of maintaining workplace cohesion.
Enterprises are realizing the power of big data
In most cases, the key indicator of success with new technology is performance. The reason why mobile enterprise apps are becoming more popular is because they increase productivity in tangible and measurable ways. One direct way to achieve this is by giving companies access to data about employee activities. This data can then be used to pinpoint process inefficiencies and iron-out any major issues.
The use of new powerful innovations like in-memory processing and platforms like Hadoop have empowered enterprises to manage and use data in new ways. This is particularly notable when combined with mobility, where it’s possible to track employee performance outside of desktop software use.
Accessible frameworks are making internal development easier and more inexpensive
While there is a variety of third-party apps available for solving problems that are relatively consistent across enterprises (accounting, for example), research has shown that companies are seeing the benefits of in-house developed apps aimed at small groups. This is likely because individual departments have specific KPIs that are best met through tailored solutions.
Hybrid app frameworks like Ionic and Kendo mean that developers can quickly and inexpensively put together an app to improve a specific process. An app can even be made for a one-off event. Because employee-facing enterprise apps have a smaller emphasis on aesthetics, a lot of the development steps can be eschewed. Important features like responsiveness and integration APIs are inherent in the frameworks, further saving developers’ time.
Boundaries between mobile and desktop apps are blurring. The Universal Windows Platform, for example, allows developers to write one program that will run on all Windows 10 devices. As portable technology like tablets and mobile phones becomes more advanced, this distinction will continue to fade out.
It’s important that businesses of all types adapt to these changes. Many development agencies now offer comprehensive enterprise app solutions catering to a range of needs, which can be combined with in-house and SaaS products, allowing businesses to take a multifaceted, integrated approach.