Mobile enterprise apps drive mobile working into a new era

Richard Absalom, Analyst, Consumer Impact Technology

Mobile enterprise apps is a hot topic and an area receiving a growing level of investment, according to our research into mobile consumerization, “bring your own device” (BYOD), and enterprise mobility management (EMM). Mobile application management (MAM) is a nascent part of the still-immature overall EMM market, but it is an exciting space that we expect will see huge growth, especially if the growth in mobile device management (MDM) services is anything to go by.

Ovum’s recently published report, The Case for Mobile Enterprise Applications, outlines how deploying mobile apps can make a real difference to the enterprise, transforming business processes and enabling workers to be more mobile and efficient than ever. It also examines the impact of mobile apps on the overall EMM market, demonstrating the scale of the opportunity that lies ahead for vendors in the space.

Mobile enterprise apps key to unlocking business value from mobile consumerization and BYOX

When it comes to providing value to a business and reaping the benefits of mobile consumerization and BYOX trends, it is enterprise apps that will make the difference. Apps can provide workers with access to more than just email on their smartphones and tablets, allowing them to perform specific line-of-business tasks while on the go and on whichever device they have to hand.

This is a key point: we are already seeing evidence of employees using multiple device types to get the job done, whether it is a corporate or BYOD device – we call this behavior enterprise multi-screening. Employees are also engaging in “bring your own app (BYOA) activity – finding and using their own cloud productivity applications such as file sync & share and enterprise social networking. Providing users with the right applications, across the right range of devices, will enable enterprises to manage this behavior, help them to secure corporate data, and allow them to take advantage of this behavior to drive mobile productivity.

This is still a nascent market, however, and while there is a lot of interest in enterprise apps, the organizations that have actually deployed them are the thin end of the wedge. There will be a lot more to come as these pioneers demonstrate the benefits of enterprise mobile app deployment.

Businesses face a challenge in making the right apps available to the right people

Mobilizing the core enterprise application stack is easier said than done, of course. Simply porting existing PC applications on to the smaller screen of a smartphone or tablet does not provide the user experience (UX) that employees have come to expect from consumer apps, unless it makes use of the touch, movement, and gesture interfaces of smart mobile devices – not to mention factoring in the reduced amount of screen real estate. This is where newly designed mobile apps have the advantage. These apps also often have collaborative and social capabilities built in, which is not the case with older enterprise applications.

Given the high costs of developing native apps across multiple OSs (iOS, Android, Windows 8, BlackBerry), many businesses are already turning to Web or hybrid development to ensure that both existing and specially developed enterprise applications are available to as many users and on as many different devices as possible. The growing demand to develop and manage these applications is creating an opportunity for platforms and vendors in the EMM space, and they are seizing upon it quickly.

The MAM vendor landscape is fragmented and has low barriers to entry

MAM vendors are in prime position to capitalize on the forthcoming deluge of mobile enterprise apps, because they provide the corporate app stores and app management capabilities that enable businesses to make the most of the new features of the consumer devices hitting their networks. MAM has the potential to be more attractive to end users than MDM, especially in a BYOD environment. MAM is less intrusive than an MDM solution, managing data at the application level and more easily distinguishing between work and personal activity, whereas an MDM solution is capable of monitoring all activity on a device.

MAM specialists such as App47, Apperian, and MobileOps are not the only ones to have spotted this opportunity. Leaders in the wider EMM and MDM space, including AirWatch, Citrix, Good Technology, Fiberlink, and MobileIron, are adding app management capabilities to their portfolios. The EMM market is already a highly competitive space for all vendors involved, and providing MAM is now a minimum entry requirement.

However, some of the major software and service vendors are yet to make a big move into the MAM space, so there are still relatively low barriers to entry for smaller start-ups. As a result, there is still room for smaller specialists to take a market-leading position and carve a firm niche for themselves, but they will have to move quickly.

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