Why Enterprise Apps Fail

Many enterprises fail on their mobile app projects before a single line of code is even written.

From the perspective of enterprise, failure isn’t defined by how many downloads or how much revenue an app generates, but where it falls short operationally: over budget, over time, scope creep, etc.

Why Enterprise Apps Fail from Daniel Kosir

Mobile: Does Anything Else Matter?

In both business and consumer environments, the mobile-first mindset is the new paradigm. Yet organizational thinking doesn’t always align with this reality. One of the main reasons why the push for enterprise mobile apps fail is because stakeholders aren’t entirely convinced that mobile is an important medium to build for. Many are still tied to the ideology that desktop is king, and mobile is secondary. For many industries, this is no longer the case.

Success In Mobile Is Tough

Buy-in across the board isn’t enough to ensure success. Even if you’re ready to implement a mobile solution, mobile is a tough space. Many enterprise apps fail due to a lack of organizational and system readiness.

Internally, mobile requires a new philosophy, a new way of thinking. From a skill and strategy standpoint, it requires organizational learning, employee and managerial adoption, and in some cases a shift in your business culture.

Additionally, aside from your people and organization being ready, implementing a mobile solution requires that your systems are ready to capacitate the change. Applications need to communicate with services in order for particular features and functions to operate correctly, which means that these services must be ready in order for the app to be developed and implemented effectively.

Enterprise Mobile Challenges

Technology, business, and operational challenges are the greatest challenges faced by enterprise when implementing mobile solutions.


The most common technology challenge, as already mentioned, is the readiness of systems. It’s often difficult to integrate legacy systems and new platforms, which is a major barrier faced by many large organizations that have used particular systems for a long period of time.

Scalability is also a concern, as mobile can put a strain on systems — particularly those that require real-time information — if the user base of the app expands rapidly.

Furthermore, mobile requires cross-system integration, many of which don’t yet have the ability to communicate which each other. Without the readiness of these systems, any mobile project is likely to miss deadlines and go over budget.


If you’re trying to expose business logic through an app, then those rules need to be defined in a central location. Often, these rules exist in people’s minds, but are not formally defined and centralized. This adds time to a project because these requirements need to be gathered from disparate sources and then organized.

As discussed above, new organizational thinking is also required to ensure the success of a mobile solution. You can’t apply the same business and development rules to mobile as other platforms, nor can you assume your user interacts with your product in the same way. Consequently, you have to adapt your strategy to account for these differences.

There is also a tendency for companies to try and do everything at once, which can be a costly mistake. Like any significant business change, implementing mobile is most successful when a phased approach is taken. Focus on the key features first, then iterate to include roadmap items. This requires an evaluation of priorities, and decisions on what features are absolutely critical, versus which ones can wait until later releases. This approach allows you to go to market faster with a viable product, as opposed to delaying release waiting for each and every feature to be completed.


Operational challenges are also a major barrier to the success of enterprise mobile implementation. Internal app ownership is key; without a person or team that champions the project internally monitoring timeframe, budget, and scope, there is no sense of urgency or accountability. This results in missed deadlines and budget issues.

Similarly, if you don’t have the right team in place to execute your strategy, you are bound for failure. The right team can mean two things: internally, having the subject matter experts, support, stakeholders and developers; or externally, working with the right development partner.

Finally, adopting the appropriate development philosophy is critical. Traditional software development used the waterfall approach, but with other methodologies like agile development proving effective, it’s no longer the only option. Time and again, agile methodology has proven faster and more efficient, particularly for mobile app development. It is worth evaluating the newer development philosophies to determine what approach is right for your organization, and making sure the entire team is on the same page.

The Ingredients For Enterprise App Success

Implementing an enterprise mobile solution on time, within scope, and within budget can be achieved when the right foundation is in place. The recipe for success begins with key ingredients, including:

  • Executive Buy-In: Executives and stakeholders need to adopt the mobile mindset and be committed to the success of the project
  • Internal Champion: Internally, there needs to be a project owner to encourage accountability and keep things on track
  • Agile Philosophy: Embracing new philosophies that best lend themselves to your mobile project is critical, as is evolving business and operational thinking
  • Breaking Down Silos: Whether technical, operational, or business-related, you need to break down internal silos in order for mobile implementation to be effective. Your strategy needs to be consistent and known across teams and departments to encourage a coordinated path to market.

Tags: App Strategy

Originally published at clearbridgemobile.com on December 23, 2015.

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