5 Enterprise Mobile Application Development Trends We Observed in 2016

It’s fair to say that nowadays smartphones and tablets are in vogue. As of 2016 there are 4.61 billion mobile users around the globe and this number is more likely to reach 5.07 billion by 2019. Gartner forecasts mobile phone sales will reach 2.1 billion units by 2019, but for many people their tablets and smartphones have already replaced “outdated” desktops or laptops. And as a result of global mobilization, enterprises are willing to stay connected with their employees, clients, and partners who use new gadgets and apps.

This way, according to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc 42% of organizations increased their spendings on mobile app development by an average of 31% in 2016. However, the average proportion of the overall application development budget designated to mobile is only 10%, which is a 2% decrease from 2015.

The main reason for this is not that consumers have lost their interest in mobile apps, but that businesses are just beginning to understand the benefits they may get using mobile technologies. “Demand for mobile apps in the enterprise is growing, but the urgency to scale up mobile app development doesn’t yet appear to be a priority for most organizations,” said Adrian Leow, principal research analyst at Gartner. “This must change, particularly given employees often have the autonomy to choose the devices, apps and even the processes to complete a task. This places an increasing amount of pressure on IT to develop a larger variety of mobile apps in shorter time frames.”

As a result of growing mobile enterprise app popularity, the demand on such applications contributed to a 3.3% year over year growth in the apps market.

Trends We’ve Observed in 2016

Custom Application Development

The survey says that the vast number of enterprises which develop mobile apps prefer custom mobile app development to customizing configurable apps or building ones from off-the-shelf templates. Gartner indicates that most development teams use custom app development for all of their apps, so extending it to mobile seems to be a natural behavior. Moreover, many off-the-shelf mobile applications still require substantial development activity to integrate the back-end databases and apps into the mobile app front ends.

“If developers have to spend 70 percent of their time getting the integration right, they shouldn’t have to make compromises on the front end by constraints inherent in prepackaged mobile apps,” said Mr. Leow. “The selection of prepackaged mobile apps is also still quite limited from many providers.”

Hybrid App Development

Hybrid apps are web apps which stay behind a native app shell. They are cross-platform and can be immediately distributed between app stores without developing two different versions for Android and iOS.

Even though app development has become much easier than it used to be, one of the essential decisions to be made is whether the enterprise app will be native, hybrid or web-based. The companies which don’t have or have failed to leverage BYOD policies will find it even more challenging. Each app type has its pros and cons which have been described in thousands of reviews. However, what we see today is a shift from native to hybrid app development which implies the use of both web and native technologies.

Growing Level of Usability

Even though business needs can be diametrically different from consumers’, it’s becoming clear that employees and customers set up the same claims to the enterprise app usability as they do to the apps they use in everyday life.

“Early business apps captured data using bland, character-based screens with rows of input fields in systems such as teller workstations in early core banking systems or in HR or retail apps,” the report’s authors write. Colors, drop-down lists, icons, and other basic features didn’t help. “Millennials [will] reject experiences that fall short of the high expectations set by consumer apps, so vendors are delivering new user experiences with rich graphical features that embed analytics, decision support, offers, and direct customer interactions.” In other words, with the basics down, there’s more focus today on business outcome. Though the authors warn: “Rich, interactive user experiences make for great demos — but they must deliver tangible business value to be truly competitive.”

Thus, enterprise applications should be developed in balance with users’ demands such as:

  1. Experience. Users should feel app’s usefulness and usability.

2. Availability.The app readiness to perform its functions if and when needed.

3. Performance.The fast speed of app performance is an essential requirement to meet.

4. Scalability.The app should handle the increasing or decreasing volumes of services, transactions, and data.

5. Adaptability. The enterprise application can be easily changed or extended.

6. Security. The mobile solution is to support the security properties of confidentiality, integrity, authentication, authorization.

7. Economy. The company should have an opportunity to minimize the cost of building, operating, and changing the app without comprising its business value.

Adaptation of the Mixed-Sourcing Approach

Various organizations across the world want to have full control over their mobile app development initiatives, however, employing solely an in-house development team is difficult as mobile is a relatively new competency to many developers. It consists of numerous complexities and specific activities which may be more efficiently handled by an experienced outsourced third party. Gartner states that organizations may improve their in-house mobile development skills in future, but nowadays only 26% of companies are adopting a purely in-house development approach, while over 55% are successfully delivering apps using outsourcing services.

Security Takes a Leading Role in Development

According to HP Security Research (2015), cyber attacks became more sophisticated than ever. 86% of web applications had issues with authentication, access control, and confidentiality, which produced a significant rise from 72% in 2014. An astonishing 97% of mobile apps were affected by these issues. Despite the risk of creating unsecured applications, most of them still contain serious vulnerabilities.

This way, due to the alarming security breaches, companies made security a top priority in their app development efforts in 2016. Without any doubt, this tendency will also be actual in 2017.

In conclusion, we’d like to notice that it isn’t so much about the technical trends the app should follow, but more about the reasons why you have chosen to develop an app and how it will be managed.

Gartner’s report reveals that by 2017, the demand for enterprise app development will grow at least by five times. However, before ordering an enterprise custom app think about the problems you’re trying to solve with this application and the workflow issues you hope to streamline. And, surely, about the end-users of this app.

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