5 myths of enterprise app development in a mobile-first world

Twelve months ago, FeedHenry commissioned Vanson Bourne to interview a hundred UK organisations with more than one thousand employees, in order to gain a snapshot of their mobile app strategies.

Despite having a clear understanding of the benefits of mobile-first, the majority of the organisations that spoke to Vanson Bourne still had an ad-hoc approach to app development and were only beginning to consider platform selection to help them to formalise their mobile strategy.

Just 7% had implemented a mobile app strategy and few organisations were using app reporting and analytics to measure productivity gains, and by association, return on mobility (ROM).

Understandably, a third of senior IT executives cited authentication and security of corporate information flowing to and from mobile device as their main concerns.

The same proportion cited the cost and complexity of developing and managing apps as a barrier and stated that backend integration of enterprise apps in the cloud would be the next pressing issue.

FeedHenry wanted to see how enterprise app strategies have developed in the intervening twelve months so we analysed customer data and industry RFPs from organisations with more than 1,000 employees.

As a result, we have identified five persistent myths surrounding the building of enterprise mobile apps for today’s mobile-first cloud-first world:

Myth 1: Enterprise apps take at least six months to develop and deploy

Industry received wisdom dictates that apps, especially those designed for enterprise, can take at least half a year to build and launch.

With some organisations requiring anywhere from 10-100 apps to serve different business units, the time required to build apps can appear prohibitive.

However, the right mobile platform can halve app development time to just 60-90 days. The key is to reuse application code and backend services where possible in order to speed integration

Myth 2: Data is king, but it’s too complicated for apps to access legacy systems

Enterprise organisations that have already made large investments in legacy systems such as ERP and are hesitant to develop mobile apps that cannot seamlessly plug into these existing mission-critical technologies.

On average, a suite of enterprise apps connects to between two and six backend systems and APIs, including Sharepoint, Oracle, MySQL and SAP. Because two in three of these backend systems do not have accessible APIs, this can slow down the development process or make mobile apps unusable.

Using an enterprise-grade mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) with an API infrastructure solves this issue by enabling legacy systems to be easily accessed by mobile devices.

Myth 3: Mobile app developers must keep up with a myriad of coding languages and frameworks – it’s impossible

Learning new development languages in order to build individual apps for each device platform can be tedious, and for some enterprises entails constantly hiring fresh developers with different skill sets.

According to Forrester, when creating hybrid cross-platform apps, developers often employ as many as 10 different coding languages for enterprise app development projects.

>See also: Days before Apple’s iPhone 6 launch: The top 5 developer concerns

Common coding languages required include HTML5, JavaScript, Objective C, C#, Sencha Touch and Node.js. and these don’t even include languages proprietary to traditional MEAP platforms.

To simplify development, developers can use mobile app platforms using a ‘bring your own toolkit’ approach that allows them to use the languages and toolkits they are most comfortable with.

Myth 4: Enterprise apps are always data-heavy, placing high loads on handsets and backend systems

The best mobile app platforms take large amounts of data from the backend and transmit a small filtered set of data to the handset: reducing overall demands. For each enterprise app session, the size of data transferred for each app should be less than 1MB.

Myth 5: Having a Chief of Mobility is the best way to handle company-wide app development

This myth assumes that one central figure will successfully oversee app development and deployment across the enterprise. In reality, the average enterprise mobile app development project requires at least 20 personnel, including business heads, developers, project managers, IT and employees.

By collaborating and using the same technology standards and requirements, a Mobile Centre of Excellence or Mobile Steering Committee can guide mobile projects across multiple business units without creating new silos.

The Vanson Bourne survey found that, while nine out of ten of the organisations had adopted cloud-based services to support traditional business processes, a much lower proportion were using the cloud for their mobile initiatives.

When IT giants like Microsoft start talking about mobile-first and cloud-first, it’s time to dispel the myths and knock down the barriers to taking advantage of those changes. Enterprises need to be aware that today’s technology allows for the swift creation of apps without vendor lock-in.

They should take advantage of the new technologies at their disposal. Agile, open, collaborative and powerful cloud-based mobile application platforms now render obsolete long-held notions around lengthy and complex app development and deployment.

In the words of Chris Marsh, principal analyst at Yankee Group Enterprise Research: “Enterprise mobility has the power to improve employee productivity, transform business processes and drive new revenue streams.

“This has elevated mobility to a strategic level. Companies should look more to cloud based and agile mobile application strategies to support their growing mobile workforces, without which enterprise productivity and profitability improvements will suffer.”


Cathal McGloin, CEO, FeedHenry

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...