Want to build an enterprise mobile app? Don’t go at it gung-ho

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Mobile applications pretty much own the consumer space and they’re only going to keep growing. One area we tend to forget about when it comes to apps though is business. That’s a mistake. What was once regarded as little more than novelty software to many CIOs and IT decision makers has now redefined the way that modern employees operate.

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As demand for smartphone and tablet devices grows so the reluctance to be chained to a desk or restrictive infrastructure is beginning to increasingly impact staff retention and productivity.

The numbers don’t lie. According to widely regarded business publication, Forbes, enterprise tablet investment will grow by 50% within the next five years. This is expected to lead to 93.3-million mobile business devices by 2016 — up from 13.6-million in 2011.

These tectonic technological shifts are hastening the evolution of the modern worker. Connected employees wish to be, by definition, linked to the tools and collateral required for them to be productive wherever they may be. In response, many organisations have begun to invest in enterprise applications that address these needs.

Although a few have hit the mark, others are little more than early prototypes for more sophisticated versions to follow. This is due to a disconnect between IT objectives and user expectations.

Security and data management are of paramount importance to any corporate entity. Affording employees the tools to access sensitive information wherever they may be is accompanied by risk. Threats must be contained or avoided at all costs.

Often the cost is too high — sacrificing user experience for control and regulation. In these instances enterprise applications are often sidestepped or abandoned by the workforce, resulting in unrealised capital expenditure.

Corporate applications also have a tendency to lack integration between business units or content.

All too often IT departments are instructed to develop mobile software that serves a basic need but fails to provide the business with usage analytics or communicate tasks and process to related departments.

These are just a few of the maladies that plague this fledgling environment. Although experimentation and a phased approach to development are an important part of the learning process, it comes at a cost.

Businesses interested in developing proprietary mobile applications should get their ducks in a row first. By implementing a comprehensive content management framework, an analytical approach and process modeling IT can potentially avoid spending millions on unnecessary development.

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