A Microsoft-funded study conducted by Forrester Research found that the adoption of a multi-browser strategy increases the internal development costs borne by businesses to the tune of an additional $4,200 annually for each Web app.
The conclusions drawn were based on a survey of 133 IT professionals from enterprise businesses, and are notable considering how large businesses could easily have upwards of dozens of Web apps.
Ultimately, the survey is pertinent to small and mid-sized businesses, given how SMBs are also relying on Web-based applications more than ever. Moreover, smaller IT teams and a tighter budget means that this cost burden is felt even more acutely by smaller businesses.
According to the report, 96 percent of the businesses surveyed standardize on a single browser for work PCs, with only 4 percent saying they have not standardized on a single browser for company-issued PCs. Half of those (51 percent) who responded say they enforce the standard of a single Internet browser by standard techniques such as the removal of admin rights and locking down of PCs.
Overall, most businesses do allow employees to use nonstandard browsers, though, with the reason being attributed to concerns related to development, support and staffing. However, policies differ on the level of support offered to nonstandard browsers. Here, a third of those polled allow employees to install an alternative browser, which will be supported on a “best-effort” basis. Another 13 percent noted that employees are free to install an alternative browser, but with no support given.
Not surprisingly, the study recommended that businesses embrace open Web standards such as HTML5, CSS3 and SVG in order to drive greater Web app compatibility. For businesses that opt to embrace a multi-browser strategy, the study also recommends that IT managers involve Web app developers to better address long-term support and security challenges.
Personally, I would urge Web developers to not use features that are unique to a browser, but adhere only to open standards when designing Web apps. Obviously, SMBs also have the onus to eliminate the use of obsolete — and highly vulnerable — Web browsers such as Internet Explorer 6.
You can download the free report titled “The Business Case for Standardizing on a Single Modern Browser in the Enterprise” here.
I’ve been using Google Chrome for over two years now — you can read about my transition from Mozilla Firefox to Google Chrome here. Which browser do you use?