The emergence of the mobile application market is one of the many radical changes transforming modern telecommunications and IT. Until some thought is given to it, however, it isn't quite obvious how drastic the changes are.
This week, Forrester released a report outlining some of the changes that a move to an app-based structure will bring. All of the changes, of course, are important to enterprises and the IT departments that drive them. The specific element that means the most for enterprises, as outlined in an accompanying blog post by Forrester analyst and report author John McCarthy, is that companies aren't prepared to take on the app creation challenge. Wrote McCarthy:
Firms will need help building mobile apps for employees and customers. Corporations will also need third-party services firms to manage the devices and apps as well as to set up and to administer their own private label enterprise app stores. And finally, the CIO and business executives will hire consultants to help [them] reengineer their business processes to take full advantage of the mobile and tablet apps and innovation.
That's quite a mouthful. McCarthy basically is saying that an entirely new ecosystem-and a substantial one-will be needed for enterprises to be totally up to speed. This isn't a tweak. It's a makeover.
10 Cutting-edge Mobile Application Trends for 2012
Mobile applications will increasingly define the user experience on high-end devices.
Ensuring security, creating user interfaces and doing the intensive backend system redesigns necessary to make everything work is challenging, according to ZDNet's Larry Dignan. Dignan, who posted on the Forrester report, pointed out that this work must typically be done for several operating systems-and in some cases with a clear budget mandate. This circles back to McCarthy's point that there will be a greater reliance on outside vendors.
Palringo CEO Tim Rea takes on the topic at Mobile Apps Briefing. He first makes the point that enterprises can conceptually benefit from mobile applications. The bulk of his piece, however, makes the point that companies that make consumer applications can be a great source of enterprise mobile applications, but only if they make them more reliable and otherwise enterprise-ready. Indeed, he says, many enterprise applications start as consumer apps:
So, the move to support emerging enterprise demand isn't a trivial exercise and brings with it some serious responsibilities, but established providers of consumer services have massive advantages. They have a customer base that can generate a steady flow of leads for new enterprise customers and they can demonstrate stability, reliability and scalability by pointing to an existing user base. In contrast, smaller developers that set out to deliberately target enterprise customers are likely to find it difficult to convince corporate IT departments of their operational credibility.
The bottom line, then, may be that much of the ecosystem that is necessary to support mobile enterprise apps are companies that serve consumers today.