This growth comes as no surprise given that the advent of flexible working, changing technologies, a strong focus on employee productivity and efficiency means more businesses are turning to build bespoke enterprise mobile apps to fuel their transformation efforts.
Key factors driving change
Some of the key factors that are driving change in the enterprise mobile app development space are:
A need for instant communication, information sharing and collaboration between employees
An increasingly large mobile workforce and the need to empower field workers with up to date and efficient mobile solutions
A strong need for processing big data and integration with AI and machine learning technologies and capabilities.
Increasing workforce productivity and efficiency and moving away from manual/ paper based processes and enabling remote working
With this growth comes its own set of challenges. Mobile app development differs quite substantially to other forms of software development and we sometimes see even the most experienced IT departments fail (sometimes quite spectacularly) when it comes to the design and development of enterprise mobile applications.
Common misconceptions with building enterprise apps
So, what are some of the most common misconceptions we see when it comes to enterprise mobile app development?
1. “Only tech savvy people will use the apps - is it really worth the time and effort?”
In any organisation, you will obviously have different levels of technical proficiency. However the mentality that “only the young ones” will use this technology is false. This is where the focus and expertise on User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design comes in. Enterprise mobile applications should be simple and intuitive for all employees to use. The idea is to simplify and streamline existing processes for your employees, not make it more difficult to the point they give up and just revert back to the old way.
Instead of focusing on implementing features that incorporate all the “bells and whistles”, start with focusing on the most important functionality and what you need to make the process/ system or service better. Focus on understanding your users and what they need to help them get their job done in a more efficient and effective way.
2. “It’s too expensive to go bespoke”
Enterprise app development cost will depend entirely on the size, scope and functionality of what you are trying to build, what users it needs to cater for and whether you want to build apps natively (eg on iOS or Android) or whether you want to go for a cross- platform approach.
Building bespoke solutions instead of buying third party “off the shelf” solutions helps to ensure that your users pain points and requirements are addressed specifically and that the app does it exactly what you need it to do.
We find many clients come to us who have been using off the shelf software solutions that are looking to move to something more bespoke. The benefits are clear- you have more control, changes can be easily implemented as the business continues to change and grow. It also integrates into your existing working processes, procedures and systems resulting in improved efficiency from the get-go.
If you compare the cost of development against the potential ROI - it really is becoming a no brainer.
3. “We can do it ourselves”
Over the years we’ve seen a lot of mobile projects fall under the ownership of an existing IT team (which can make sense). However, for this to work you need to either ensure that your team has the existing mobile engineering skills or you have to be prepared to hire for these roles- which is certainly not cheap!
If you have a team that is experienced in the UX and design of mobile applications, architecture and frameworks and also the relevant programming languages for iOS, Android and cross platform (Swift, C#, Java, Kotlin, Xamarin, ReactNative etc)- then you will be in good stead. However, more and more businesses are beginning to turn to mobile development agencies to help them bridge that gap.
Partnering with an agency can help you to define your strategy, product/ functional requirements and roadmap for development. They can provide the right expertise and software engineering approaches to ensure that your app build goes as smoothly and as effectively as possible and that you're not wasting valuable time and resources.
4. “Mobile apps are one-off projects”
Mobile apps are not projects, they are products and require the attention and development that any other products would have. If you invest significantly in building an enterprise scale mobile application, you need to ensure that you continue to monitor and upgrade after it’s been pushed live. Otherwise it can potentially wreak havoc on the companies reputation, or worse still put customer and/ or employee data at significant risk.
If you are building internally, ensure that you have the right resources to dedicate to the app maintenance and/ or upgrades and bug fixing. Alternatively, if you are working externally with a third party or mobile agency, make sure that you assess the viability of their maintenance and warranty packages to ensure that you aren’t left with a mobile app full of bugs 6-12 months down the line.
5. “Mobile apps will cause more security issues”
Some businesses are still reluctant to develop mobile enterprise apps due to the belief that mobile app security still has an array of security vulnerabilities. Mobile app architecture can often include clients apps, third party service integrations and middleware applications that can sometimes make things complex from a security perspective.
However, there have been significant technology advances in app-centric security (and blockchain) which now allow businesses to employ consistent security measures across all of their applications automatically.
6. “It will be a nightmare for integration with existing (legacy) systems”
Organisations that have invested heavily into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and other systems we sometimes see uncertainty around the ability for new apps to plus flawlessly into these systems.
The arrival of Mobile Back End As A Service (MBaaS) solutions makes it easier now more than ever for mobile apps to access legacy systems. MBaaS is essentially a pre-built cloud hosted infrastructure that enables web and mobile apps to access backend API’s, storage and carious social networks. This is saving developers over 70% of their time, giving more tie to focus on front end development and UX efforts.
Hopefully this has cleared up a few common misconceptions. At the end of the day, an ever- changing and dispersed workforce is putting more pressure on organisations to leverage mobile technology that is secure and drives workforce productivity. Our advice would be "don't struggle on your own!"