The Mobile World Congress story most people will miss

A report from Ericsson shows apps are eating up most of the smartphone traffic, but where are the ones for enterprise users?

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I noticed something major is missing from Ericsson’s recent figures on global network traffic: the mobile enterprise app.

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report focuses on mobile data traffic trends in three countries: the U.S., Spain and South Korea.

According to the study, which was released to coincide with Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona this week, two-thirds of all app data traffic over mobile networks is generated by the top five apps in each country. Facebook generated the most mobile data traffic in all three countries. YouTube, Netflix and Instagram were also among the top five apps for traffic.

Notably, those are all consumer apps. Not a single enterprise app made the top five in any of the three countries.

The dominance of consumer apps is certainly no surprise to enterprise IT managers. Some have adopted them wholeheartedly, integrating Google Docs, Dropbox and the like into their operations in a bid to save time and money they’d otherwise spend on their own native app. (More on those ‘time and money’ concerns in a moment.)

Yet even CIOs who formally ban consumer apps at work still have to grapple with the issue of shadow IT. In a British Telecom survey of 1,000 global CIOs released in December, 76 per cent said they are aware of shadow IT within their organizations. The same study estimates that shadow IT now accounts for one quarter of IT spending at all organizations.

Besides competition from consumer apps, mobile enterprise apps also face hurdles from within the minds of – wait for it – IT managers themselves.

When Mobile Helix surveyed 300 American and British CIOs in 2013, 81 per cent said “the cost of developing or re-engineering enterprise applications for use on mobile devices is currently too high.” Sixty-five per cent “claimed that mobilizing enterprise applications is too complex.” Two-thirds of the CIOs felt they lacked the skills needed to develop mobile apps. Almost half (47 per cent) of those who had already developed their own native app said they “would have reservations about doing so again due to the time, cost and complexity involved.”

Yikes. Faced with all of these challenges from consumer apps, shadow IT and concerned CIOs, you’d think mobile enterprise apps would be on the brink of extinction. According to IDC, however, they’re just in the midst of an evolution.

In its 2015 forecast for worldwide mobile enterprise apps and solutions, IDC predicts that the number of enterprise apps optimized for mobility will quadruple this year. It also suggests IT organizations will dedicate at least 25 per cent of their software budgets to mobile app development, deployment and management by 2017.

Looks like the enterprise isn’t giving up on mobile apps after all.

Instead, it’s finding ways to develop them more efficiently using tools such as mobile-backend-as-a-service (MBaaS). The process facilitates mobile app development by providing back end capabilities like push notifications and data storage via the cloud. Gartner predicts that 40 per cent of all mobile app development will employ MBaaS by 2016.

And instead of throwing in the towel on mobile enterprise apps, organizations are making them more secure by adopting enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions vs. piecemeal security software. IDC’s forecast suggests over 50 per cent of large organizations will invest in EMM to secure apps and data in 2015.

But the biggest change in mobile enterprise apps might not involve how they’re developed and deployed, but why. The days of businesses going mobile simply to save time and money appear to be over.

“Competitive necessity will supersede productivity and efficiency for 50 per cent of mobile enterprise app development in 2015,” IDC states in its forecast.

So the mobile enterprise app is still here, even if it’s not the kind of thing that gets exhibited or discussed a lot at MWC 2015. It’s just being developed in a more efficient way and managed more securely for the most important reason out there: the customer.

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting, but not surprising.

    Only a small percentage of users would have to use an enterprise application and be mobile at all times. I’m thinking of warehouses, labor jobs, being on the road, etc.

    The majority of us in the enterprise world are in email for work, maybe some specialized applications, or in a website/intranet/web app of some sort.

    If there was an enterprise app I had to use, I’d probably do the work from a laptop with a larger screen at a desk, and when I was away, only glance to check in on work – not to perform the entire task.

    Facebook on the other hand, we all have that itch to check about 283967409283469872634 times per hour!

    Mat Pancha / 7 years ago