Mobile enterprise apps – a capital problem?

According to research conducted by VDC Research (a leading independent enterprise mobility research authority), the top two technologies which are expected to have the greatest impact in driving business transformation over the next three years remain cloud computing and mobile solutions.  

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Yet, the report also states that on average, ‘organisations require more than six months to develop and deploy a single mobile application, and 48% spend more than $100K on each mobile application they develop.’

I was somewhat staggered by this statistic – although one famous CRM system had a reputation for being “two years and two million”!

When you hear a statement like that, it’s no wonder organisations would rather ‘sit still’ and stick with what they know, rather than invest in new technologies and innovation.

It’s for this very reason that technology investments, such as the development of mobile applications, are often associated with large-scale, costly projects that involve much time, resources and upheaval; often with no guarantee of the desired outcome.

The answer, in my view, is that organisations need to invest in IT as an ongoing service, opposed to a one-off software “solution” (a word I hate).

By ‘service’, I mean a full service. One where the technology provider’s team essentially becomes an extension of your own. One where they work with you every step of the way to ensure that the software or perhaps more importantly, software platform, helps you with your own, unique business needs. Why waste internal resources ? Why not let the experts help?

SAP, Sage, Office 365, SalesForce, Dynamics 365 are all available as SaaS (Software as a Service) applications that many of us use on a daily basis at work. We pay a monthly fee to use their software. Yet, if I have a problem with one of these programs, or want it changed slightly so that it better fits the needs of my business, I’m pretty stuck. Large providers are not going to adapt and change their software specifically for my business. My business has to fit around their software, rather than the other way round.

Mobile enterprise applications,  where a full-service element is offered as part of the subscription license is a fairly unique offering. They include website, mobile app, reports and alerts – if you need  changes or adjustments made to tailor the system, it can done for you, at no extra cost, and in a timely manner.

The benefits?

Control – You have  control over the tap marked ‘cost’.

No large upfront capital investment – a mobile application for your business need not cost hundreds of thousands of $/£! Enterprise applications available on a subscription basis mean that you only pay a fraction of that amount each month – allowing you to measure benefits and return on investment almost immediately.

Available to use in a days/weeks, not months/years – subscription-based mobile applications mean that you can have an enterprise-level application up-and-running within your business in a matter of days/weeks rather than a custom-built solution that takes months or even years to develop.

A service that grows with your business – Businesses are constantly changing and evolving and so do technology needs. As a result, custom-built apps and fixed SaaS models can become restrictive and less valuable for your business over time, unless you continue the process of updating the platform and adding new features – which costs more money and time. A major benefit of subscription-based mobile applications with a full service component is that they can be tweaked and refined, as part of the monthly subscription fee, to match the changes within your business.

No need to continually maintain and update the app – Updating and testing a custom app on new versions of operating systems and devices is incredibly time consuming and resource intensive. It’s essential that you have a rigorous testing process in place to mitigate against all potential bugs and faults that can occur from app upgrades and fixes. A massive benefit of opting for an existing mobile enterprise platform is the fact that this entire process is taken care of. Updates and bug fixes are all done for you – you simply upgrade to the latest release via your app store, be that iOS, Android or Windows.

In summary, big capital IT projects are old hat – custom or subscription-based apps for mobile applications are fine (i.e. SaaS models), for a while, but an ongoing enterprise mobile platform service will stay with your business as it changes and grows. Why commit to one app, when you can engage with a service provider which grows its platform and provides you with an essential business support function. ? 

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