Fifty Percent of CIOs Think Mobile App Development Takes Too Long

Eric Carlson | November 21, 2014 | Mobile Strategy

Kinvey, a Backend as a Service (BaaS) provider, led a “State of Enterprise Mobility Survey” that included “100 CIOS and 100 Mobile Leaders in North America who work at companies with more than 500 employees”. While there are many Mobile State of the Union presentations available, very few do a proper job of looking at the successes and challenges within Enterprise mobile solutions specifically. I thought this would be a good opportunity to build off of the backs of this work to provide some commentary and differences to what we’re seeing in the market.

CIOs have high hopes for mobile
97 percent of CIOs have high hopes for what mobile can do for their business. 76 percent of CIOs are looking to mobile to reduce costs and increase employee productivity, 64 percent are looking to mobile to create new revenue opportunities, and 12 percent are looking to use mobile to disrupt the marketplace.

No question here. When we started Propelics 4 years ago, consumer smartphone & tablet usage was still in its infancy. Many of the CIOs we were speaking with were skeptical on the long-term viability of these platforms and what opportunities and controls would be available. There was a significant amount of hesitation on betting on a platform or even agreeing on security standards. From our perspective, 2010-2012 were the years of planning, 2013 and 2014 have been the years of action.

Bizgoals
The interesting portion of what we’re seeing today is that, as this study states, the CIO and IT organizations see the possibilities inherit within mobility – whether affecting productivity, cost savings, revenue growth or other core business drivers – but the business teams have been unable to come back with formal, defined strategies in how they’re going to get there. When we perform our Mobile App Roadmap workshops, we’ll typically work with a business group and define a few hundred great mobile app use cases (note, not apps). The challenge isn’t in the ideas – it’s how to you prioritize and align these ideas into a roadmap that builds the overall capability of the end user. Cherry picking ideas will lead you into their next point:

App development is decentralized and fragmented
71 percent of app development is currently being led by product lines or functions (e.g., marketing, sales, etc.) rather than centralized via enterprise IT. In organizations that say they have no formal mobile strategy, 61 percent of CIOs cite that each mobile project is run separately.

Without this governance and structure, many organizations will use outside consultants or internal business resources to build quick applications to solve small challenges. These may be form-based, quick approval, data access or other applications that provide convenience for the end-user. This strategy works, frankly, for some organizations to get moving within mobility. It can create additional demand and create the need for a formal roadmap as discussed above.

Obviously, this will need to be reigned in. Our largest area of project growth in 2014 was assisting in the creation of a Mobile Center of Excellence for our clients. Our approach has been to allow business teams to innovate and create apps – based on a defined set of platforms and governance set by the IT group. Working with IT teams across the continent to define standards for data security, device ownership, business and technical policy, end-user mobile support, device, development platforms (MADP) and web services architecture and use. These standards and governance ensure that whoever is building applications for your end users, they’re following an approach that won’t create additional nightmares in the future.

Mobile and the proliferation of mobile apps in the hands of your employees is just beginning – set the standards now before someone else does it for you.

„Mobile app development is costly, slow, and frustrating
56 percent of mobile leaders surveyed say it takes from 7 months to over 1 year to build one app and 18 percent say they spend from $500,000 to over $1,000,000 per app. 50 percent of CIOs think the process takes too long; 24 percent cite it as a source of frustration.

We’ve spoken a lot about typical app development costs for Enterprise mobile apps here on Propelics. However, one thing I will state around these results is that a typical Enterprise development approach that’s used elsewhere within the organization will deliver overly expensive apps that typically miss the benefit target. There is no “Gold Standard” for what functionality and UX will work for the use case you’re defining – and going into a 6 month or 1 year long mobile project in a typical waterfall methodology will -not- produce what your users want. Why? This is such a new experience, most users just don’t know how to translate “what they do” into mobile. It’s a new paradigm and interaction that creates questions that you cannot answer until the user is testing or piloting the application. What interaction is needed? Do we need all of these data elements and functionality to complete this job? Are we building an app that handles all scenarios or just the most common for this process? How can we use the contextual intelligence from the phone to build something smarter?

Costsandtime
Spending $300k and waiting 8 months is not the solution to these problems. Build your apps in 8-10 weeks. Build them for <$200k. Then iterate based on use, feedback and measured benefits. Could you spend $1m and a year on a single application idea? Of course, but that's far better achieved through 5 App releases than one. In almost every one of our applications that we've built for our clients, the final result is tuned through use & measurement.One final point, from Gartner's 2014 Magic Quadrant: Mobile Application Development Platforms:

Gartner estimates that most enterprises will have between ”1,750 and 3,500 mobile apps to develop and manage.”

I sure hope not. This shouldn’t be an objective or a goal for any organization, regardless of size. It’s the exact opposite to our approach to mobile maturity and growth.

The opportunity with mobile isn’t just about taking everything we do today and shoving it into a smartphone or tablet. It’s about taking this opportunity to simplify core processes and use this technology to build elegant, intuitive, informative and predictive ways to complete the tasks at hand. After the overwhelming chorus of “Mobile is huge!” subsides, the winners will be the ones who sang “Mobile is smart!”

Eric Carlson

Eric is a seasoned leader with a keen eye for emerging technologies. He is well respected in both technical and business circles, due to his ability to match up the right amount of technology "geekiness" with business understanding to craft truly unique solutions. As a seasoned executive, with startups through successful exits to his name, Eric has the experience to advise companies on the discipline and objective approaches that are needed to turn ideas into reality. Eric can be reached at eric.carlson@propelics.com or on twitter at @ericjohncarlson.

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