2013 will be the year when the number of new mobile apps overtakes the number of desktop titles, as businesses ramp up their plans and understand the benefits that increased mobility brings, according to a report from Appcelerator.
The company said that 72 percent of enterprises believe it is “likely” or “very likely” that mobile development will outpace web and desktop development in 2013, with 87 percent saying more mobile apps will be delivered than desktop apps during the next 12 months.
As well as finding that many enterprises are now building apps, Appcelerator identified several trends and noted that there are challenges that need to be addressed if the benefits of apps are to be fully realised by enterprises.
Building and planning apps
Just under three-quarters (73 percent) of enterprises said they had built and launched fewer than five apps, while 38.5 percent said they had built one or no apps. However, there were some early adopters, with 7.6 percent stating they had built and launched 21 apps or more.
As for plans for 2013, some 44.4 percent of enterprises said they plan to build two to five apps during the year, with 20.1 percent saying they plan to build fewer than two apps.
Almost 11 percent of respondents said they plan to build more than 20 apps over the next 12 months.
Appcelerator warned that companies who do not embrace mobile apps will be overtaken by rivals who deliver “more intimate and focused” services to customers and/or make their employees more efficient.
Mobile strategy in theory and practice
The survey found that 55 percent of companies have ranked mobility at the top or near the top of their strategic priorities – but that contrastingly, there is evidence that few are treating it as such.
Reasons cited for the importance of apps included the opportunities they provide to transform relationships, boost revenue and competitiveness, and to meet demand for better technology tools.
But despite the enthusiasm, few businesses have gone as far as establishing a group to oversee mobile projects. Even fewer are adding mobile-specific jobs to their workforce, Appcelerator noted.
In addition, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents believe they are behind or on a par with their competitors when it comes to mobile. Given the speed of mobile app growth, a strategy of “reactive prioritisation and desperate development” by enterprises will see them drop behind their competitors, Appcelerator warned.
Other challenges to a successful mobile app strategy cited by businesses included resourcing, lack of technology standardisation, integration with enterprise data, limited goals and decentralised efforts.
Choice of platform
According to the survey, iOS and Android are the most popular platforms with enterprises for developing apps.
Just over 80 percent said they are “very interested” in developing for the iPhone and 79 percent for iPad tablets.
A slightly lower proportion said the same about Android — 64.4 percent for Android phones and 52.4 percent for tablets running the Google OS.
In addition, 56.1 percent were “very interested” in HTML5-based mobile web apps.
Three quarters of enterprise respondents said they plan to build consumer-facing mobile apps across two or more platforms, with 53.8 percent saying the same for employee-facing apps.
Lack of leadership from enterprise software vendors
Another issue limiting mobile uptake in enterprises is the lack of leadership provided by traditional business software companies.
Just 28.3 percent of respondents said Microsoft is leading the way, followed by SAP (15.8 percent), Oracle (10.8 percent), IBM (7.3 percent) and HP (4.6 percent).
Just under half of respondents said HP doesn’t understand mobility, with 44 percent saying the same about Oracle.
Appcelerator said these vendors will need to move fast to catch up with customer needs and are likely to do so through acquisitions in the mobile space.
However, this piecemeal approach is unlikely to give them a comprehensive leadership position, according to the tools company. Technology vendors must articulate a strong and sustainable vision for mobility on which they execute, it said..
If vendors fail to take action they could lose out on 80 percent of application projects that enterprises will pursue in the coming years.
Appcelerator’s Mobile Enterprise Report surveyed 770 enterprise leaders including CEOs, CIOs and mobile app development managers in November 2012.