Gartner predicts that by the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organisational capacity to deliver them.
It based this on forecasts that mobile phone sales will reach 2.1 billion units by 2019, fueling demand for apps in the enterprise that meet the high performance and usability of consumer apps.
Gartner principal research analyst Adrian Leow believes enterprises find it a challenge to quickly develop, deploy and maintain mobile apps to meet increasing demand, as it is difficult and costly to hire developers with good mobile skills.
What’s more, employees in the digital workplace use an average of three different devices in their daily routine, which will only increase as wearable devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) become mainstream.
Many of these employees are given the autonomy to choose the devices, apps and even the processes with which to complete a task, placing an increasing amount of pressure on IT to develop a larger variety of mobile apps in shorter time frames.
Despite this, Gartner found last year that the majority of organisations have developed and released fewer than ten apps, with a significant number of respondents not having released any mobile apps at all.
“This is an indication of the nascent state of mobility in most organisations, with many questioning how to start app development in terms of tools, vendors, architectures or platforms, let alone being able to scale up to releasing 100 apps or more,” said Leow.
According to Gartner, there are four best practices that organisations can consider to successfully overcome app development challenges.
First is to prioritise app development and understand the needs of business stakeholders.
Second is to adopt a “bimodal” IT approach that supports innovation and agility to deliver apps more efficiently and quickly.
This consists of one effort to create stable infrastructure and APIs to allow apps to retrieve and deliver data to back-end systems without impacting enterprise applications, and a second which uses high-productivity, agile approaches to quickly deliver front-end app features required by the business.
Next up is the use of rapid mobile app development (RMAD) tools.
Significant innovation is driving this market and replacing traditional coding approaches, such as native development tools, the study says.
And finally, adopting a mixed-sourcing approach, as maintaining a pure in-house development environment is difficult to achieve given mobile is a relatively new competency to many developers.
Gartner believes organisations will improve their in-house mobile development skills over time, but currently only 26 per cent of organisations are adopting an in-house-only development approach, while 55 per cent are successfully delivering apps using mixed sourcing.