Cost and security top causes of enterprise mobility delays

News 31 Jul, 2013

New survey finds CIOs appreciate need to mobilise enterprise apps, but are being held back.

CIOs believe making enterprise apps useable on mobile devices could greatly benefit their organisations, but are being held back by concerns over security and costs, according to a survey by security firm Mobile Helix.

Eighty seven per cent of the 300 IT decision makers from the US and UK surveyed said employees want more access to enterprise data and applications on their mobile devices.

Additionally, respondents felt this would contribute a 36 per cent increase in productivity across the business, provided key enterprise applications were mobilised.

On average companies had over 400 custom and packaged applications within their organisation and while the majority (91 per cent) said they had either taken steps to develop applications for mobile use or were planning to do so in the near future, only 22 per cent of enterprise applications can be accessed from mobile devices.

When asked what the main reasons were for the hold-up in developing a mobile-accessible app, 65 per cent of CIOs said it was down to development costs, 63 per cent cited security concerns and 48 per cent were worried about the increased cost of support and maintenance.

Matt Bancroft, co-founder and COO of Mobile Helix, told IT Pro Mobile Helix undertook the survey to get a better understanding of the challenges enterprises are facing.

“The findings are reasonably in line with what we thought they would be,” said Bancroft.

“The only ‘surprise’ was with regard to demand for mobility from employees; we expected it to be strong, but it was even greater than we had anticipated,” he added.

Bancroft said he was not at all surprised that cost was a major factor when CIOs were asked why they were not making their apps mobile ready.

“The problem is IT departments are being asked to do more with less, due to budgets either not growing or in some cases shrinking while demands from the business rise,” he said.

“This means they can’t hire new people, such as mobile app developers, so while they recognise this demand for mobility, they struggle to meet it,” he added.

Indeed this problem was reflected in the figures: only 32 per cent of respondents felt they had the necessary skills to develop mobile native apps, and 47 per cent of companies that had done so said they would be disinclined to do it again, due to the time, cost and complexity involved.

However, Bancroft suggested companies may be approaching this problem in the wrong way.

Results from the survey show 53 per cent of enterprise applications are now browser-based anyway. Therefore companies should instead focus on making these apps accessible to mobile workers by using technologies such as HTML5, rather than worrying about expensively re-inventing what they already have, Bancroft suggested.

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This highlights the importance of mobility for businesses in areas such as productivity, but shows the valid concerns they have about security, costs and lack of skills in developing and supporting their own mobile apps. Our customers have similar challenges in developing and deploying mobile apps, however we’ve found best practice in the app development process is to provide a mobile app factory, whereby customers have a small, agile on-shore team that that can handle a pipeline of mobile app requests, together with a more flexible off-shore team who can handle the development and support. This can be a low cost option that is more efficient, especially if there is a steady flow of apps which allows for large cost savings and also results in significant amount of re-use of code. The main way that a business can get value from a mobile app is to ensure it works across different platforms, which is a big area of our work at the moment.
Steve Butcher, Avanade UK