Enterprise apps: if you want to boost productivity, talk to the workers

Companies are struggling to design software that works well in a mobile-centric world. Fixing this means going back to basics.

Inside the Enterprise: At Mobile World Congress, surveys on mobile working are almost as common as incremental upgrades to smartphones, or apps that claim they will change the world.

Sometimes, though, there is research that deserves the CIO and IT director's attention.

Much of the research around mobility and consumerisation has concentrated on devices, who owns them the bring your own device, or BYOD, trend and issues such as security and data privacy.

The trend towards greater workforce mobility, and the need to support a wider range of devices in the business far beyond simply the Windows PC is putting pressure on application development.

Less attention, though, has been paid to the impact of the consumerisation of IT on applications, and application development. This is the focus of research carried out by Vanson Bourne for Avanade, the system integrator jointly owned by Microsoft and Accenture.

The research found unsurprisingly that mobility was a "major initiative" in more than 90 per cent of businesses. IT leaders also said, in four out of five cases, that the consumerisation trend has changed users' expectations from applications. There is certainly truth in the argument that applications from the likes of Google, Facebook and Apple has changed perceptions of what business software should look like.

And the trend towards greater workforce mobility, and the need to support a wider range of devices in the business far beyond simply the Windows PC is putting pressure on application development.

This is causing enterprises to look again at how they develop apps, or at least, it should be. Avanade found that fewer than 37 per cent of companies had made mobility a "critical part" of their application development strategy; 38 per cent admitted they "lack a cohesive strategy" for developing, deploying, maintaining and securing mobile applications.

If colleagues in the business expect to use enterprise applications on mobile devices, and expect a half-way decent user experience, this is a worry.

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