Enterprise Apps Are Less Glitter but More Gold for Developers
With Mobile disrupting everyday life, it's not surprising many software developers and teams looking for the next big wave are focusing on mobile app development.
But mobile is a vast field and today's mobile app developers face a fundamental dilemma: should we focus on the next wave of business-to-consumer (B2C) apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Tinder, etc., or enterprise mobile apps, i.e. field force, CRM, ERP-type apps that enable massive productivity improvements for mobile workers?
It's a tough decision to make. We can expect the B2C market to continue to grow and produce zero-to-billion(s) dollar hits like WhatsApp, Tinder and Snapchat. That said, it's hard to predict what the next wave in this market will bring.
The enterprise market, on the other hand, has been disrupted by the rapid adoption of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Mobile workforces now rely heavily on mobile applications to conduct business. We're seeing companies reallocate large portions of IT budgets to develop apps that cater to their businesses' needs, spurring a wave of demand for enterprise developers.
Follow the money. A 2014 Gartner survey found a majority of the CIOs ranked mobile as a top three spending priority for 2014. Similarly, VisionMobile, a UK based mobile analyst, expects the mobile enterprise app market will reach $58 Billion by 2016.
The growing adoption of BYOD and mobile device management (MDM) are steady trends in this space. Enterprises are looking for the next generation of apps that will drive revenues, customer engagement and employee productivity.
Enterprise provides more opportunities. Most enterprises today have between 10 and 15 mission-critical applications. The rule of thumb is that every enterprise application (e.g., CRM, ERP, etc.) will spawn six-to-eight purpose-built mobile apps. Add this to the pile of consumer and B2B facing apps, and soon these numbers start to add up.
Urban Outfitters is an excellent example of this trend. As a brand with a number of consumer-facing apps, the company has recently started to invest heavily in the creation of enterprise apps that enable store employees to serve customers more efficiently and effectively.
Related: 4 Devices for Your Mobile Workforce
Mobile presents an entirely new set of challenges. Enterprise teams must understand nuances across the Apple or Android ecosystems and become well versed in all things mobile, including devices, operating systems, carriers and API architecture, while honing their skills in the ligua franca of today's apps, Objective C, Java etc.
Given the rate of change in mobile, current IT and developer teams have a unique opportunity to repurpose domain expertise across exciting new areas. According to LangPop.com, a reputable programming language site, Objective C ranks 9th among the most commonly used/searched languages -- well behind C, .NET, Java, etc. – making it even easier for developers with strong mobile backgrounds to excel in solving enterprise use cases.
Enterprise has more room to differentiate. To succeed in mobile, you need to think well beyond simple app development and consider how to test and monitor the app, the metrics to measure and optimize and how to ensure optimum experience and performance that engages users.
Mobile opens a Pandora's box of management challenges not easily solved with traditional IT solutions, creating a wealth of opportunities for developers who understand mobile and the app life cycle.
Enterprise is less of a crap shoot. There are about two million B2C apps in today's app stores. However, most are free. By 2016, Gartner predicts that 94.5 percent of all mobile apps downloaded will be free. Of the paid applications, about 90 percent are downloaded fewer than 500 times per day and earn less than $1,250 a day. It may be easy to develop and release a B2C app, making money is not.
Striking it rich with the next Snapchat is appealing but, let's face it, highly unlikely given the competitive and volatile nature of the B2C app market. The facts are clear. Enterprise mobility is creating endless opportunities for developers to maintain sustainable growth. Enterprise apps may not seem as inspiring to the developers on the surface but there's a lot more than meets the eye.
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