How to Get Started With Mobile Enterprise Apps

While there’s no question that mobile apps are already changing the way that some enterprises are doing business, many companies are just starting to explore how they can take advantage of mobile in their businesses.

There’s a lot of talk about mobile road maps these days. Coordinated strategic mobile planning is crucial for any enterprise looking to implement significant mobile initiatives. But the reality is that many enterprise mobile road maps will be obsolete before they’re implemented. Mobile is changing rapidly, and companies that are waiting to perfect their mobile strategy may be missing out on an opportunity to solve key business challenges in the meantime.

The clients we’ve talked to across the 500+ projects we’ve completed are largely telling us the same thing, “the best way to get started with mobile is to just get started.”

AT&T recently presented research that broke out four stages of mobile app development in Enterprises:

Informal: These are typically projects championed by a team with internal resources and solve a very specific, limited problem without involving any bigger picture strategy or coordination with that department.

Silos: In this stage, different areas or divisions of a company have their own mobile initiatives that may cross paths with mobile projects from other divisions, but there is no coordination between divisions.

Coordinated: In stage three, companies have adopted formal standards for enterprise mobile development, but have not put a top-down strategy in place that divisions work towards.

Integrated: At stage four, companies have formal mobile road maps and strategies, and all mobile projects are coordinated centrally to ensure that they are in sync with the larger goals of the organization.

AT&T’s research shows that most organizations are in stage 2, and have not developed coordinated efforts among divisions or the company as a whole.

We’re seeing a similar distribution across the stages, and our take away is that if you’re at a large company, and planning to get into mobile by building your entire mobile road map first, you’re likely to be passed by the majority of enterprises that are dipping a toe in the water and learning as they go.

Many clients we’re seeing successfully implement mobile are picking a project where they have a real pain point that mobile can solve without having to get other departments or divisions involved. For some clients we’ve worked with, that’s a mobile sales enablement app that replaces three-ring binders with tablets. For another it was replacing pen, paper, and clipboards used for campus recruiting with an iPad application that can collect and process applications that would have taken weeks in just minutes.

We believe that building your mobile strategy is important, but with the rapid change in mobile, and low visibility from companies like Apple as to what’s coming next, mobile road maps may not turn out to be any more reliable than Apple Maps. In the meantime, we recommend using initial projects to gather valuable information on how mobile might work for your company through direct experience, and using that information to refine your mobile road map as you go.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Mark Chatow is Executive Director, Global Marketing at Sourcebits. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markchatow