Making the most of Mobile

Demand from end users and increasing requirements for an always-on workforce are driving a boom in mobile applications for business – but how can organisations best connect staff and develop the apps they need to improve their efficiency?

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Making the most of Mobile Businesses are increasingly deploying their own mobile applications.
By  Keri Allan Published  January 13, 2015

As the uptake of mobile applications for business grows, most organisations are putting mobile strategies in place. This evolution is giving them the chance to look into additional revenue channels and improve staff productivity, and such opportunities mean mobile applications simply cannot be ignored.

“Mobility is more than a trend, it is a transformation technology,” comments Paul Black, Director of Telecoms and Media, IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa. “What’s important is to look at your organisation holistically and decide on a mobile strategy that will benefit and realistically help the business.”

Organisations have several options when it comes to getting the expertise necessary to make their applications mobile; they can acquire new talent, up skill existing staff, choose out of the box solutions or outsource. Often they use a combination of all the above.

There are some issues however, for example there appears to be a shortage of development staff for mobile, which has caused some problems. In addition, outsourcing is a common route taken, but one that raises quandaries of its own.

“Few organisations have a clear understanding of the best way to mobilise key functions, requiring outsourcers to be able to help drive the approach up to and including business strategy. Many companies are uncomfortable with this and few outsourcers have the capability,” explains Richard Marshall, a Gartner Research Director.

“Not least of the concerns is that lack of clarity on what the project involves means a lack of firm budgets for approval. Even once a project has been approved, the inherently agile nature of mobile development can pose problems: agility fundamentally changes the relationship between supplier and client, pushing to a significantly more co-operative partnership. This too is a challenge for organisations used to conventional waterfall approaches.”

Clearly there are myriad options, each with their own pros and cons, but as Black touched on earlier, it’s really the strategy that is key.

“To be honest this is different for each and every organisation. Really fortune favours the brave (and clever) here,” says Simon Poulton, Application Delivery and Mobility Business Lead — EMEA Emerging Markets, CA Technologies.

“You’ve got everything from simple out-of-the box options and using sites that allow anyone to create a mobile app without real expertise in apps to a completely sophisticated, home-grown, home-built approach and enterprise apps which could touch every back end business system in the organisation and is totally bespoke.

“However, maybe the more important question is not how to acquire the approach and or skills, but more about how the strategy itself will differentiate the organisation as a business. If you’re just doing what everyone else does, there is no differentiated business model and no competitive advantage. The organisations that are really succeeding at creating ground breaking apps and mobility approaches in general are thinking carefully about how to engage customers, employees and partners via mobile apps or devices. Once they’ve determined that strategy, they then look at the best way to acquire it.”

With line of business now driving IT requirements, developing the strategy and analysing customer requirements allows businesses to work out what mobile applications will help them achieve growth and become more competitive.

“The new reality of how our society engages via mobility has changed many industries’ business models already, so pretty much everything is up for grabs here. There are certainly industries that are going to face more pressure than others,” Poulton says. “In the Middle East, banking, insurance, retail, logistics and transport may have faced a certain amount of early pressure, but the pressure will undoubtedly spread.”

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