Enterprise Apps Evolution
The Middle East enterprise apps market is on the ascendance. As more enterprises adopt cloud services for vital workloads and applications, the vendor community is coming to their aid with apps to suit their evolving business needs, but is this segment profitable for channel partners?
These days, end-users expect business applications to match the consumer app experience: accessible, intuitive and fast. Now at last, there is a growing realisation across the Middle East that with the advent of cloud services, the enterprise app is often the best way to simplify complex business processes and make employees’ lives easier – and more productive.
This will mean rich pickings for software developers, ISVs, SIs and solution providers. If they can tap into a virtually limitless appetite for apps designed to address specific business challenges, saving businesses from having to invest in traditional in-house development skills, they stand to make substantial gains from the regional market.
Jonas Zelba, senior research analyst Information and Communication Technologies Practice at Frost & Sullivan said there are three key trends shaping market progression: increased corporate enthusiasm for the hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, which cuts out the overheads associated with in-house development; enthusiasm for native rather than generic applications; and the drive to make mobility attractive to SMBs, who have been surprisingly resistant compared with large enterprises.
“When talking about mobile enterprise applications, it differs from country to country,” said Zelba. “But in general, Middle East companies remain behind the global adoption curve, with less than 30% of Middle East decision makers having mobile workforce management already deployed within their companies—and another 20% planning to do so within one to three years.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the enterprise application software market was dominated by ERP solutions in 2014. ERP contributed the maximum revenues and had a market share of 60.4% in 2014. The CRM solution segment was second in terms of contribution and accounted for 14% of the total Middle East enterprise application software market. The total ME enterprise application software market was worth $8.69bn in 2014 and is expected to grow at CAGR 11.5% until 2020.
Whether businesses opt for a mobilised app strategy or take the alternative option, virtualisation, as a means of making applications seamlessly available from any device, they need the apps themselves to meet an increasingly exacting range of usability and security expectations.
“Native mobile email clients and web browsers, file sharing services, like Dropbox, and mobile calendaring apps all serve important user needs, but they also invite security breaches and complicate life for IT,” said Matteo Masserini, regional sales manager, Mobility, MEA, Citrix. “[But] often, they also lack key enterprise features necessary for full productivity. Whether through in-house development or a third-party vendor, IT needs to provide sanctioned, enterprise-ready alternatives to consumer-grade mobile apps.
“To succeed, these apps have to pass the toughest test of all: user acceptance. One way to do this is to provide business-oriented features beyond the scope of a consumer app or service, such as the ability to add an attachment to a meeting invitation or join a meeting right from the calendar request. Equally important, though, the app has to offer the consumer-like experiences people are familiar with, and not require them to adapt to a different look-and-feel from the iOS or Android apps they’ve been using.”
This poses some significant challenges for channel players seeking to provide consumer-grade mobile apps for the enterprise.
“Any enterprise apps portfolio/solution needs to offer the flexibility and capability to integrate with different platforms, including a mix of on-premises, cloud, and hybrid cloud operations,” said Masserini. “Applications have become essential within the business world because they help users become more efficient at work by providing easy access to their data wherever they are – so showing direct relevance to different lines of business is key, as well as simplicity and ease of use.”
Add to that performance and security, and it soon becomes clear that developers and systems integrators need to be able to call upon a range of skills beyond programming in order to deliver the necessary levels of sophistication – not least the ability to steer customers down the migration route from traditional business applications to fully mobilised, contemporary apps.