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December 22, 2015updated 28 Mar 2017 5:39pm

2015: the year of Enterprise apps

By John Oates

2015 was the year mobile apps stopped being about Angry Birds and started being about enterprise technology.

Demand for mobility from large firms coupled with ever easier development tools like Docker made this the year that businesses truly embraced mobile software.

Follow the money

This year almost 200 billion mobile applications will be downloaded and an increasing percentage of these will be used for business. Analysts IDC expect large firms to spend a quarter of their software budgets on mobile app development over the next two years.

This is partly a reflection of the massive success of consumer applications – they couldn’t keep growing like they were. But it also shows the end of hype and beginning of businesses finding real value in going mobile.

The other reason for the success is the number of firms moving to hybrid cloud infrastructures which makes bolting on mobile services so much easier than the old days of integrating clunky legacy systems.

Add on the influence of Bring Your Own Device and there’s not much stopping increased use of enterprise mobile applications.

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Cultural change

We can also credit the success of consumer mobile apps with making the transition easier.  Although it is always a mistake to claim that ‘everyone’ understands any sort of technology the remarkable take-up of mobile applications has made a difference. Not only to people’s use of the technology but also to corporate buyers attitudes to IT deals. They’re used to simply downloading an app to solve real world problems – they expect corporate IT to provide a similar service.

There is a need for enterprises to recognise how people use consumer apps. They don’t just accept software which is clunky or difficult to use. If it is they’ll just delete it and find something else to use.

So your mobile app, whether it is being used by your own staff or by your customers, needs to be pleasant to use.

Finding people to create your mobile app, if your internal IT department can’t help, is almost as easy.

Where once the freelance world was full of website developers today’s coffee shops and rented desk offices are full of app developers. Making money from enterprise apps is also easier for small developers who don’t need to generate massive sales or downloads to get paid.

Same, same

Many observers question if talking about ‘consumer’ and ‘enterprise’ apps is even a useful way to divide up the market. Many services, like Skype, Twitter and WhatsApp, have successfully moved from consumer services to a tool for mobile business users too. At the same time some enterprise applications – like Dropbox, Microsoft Word or productivity apps – are making the move into the consumer space.

Of course a lot of enterprise applications don’t make the top download charts – nor are they meant to.

The Google Play store has a private channel which allows firms to distribute their own apps to their own staff safely and securely.

Being able to create an app for a few thousand pounds means even smaller firms can justify making a properly bespoke app for the whole company or even just a department.

We’re betting 2016 will see ever more of these applications and ever smaller gap between enterprise and consumer applications.

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