In the past several years, businesses and consumers alike have been promptly adopting mobile technologies and platforms. Mobile apps are now a part of everyday life for many people. Applications such as Slack, Evernote, and WhatsApp are changing how people share and store information around the world.
There are several major factors influencing enterprise mobile applications, including the advancement of 5G, blockchain technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI). As these and other technologies begin growing in popularity, they will no doubt influence enterprise mobile application development.
According to the Annual Mobile App Development Report for 2017, over 70 percent of employees spend two hours or more a week accessing company information with their mobile devices. With the number of smartphone users expected to reach 2.6 billion by the end of 2019, mobile application development is going to be a high priority for businesses around the world. Not only that, but entire IT strategies will have to change as well.
Companies are rapidly incorporating mobile applications into their larger IT strategies, allowing them to grow their mobile presence further. Big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning are all propelling this growth.
Business opportunities and considerations
With such a considerable increase in mobile computing and usage, the opportunity for enterprise mobile application development and research increases as well. The number of business sectors that can utilize mobile applications in the workplace is virtually unlimited.
According to one report, “Market trends are also driving the need for enterprise apps with companies citing the need for improved communication (55%), an increasingly mobile workforce (54%) and the increasing importance of user experience (44%) as the top trends.” Not only that but mobile applications also greatly improve business processes and worker productivity. Forbes writes, “Mobility results in (i) increased throughput (as measured by sales), (ii) less inventory, and (iii) fewer operational expenses.”
There are a variety of technologies and resources that can help enterprise mobile application development, such as IoT and AI. Companies should also consider edge networking and edge computing for their mobile applications. Edge computing enhances the user experience, speed, and content delivery by bringing computing power and capabilities closer to the source of the data. What does this mean technically? It means that devices store massive amounts of data locally and then send it to a central repository for processing. Some devices even perform data processing locally, which reduces traffic overload to the central repository.
However, numerous challenges must be considered as well. First, if a company decides to develop its own in-house application for increased productivity or enhanced business processes, from scratch, it will have to develop, create, and deploy an application that the company is able to utilize successfully. The user experience must be fine-tuned to ensure that employees are maximizing the application’s capabilities. In addition, updates must be made regularly to ensure that the app is current and that there are no bugs.
Security is another major challenge for mobile applications. Even companies that utilize third-party applications, like Slack, face serious security problems. For instance, if a computer is stolen and a Slack channel is opened, valuable company information could be stolen. They must consider security mechanisms like multi-factor authentication (MFA) to help ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical business information.
However, if a company creates their own applications, they have an entirely new set of security challenges. Vulnerabilities in application code is a common security weakness that coders must be able to spot and mitigate efficiently. Programs like the OWASP Top 10 can be a highly effective tool for spotting application risks and vulnerabilities, such as injection, broken authentication, and data exposure.
Possibly the most difficult challenge for mobile applications is lifecycle management. As explained in an Enterprise Mobility Exchange article, “Failure to consider a complete mobility lifecycle could be consequential, and it might leave an enterprise in a vulnerable position.” Whether an application is in the beginning provisioning stages or in the decommissioning process, enterprises must be able to manage the entire lifecycle of an application properly from specification and design to development, testing, migration, and deployment. Doing so will ensure that business applications are fully operational when in production and completely disposed of when they are no longer in use.
Ultimately, enterprise mobile applications will continue to rise in popularity as more and more people begin using mobile technologies. In addition, they are rapidly increasing in popularity among a variety of different business sectors. Most businesses utilize some form of mobile application for their day to day interactions or business processes. But enterprises should also consider the challenges that come with mobile applications, regardless of whether they use a third-party application or develop their own application.
Nacho De Marco, CEO of BairesDev