Enterprise mobility continues to serve as a driving force in boosting company productivity and flexibility. The ubiquity of mobile devices ensures that the business apps running on them can reach large-scale audiences and address an array of organizational needs. This driving force will only increase as wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) become more mainstream.

SEE: Mobile has officially passed desktop as the top source of web traffic worldwide

It’s a common trend now for employees to choose the business apps they feel best meet their needs, and this in turn challenges enterprises to produce mobile apps to solve these needs. With that trend in mind, Adobe conducted a recent survey to examine the state of mobile apps in the enterprise, with a focus on the opportunities for organizations seeking to leverage apps to stoke productivity and remain competitive. The survey was based on input from managers in the HR, sales, and marketing fields across five countries (the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and India).

Here are some key insights from the survey:

  1. The top three factors driving change in the enterprise mobile app space: the need for instant communication (55%), increasing mobile workforce (54%), and the need to remain competitive (47%).
  2. Increased adoption of enterprise mobile apps: More than half of companies are embracing enterprise mobile apps.
  3. The three most desirable features for enterprise mobile apps: security (48%), integration with other business systems (41%), and easy to update and publish content (36%).
  4. The three most common frustrations with mobile apps: security issues/concerns (48%), updates cause errors (44%), and lack of customization in the app (40%).

In the last year, the number of employees using enterprise mobile apps and the number of apps themselves is increasing.

Investment in enterprise mobile apps is on the rise

56% of respondents expect their enterprise mobile apps investment to increase next year and 66% have the same expectation for the next three years. In addition, it’s worth pointing out that companies are seeing a 35% ROI in their mobile app investments, on average.

Enterprise mobile apps deliver competitive advantage, but companies haven’t brought their strategies in-line to compete

Employees were asked what risks their organizations faced without the use of enterprise mobile apps. 61% of respondents believe that companies risk being at a competitive disadvantage by not embracing mobile apps due to less efficient operations, looking outdated (51%) and missing out on new clients or sales (47%).

However, when it comes to besting their competitors with an enterprise mobile app strategy, 62% feel this was a priority, but only 34% consider themselves they were ahead of the curve. The remaining two-thirds of respondents believe their department is just on-par, or behind their competitors.

Mobile apps will become even more mission critical

Messaging and collaboration systems, “customer service and support, and customer relationship management were deemed the three most critical categories for competitive advantage. All categories had a strong measure of relevance, however, with the lowest-ranked choice, employee onboarding and benefits, still picked by over a third of respondents.

Expectations for change in the enterprise mobile app industry over the next year

Survey respondents predicted that the mobile industry will increase its focus on security, cloud-driven apps and user experience in the next year.

Dave Dickson, senior product marketing manager, Adobe Experience Manager Mobile, offered these examples of powerful enterprise mobile apps:

“Companies are increasingly equipping their employees for productivity with enterprise mobile apps. For example, global science company DuPont uses apps to deliver product content to its sales force. DuPont provides a huge amount of technical content across 130 countries, and centralized apps powered by Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) Mobile have resulted in $1 million in savings. And they’re not alone in their success with apps using AEM Mobile: Hartford Funds engages its financial advisors with market-oriented app content, Stryker Orthopedics has saved $3.9 million by converting print sales enablement to apps, and Celebrity Cruises has reduced sales quote prep time by 40 percent using mobile sales tools.”

Adobe’s five steps to creating a competitive mobile apps strategy:

  1. Focus first on mission-critical apps that meet the needs of a mobile workforce.
  2. Deploy key capabilities for success.
  3. Centralize app management.
  4. Understand how your organization views enterprise mobile apps.
  5. Stay up to date with changes.

The depth and breadth of enterprise mobile apps will continue to grow as these programs evolve to meet business needs. Themes of security/privacy protection, cloud computing and a strong user experience (UI) will be prevalent. The strategies outlined herein can help establish the difference between a stagnant, backward-facing approach or a nimble, productive outlook in the mobile app realm.

Also see:
Five reasons people hate your mobile app
Report: Android and iOS apps both leak private data, but one is definitely worse for the enterprise
IBM Watson is coming to the iPhone, and that’s big news for business users
How Mendix’ Smart Apps help large companies innovate like startups
Apps vs. mobile websites: Which option offers users more privacy?