The mobile app market is booming and enterprises have plans to better target employees, partners and customers. The rub is that few information technology departments have the skills and resources to seriously make a mobile app run, according to Forrester Research.
In a report, Forrester documents the rise of the mobile app market. There are no big surprises, but Forrester argues that enterprises will see a range of issues as they launch mobile plans.
Among the key issues:
- The innovation cycle. Mobile apps typically require three to four releases a year. Multiply those releases by platform and you see a serious problem for enterprises, which are used to upgrades every two or three years. IT departments just aren't ready to move that quick.
- Security. Security related issues for mobile app development can drive costs up three to four times.
- User interfaces are hard. "The diversity of the platforms and the need to develop for the native device coupled with the purpose-built design of the apps will be very different from the browser-based development. This means a much greater focus on the overall user experience, not just the layout on the screen and the interactions but how you actually choose and design the narrow functions of the app," said Forrester.
- Back end systems need to deliver data more quickly. Mobile apps mean server-side issues. Mobile apps need data, say account balances and transactions, in 5 to 10 seconds. Enterprise databases may not be ready for big scale.
- Where's the budget? Support for these mobile applications is likely to be more difficult than generic email.
So what's the fix? Forrester argues that enterprises are going to look for a lot of third party help. Third party apps and middleware are likely to be purchased from companies like Box.net and Pyxix. Also look for mobile development specialists, companies that manage apps and devices and consultants like IBM and Accenture to rake in more enterprise dough.
Forrester projects that building initial apps will be a $5.6 billion a year market by 2015; managing apps and devices will check in at $3.8 billion; and reinventing business processes and back-end systems for mobile will be a $7.6 billion market.
Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and Editorial Director of TechRepublic.