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Mobile Apps Go Mainstream in the Workplace

Results of a recent Frost & Sullivan survey show that interest in mobile software applications for employees remains strong.

My colleague Jeanine Sterling recently completed a survey of 300 North American decision makers who are responsible for purchasing mobile software applications for their businesses. The results show that interest in mobile software applications for employees remains strong. In 2013, 73% of respondent companies reported deploying at least one mobile worker app. In 2014, this figure has risen to 82% of respondents. The largest proportion of businesses (49 percent) has implemented between one and 10 apps, and 79% plan to deploy additional mobile worker apps during the next year.

The study focuses on four mobile enterprise app categories: mobile salesforce automation (SFA), mobile workforce management (WFM), wireless email, and mobile asset tracking (M2M). These can be more expensive and require complex design and deployment efforts; nevertheless, the percentage of businesses reporting their implementation has increased significantly since 2013, and a large percentage plan to expand their use.

North American businesses cite a range of reasons for implementing mobile worker apps. Top drivers focus on anticipated improvements in employee productivity and business process efficiencies, but most businesses also point to enhanced customer engagement, increased employee collaboration, cost savings, new revenue opportunities, and competitive advantage.

Roughly nine out of 10 users are very or somewhat satisfied with the four mobile enterprise applications spotlighted in this study. Satisfaction levels have increased dramatically after previously showing a descending trend.

Data security continues to be the strongest barrier to adoption, and cost concerns remain a factor. In addition, businesses have become more worried about back-office integration requirements, a lack of internal resources and expertise, and the absence of a trusted mobility partner.

The preference for native apps has jumped dramatically in 2014 (77 percent), compared to 2013 (44 percent), perhaps reflecting a collective negative experience with the alternative. In addition, many businesses (81 percent) prefer to purchase mobile enterprise apps that are pre-built or prepackaged to some degree, rather than create an application from scratch. When customizing or creating mobile apps, companies prefer to do so in-house rather than depend on an outside third party.

Smartphones remain the most popular device for the specific mobile worker app categories studied in depth in this survey, but tablets appeal to a steadily growing portion of the market.

Wireless carriers and major corporate software vendors continue to be the preferred mobility partners across all companies. For larger businesses, there is little difference in preference between the two partner types. Small and mid-size businesses, however, still greatly favor wireless carriers. Twenty-three percent of SMBs prefer not to partner at all on mobile app selection, purchase, and implementation, compared with only one percent of larger companies.

When selecting a mobile business apps partner, respondents give strong consideration to a variety of criteria. SMBs are most interested in cost, product quality, and professional services, while larger enterprises give priority to the number of supported operating systems and experience with app customization and integration.

Clients can see the results of the entire survey at

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