We live in a mobile age, and enterprise IT leaders recognize it. But even though 64.5% of enterprises say that mobility is a top IT priority, most won’t deploy more than five mobile apps this year, according to a December study from Enterprise Mobility Forum. That’s a very small number, especially considering that large organizations manage an average of 163 apps, according to an Okta study. It begs the question: Why so few, especially given the strong demand for a mobile experience from employees, customers and partners?
There are many barriers to enterprise mobile app development and deployment, but the biggest is simply a lack of time and resources. Modern organizations rely on web apps for critical internal processes, and development teams are expected to continuously roll out new capabilities. When presented with a choice between releasing new functionality or converting old web apps to iOS or Android, enterprise developers don’t have the resources to do both. Releasing new features will almost always win out, especially since a single conversion to mobile could require months of developer-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What’s more, mobile development skills for the two biggest operating systems—iOS and Android—are already in short supply and specialized mobile security skills are even more scarce. So, even if the team is willing, it may not possess the expertise to create a secure app.
Lack of a Robust Mobile Infrastructure
Mobile apps require a robust infrastructure to support them and it differs significantly from the web app infrastructure that most organizations already operate. For example, to distribute and manage mobile apps on its own, enterprise IT has to set up a proprietary app store, and they’ll need to install enterprise device management software on all devices, including employees’ personal phones. Employees’ devices will initially warn them that the software is not trusted, requiring a number of steps to bypass, plus there are serious privacy concerns. Who would willingly give their employer access to all activity on their personal mobile device?
Finally, regarding SaaS applications, if the vendor doesn’t provide a native mobile version, obtaining the binary to convert it to mobile in-house is almost impossible. And while many SaaS applications incorporate responsive design, mobile browsers provide poor performance and lack features such as persistence and push notifications.
“Our customers have dozens of web and cloud services that they need to integrate into their enterprise mobile environment,” said Marcelo Nascimento, head of cybersecurity at TIQS Consultoria Brazil. “But the lack of mobile development resources or access to mobile binaries from app makers has halted their progress.”
Public App Stores and PWAs
Thankfully, there are solutions to each of these challenges. For instance, enterprises no longer need to manage distribution and management in-house. Increasingly, Fortune 1000 companies are using public app stores to distribute their internal employee-facing apps, according to a December study conducted by Appdome. Going this route eliminates the need to set up a proprietary app store and place management software on personal devices.
When it comes to converting web apps to mobile apps, traditional progressive web apps (PWAs) can provide a fast, cost-effective solution. But PWAs and web clips have their limitations.
Ideally, enterprises would be able to create hybrid apps, because they can provide both the benefits of the PWA for rendering web and cloud service apps along with a high-performance user experience and persistence. Platforms are available to conduct the conversion in minutes with no manual coding and some are able to incorporate strong security. As a result, an organization can rapidly convert web apps into mobile apps and distribute them via any distribution method, from private UEM and MAM stores to Google Play and the Apple App Store.
So there’s no reason enterprise IT needs to shy away from providing everyone a mobile experience. With auto-build systems to create secure hybrid apps, enterprises can overcome most of the barriers and deploy secure mobile apps at scale.