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Enterprise spend on mobile app development remains low

Spending on mobile app development by enterprises is expected to remain low, according to new analysis from Gartner, who says mobile accounts for only 10% of overall application development budgets.

According to new research from Gartner, 42% of organisations expect to increase spending on mobile app development by an average of 31% in 2016.

Despite this, the average proportion of the overall application development budget allocated to mobile is only 10%, a 2% decrease from 2015.

The Gartner survey of IT and business leaders responsible for mobile strategy and/or custom mobile app development within their organisations was conducted in September 2015 across the United States, EMEA, Latin America and Asia Pacific.

The survey focused on understanding organisations' activities in mobile app development, covering both business-to-employee (B2E) and business-to-consumer (B2C) apps.

"Demand for mobile apps in the enterprise is growing, but the urgency to scale up mobile app development doesn't yet appear to be a priority for most organisations," says Adrian Leow, principal research analyst at Gartner.

"This must change, particularly given employees often have the autonomy to choose the devices, apps and even the processes to complete a task,” he says.

“This places an increasing amount of pressure on IT to develop a larger variety of mobile apps in shorter time frames."

The survey revealed that the majority of enterprises developing mobile apps are focused on custom mobile app development, rather than customising configurable apps or building from off-the-shelf templates, says Leow.

According to Leow, Gartner believes that given most development teams use custom app development for all of their apps, extending this to mobile is a natural behaviour.

Additionally, many off-the-shelf mobile apps still require significant development activity to integrate the back-end databases and applications into the mobile app front ends.

"If developers have to spend 70% of their time getting the integration right, they shouldn't have to make compromises on the front end by constraints inherent in prepackaged mobile apps," Leow explains.

"The selection of prepackaged mobile apps is also still quite limited from many providers."

According to Gartner, the range of mobile apps in use across the enterprise varies among user groups and lines of business in terms of the apps' adherence to corporate and security policies.

"When you add in the public apps that users are adopting personally, such as Dropbox, to use for business, the management problem becomes clear," adds Leow.

"IT's ability to inventory and distribute these apps is fragmented at best, and more often it's incomplete."

Leow believes the solution to this issue of app management fragmentation and rogue apps is to pursue the development of an enterprise app store.

The survey revealed that organisations have 26 mobile apps in their own enterprise app store on average, with a third of those mobile apps being custom-built, while the remainder are prepackaged apps (such as Box, Evernote and SAP Fiori).

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