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Mobile Apps: Not just for consumers anymore

28 Sep 2012

Jim Watson, Good Technology vice president and corporate general manager looks at the channel’s role in mobile apps.

With more than 500,000 apps on the Apple App Store and more than 500,000 in the Android Market, consumers have gone crazy for downloadable mobile applications. And the mobile app market is not just for fun and games.

Established enterprise players like Cisco and Citrix are quickly embracing the app model to deliver mobile versions of their products, while newcomers like and Dropbox are combining the power of cloud computing and mobility to drive rapid adoption of their business and personal productivity solutions.

Meanwhile, companies are developing apps, initially for their end customers, but increasingly for employees and business partners to access corporate applications, collaboration tools, intranets, and messaging.

The trifecta of advanced mobile devices, web-accessible enterprise and cloud applications, and rapid uptake of downloadable apps is turning virtually every smartphone and tablet into a ‘business’ device – with or without the CIO’s active involvement.

Because employees are likely to own their own smartphones and have become familiar with apps for personal reasons, they’re eager to use them for work-related tasks beyond email. The surge in corporate iPad deployments will only accelerate the ‘there’s a business app for that’ trend.

Enterprise collaboration – sharing documents, project management, instant messaging, etc – will be especially popular via apps downloaded to mobile devices.

IT challenges

IT managers know employees and partners want mobile apps that deliver access to corporate applications, and they’re actively implementing for that purpose. According to Frost & Sullivan, more than 21% of Kiwi businesses rate mobility to be either their top priority or a very important priority in 2012, and 72% of businesses already support BYOD.

This is not surprising when you consider the productivity benefits of an always-connected workforce. Companies embracing mobility are also more responsive and competitive, sharing critical information more widely and rapidly than less-connected rivals.

However, enterprise-focused mobile apps also present complex IT management challenges – from supporting and training employees on app usage, to managing a diverse array of enterprise apps and unifying them with cloud services, to securing corporate data downloaded to mobile devices via apps.

“Supporting the plethora of apps and platforms will stretch already taxed budgets”, Forrester Research’s Mobile App Internet Recasts The Software and Services Landscape report says.

“Given the rate of innovation at both the application and device/os level, each platform IT chooses to support will likely require three to four releases per year. This rate of speed will tax a whole range of IT processes from project management to release management and testing.”

Forward-thinking companies are embracing, not fighting, the trend towards mobile apps for business, and are enabling their employees to be more productive, more connected, and more collaborative.

They’re proactively defining specific BYOD policies and objectives. They’re deploying centralised mobile security and management platforms to ensure policy enforcement and control mobile access at the both the application and device level. And they’re investing in tools and technology to help deliver enterprise apps more consistently, securely and easily across multiple platforms.

By helping companies take these steps, the channel can enable businesses to reap the huge productivity and competitive advantages that mobile apps can deliver, while minimising security and compliance risks, management complexity and ongoing development and support costs.

For more on mobility and it's impact on the New Zealand reseller channel, check out the October edition of The Channel, subscribe here