Since 2002, I have been involved in mobile development, starting with WAP development and creating a product for Lotus Notes.  14 years later a Gartner Survey Reveals Enterprise Spending on Mobile App Development Remains Low, from a Gartner analysis on How Enterprises are Tackling Mobile App Development in 2016  that reveals:

Mobile Only 10% of Dev Budgets

Spending is set to go up 31% on mobile in the future, but why are enterprises not spending more?  This percentage is actually down 2% from 2015.  The questions that come to my mind are:

  1. Is it a fear of not having control of data and a lack of security?
  2. Is it that there are so many devices out there that enterprises don’t want to limit the type of devices employees can use? Do they have a BYOD strategy?

There are ways to lock down your apps and data and RedBit has developed HIPPA compliant apps.  I’m sure there are more questions, but these are ‘answerable’ and the  technology exists to help reach mobile enterprise goals. If spending is expected to rise, maybe these questions are being answered.

Demand is Up, But Not a Priority

Employees are demanding Business to Employee (B2E) mobile apps, whether that be tablet, laptop, phone – to me it’s all mobile. RedBit has written software that spans iOS, Android, Windows, Web, APIs and shared some amount of code across all those platforms.  The technology is there to help us achieve that.  Employees should be given the freedom to complete their tasks and job from any location in a secure and reliable manner. Especially with the new workforce coming in (yes, millennials and the ones after that) who grew up with technology.  They are going to expect this flexibility to get their job done using whatever device they want.

Custom Mobile Apps, Not Templates

In 2012-2013 we attempted a startup that ‘templated’ mobile apps for media companies. We did a few things wrong (which I’m not going to get into now or else I’ll never stop writing) but the biggest thing we learned is customers want a custom experience for their brand.

The Gartner survey proves this point and states that “given most development teams use custom app development for all their apps, extending this to mobile is a natural behavior” which tells me that internal enterprise dev teams are used to doing it from scratch.  My recommendation for custom app development is:

  1. Figure out an integration strategy.  Most enterprises have existing infrastructure and you don’t want to change those. This is the biggest roadblock, but it can be solved. In one project we went old school and had SAP push a file to an FTP server which then an Azure web job would monitor and update the SQL database for the mobile apps to display data. Not the most efficient process, but you need to start somewhere to effectively leverage legacy systems.
  2. Select a technology like Microsoft’s Xamarin.  Come up with a framework that can be used across various apps. Things like authentication, accessing APIs, and UI style guides can all be put inside a ‘starter kit’ so your teams can get up and running quickly and not start from scratch every time.
  3. Start small with a proof of concept.  There is so much technology out there to get you up and running fast.  The days of spending years getting something up and working are gone.  If your enterprise is spending 12 months or more planning and building apps, it’s time to re-strategize.

What’s Next?

If you are a CIO/CTO/CDO/Dev Manager there are a lot of items to figure out on mobile, but it’s time to get in.  I’ve always been a proponent of mobile and how it’s going to change the way we work and live, and it really has. Just see Mobile is Eating the World which was done in 2014 and then the 2016 version by Benedict Evans from a16z.  Does this survey indicate that enterprises are done with mobile?  I don’t think so. After 14 years working in mobile development, I’ve never been more excited with all the new technologies coming out and how quickly we can get something going.


Enterprise Mobility Canada

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello or play with the Hololens at the 5th Annual Summit on Enterprise Mobility Canada, October 4th and 5th at the Shangri-La on Toronto.  If you are looking for more information on the Digital and Mobile Enterprise, including a downloadable infographic, visit our summit site

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