Is App Development Holding Back Your Mobile Strategy?

Mobile has presented numerous opportunities and challenges for businesses. IT leaders realize the business can’t be successful unless it provides access to applications and data on the go. Mobile-enabling apps ranked as the top concern in our q2/2013 Lopez Research Enterprise Mobility Benchmark. Over two-thirds of the executives Lopez Research surveyed listed mobile application development strategies as their main issue in 2013.In July, Vanson Bourne and Mobile Helix announced the findings of a survey of CIO 300 IT decision makers in the UK and US. The survey explored the challenges and barriers to mobilizing enterprise applications. Similar to our survey, a large percentage of companies interviewed by Vanson Bourne were struggling with the same challenges.

The Vanson Bourne survey found that the vast majority of CIOs (81 percent) believe that the cost of developing or re-engineering enterprise applications for use on mobile devices is currently too high because of the highly fragmented and complex nature of the mobile market. In fact, 65 percent claimed that mobilizing enterprise applications is too complex. Over sixty percent also expressed concerns that legacy enterprise applications on mobile devices typically don’t support touch and swipe, which seriously diminishes the user experience.

These results aren’t surprising. IT leaders have at least three different development strategies for mobile-enabling applications, which include:

1. Native applications development

Each mobile operating system, such as Apple’s IOS and Google’s Android, provides a set of tools that allows IT to develop applications specifically for that platform. Applications developed with these tools provide robust application experiences but require IT to have skills in developing within each platform. It also requires IT to build and maintain separate applications for each platform.

2. Hybrid or cross-platform application development

Cross-platform tools allow IT to write the application once and deploy it across multiple mobile operating systems. The downside of using this approach is that the application may not have the same user experience as a native application.

3. HTML-5 Web development

Instead of designing for specific platforms, IT designs processes and applications that can be run in the web. The application will work on all devices but won’t necessarily have access to features within the device, such as the camera and the accelerometer.

When looking at native apps development specifically, only a third of respondents (32 percent) in the Vanson Bourne study felt they had the necessary skills to develop native apps. Almost half (47 percent) of companies that had developed a native app said they would have reservations about doing so again due to the time, cost and complexity involved.

Sadly, there’s easy way to mobile-enable apps. Businesses should consider using each of the development approaches listed above. The choice of development approach should be dictated by the requirements of the application, not by what tools are available in house.

What’s your opinion on HTML-5 apps and using secure browsers as the answer to multiplatform development?


Maribel Lopez is the CEO and mobile market strategist for Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in communications technologies with a heavy emphasis on the disruptive nature of mobile technologies. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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