Bye Bye 2015: Did Enterprise App-eal work?

By : |December 15, 2015 0
Image courtesy of radnatt at freedigitalphotos
Let’s see what is still keeping people excited about enterprises smothering their employees with good apps. Has to be more than the BYOA nightmare

Pratima H

INDIA: Drink when you feel like eating!

Any good diet expert worth his/her salt (avoid too much of that too, as s/he would hastily instruct) would bark similar orders before jumping into a long-winded explanation.

The quick answer, minus all the cerebral anatomy, is this – the parts responsible for hunger and thirst are tucked so close inside our brain that often one is misinterpreted for another.

Enterprises would understand that confusion well, or may be too well. For when BYOD, consumerisation, the endless flood of new form factors, and a new tweezer-brow generation started giving them headaches, some of them inferred this to be a bell for ringing in all or any consumer app (s) out there.

Accommodating what digital natives are using ‘out’ there, seemed enough to mollycoddle them ‘in’ here.
Some allowed a new chat widget on office phone, others gave a cosmetic touch-up to their email and made it resemble a la Wazzup. A few others tinkered with their long-seated Enterprise processes and tried to toss up the best of IT bricolage.

Look-alikes could only last so long. The world soon realized that they were snacking on the wrong thing when the need was for something more fluid.

Enter 2015, the pituitary signals

When IDC pointed that come 2016, the number of enterprise apps, the ones optimized for mobility, will quadruple, it was a sign of the way enterprise apps, in their quintessential form, had started taking their due place.  As per IDC again, IT organizations could dedicate at least 25 per cent of their software budget to mobile application development, deployment, and management by 2017.

Don’t be surprised to see 100 per cent of the line of business (LOB) apps in customer-facing roles and 75 per cent of LOB apps in internally-facing roles to be built for mobile-first consumption by 2017.

In its ‘Predictions from the new Mobile Enterprise Applications’, the research major even puts forth a possibility that by the time 2017 rolls up, market demand for mobile app development services would rise five times faster than internal IT organizations’ capacity to deliver them.

Gartner joins the euphoria over apps here when it predicts mobile phone sales to reach 2.1 billion units by 2019, hence propelling demand for apps in the enterprise that meet the high performance and usability of consumer apps.

What has ironically, added lubricant to the new flame of growth here is a list of gaps that consumer apps continue to harbor and hence jeopardize enterprises using them, or tolerating them.

Corporate users understanding the perils of using consumer apps for business use has led to a big change. “This understanding has been widespread and the problem of blindly using consumer apps is getting a new space.” Ram Menon, Founder and CEO, Avaamo Software divulges.

That’s a sentiment that other industry players resonate too. “This year saw the rise of many messaging apps for enterprise segment. But all these apps limit group size and get cluttered in large groups, as they are great for consumers, but not for businesses. Ours, for instance, is the first messaging app and platform that solves the clutter and group-size problem substantially improving enterprise communications with smart-messages.” Beerud Sheth, Co -Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Teamchat (Part of Webaroo Inc.) asserts.

Shifts in perceptions, brave confrontation of actual needs and efforts in demanding a really-enterprise-genre solution have helped the trajectory of enterprise apps this year.

While enterprise apps augment worker and overall corporate productivity, they happen to equip field workers, with their smart devices in better ways. Add to that the plausible realm of enterprise big data and analytics generating smarter apps than ever before and the development footprint available; and it appears to be a segment bolstered both by demand and supply forces.

Menon cites situations where pure-bred enterprise apps find a ready ground. Indian market is unique, since many employees in the workplace- Insurance salesman, Spare parts supervisor, tractor sales man- all of these folks have only ONE primary device- smartphone, he stresses.

“This has changed the perception of enterprises who understand the only way to reach them is through their device. Email is not the answer- messaging serves as the most ubiquitous most well understood method for real time communications and coupled with the current fear of consumer networks – a private messaging network which is highly secure – offers the best alternative. The most heavily used app continues to be the messaging app but enterprises are starting to do CRM, ERP, HR, Finance, Approvals, Training and more right inside their messaging app.”

Government agencies, non-profit orgs, political parties will soon start to manage their business through messaging apps, opines Sheth.

“ Messaging is becoming the ubiquitous platform that enables virtually every mobile activity, leaving email, software tools around collaboration and conferencing solutions far behind. And with the increase in the messaging volume, these apps will need to solve much deeper issues than plain text messaging.” He explains digging experience from adoption of his app by enterprises like HDFC Bank, Fitcircle, AAP (Aam Aadmi Party), Biostadt, V-express logistics etc in India.

App-lause prevails

Avaamo presents the case of a leading micro finance organization adopting this technology to work with field forces in Orissa and Andra Pradesh- who will be out in smaller villages and towns, verifying and creating micro loans to basket weavers, and other smaller business.

As Menon dissects further, messaging will play a key role in loan verification, collections disbursement and this is amazing a further ratification of how messaging technology is satisfying the three goals: (1) mobile enabling the desk-less employee (2) furthering the goal in India of banking to the unbanked (3) and satisfying the mission of the new government to digitize India all the way to the out reaches of the India business eco-system.

Mobile will empower the desk-less employee: MenonImage courtesy of arztsamui at freedigitalphotos

Mobile will empower the desk-less employee: Menon

He confidently flags off this as a proof that private secure messaging- is an effective tool and not just for the iPhone wielding / Macbook laptop knowledge worker as he emphatically reminds, but for also for the newly enabled employee with a smartphone who is out in the furtherest villages and towns of India.

For Sheth, a good example of enterprise app gaining roots in India would be that of a large bank that is using Teamchat to manage its sales team. “They capture sales updates and meeting reports through Teamchat, automatically generating a real-time leaderboard that is sent back to the entire sales team, driving competition and recognition of outperformers.” He informs.

Another company in the BFSI sector is rolling it out to its retail organization, he adds before he also mentions use by startups building their businesses on top of the app. “Instead of building new apps, they’re customizing Teamchat to automate their messaging-heavy workflows.” Sheth beams.

“Also, Indian market is definitely the hub for developers and enterprises that are building their services on top of the Teamchat platform, leading to much more adoption.”

Now that begs an important question.

What about Hype-othalamus?

There was a Gartner survey on mobile app development in 2014 which peeled that the majority of organizations have developed and released fewer than 10 apps, and a significant number of respondents had not released any mobile apps at all.

As wearable devices and IoT fever gain more employee traction, the pressure on IT to develop a larger variety of mobile apps in shorter time frames only worsens.

It is not exactly a ‘flick of a switch’ decision for enterprises. When they indeed toughen up to make room for more apps under their hoods, they still face troubles around tools, architecture, balancing slick UI with functional UI, developer skill deficit and lot more.

Development muscle is a must for enterprise appsImage courtesy of Iamnee at freedigitalphotos

Development muscle is a must for enterprise apps

This is not a skateboarding track of development. Unlike consumer apps, enterprise apps have to dovetail use for multiple devices, like barcodes, RFID readers, signature sensors, NFC ports etc to fulfill their essential purpose.

Architectures, frameworks, processes, code generation and orchestration, cognizance for object-relational mapping, offline data support, right programming skills amplify the issues that CIO face when souping up inward-looking apps.

IDC has already mulled that difficulties linking mobile platforms to existing databases will cause 45 per cent of mobile enterprise app initiatives to be delayed or go over budget in 2015.

So yes, 2015 may have sorted the hunger for ‘any app as long as it is an app’ well for enterprises. What 2016 has to show now whether this thirst will be quenched adequately ahead and that too, without any stones.

The Crow looks forward.

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