Authored by John Sarantakes
The utility of enterprise mobile apps and field apps has reached a point where they are now necessary for many businesses. Unfortunately, demand has far outpaced the development capacity of the average organization – and the problem is only getting worse.
According to research conducted by Gartner, by 2018, commissions for enterprise mobile apps will exceed development capacity by an order of five to one. That should serve as a wake up call for any business needing to focus enterprise mobile app development soon. To avoid the impending development shortage, companies should start making plans now.
One challenge in heeding such advice is the lack of practicality to analyst recommendations. Bernard Golden (named by Wired.com as one of the 10 most influential people in cloud computing) once wrote, “Atypically for analyst forecasts, which are usually couched in obscure terminology and irrefutable vagueness, [the predictions about next-generation social, mobile, analytics and cloud technology] is vivid and stark.”
As actual practitioners, I’ve asked the experts at Headspring to share next steps as response to the “vagueness” of the original Gartner analysis.
Gartner Recommendation #1: Identify Your Mission-Critical Apps
With the availability of development resources drying up fast, businesses need to focus now. While the enterprise mobile app development process is still relatively painless, putting effort on the apps that will play the biggest role in your short- to mid-term strategic plans makes sense. That may mean de-prioritizing some (or many) of your other app development initiatives, but resources must go where they can generate the most value.
According to our head of research, Kerry Raminiak, if you are looking for advice from Gartner on how to do this, expect radio silence. She defends them by explaining that this is no reason for cynicism, “I think analyst advice on how to rationalize the IT portfolio is just more difficult to concisely articulate to a wide audience.” She continues by saying, “some IT organizations know exactly where their biggest app pains are while others have seen so much change that evaluating the portfolio on an app-by-app basis would feel like bailing water out of a boat with soda cap.” Kerry recommends that those enterprises in the latter camp conduct a formal survey of the business on the application portfolio:
There is tremendous benefit to receive from anonymous end-user feedback on which applications should be retired, upgraded, retrained and maintained. It’s also quite quick and affordable to do.
Gartner Recommendation #2: Work from Both Ends of the Spectrum
Enterprise mobile app development has traditionally followed a linear approach, working from the back-end forwards. That approach, however, is based on an aging concept of IT that often underestimates the amount of time and resources necessary for app development. Instead, IT organizations should adapt and move to rely on a bimodal approach that works to develop both the back and front ends in tandem. That way you can make the most of development resources while they’re still available.
For recommendations on how to embrace a bimodal IT infrastructure, there is good information available, however, it often contradicts. For example, in this CIO Magazine article, Bernard Golden, writes about his experience with Gartner analysts contradicting each other at the same conference.
In this case, I refer to this Forrester Research report, that goes into depth in advising the reliance of third-party service providers for Internet of Things (IoT) and smart products specifically because of the resource skills gap Gartner predicts. In short, when you inevitably outsource work, hire a vendor because of specialized need and ensure your local team is prepared for whole infrastructure maintenance and integrations.
Gartner Recommendation #3: Evaluate Your Development Team Carefully
Demand is part of what is driving the scarcity of development resources. But the growing complexity of field and enterprise mobile apps is playing a role, too. Output is dropping, in part because existing development teams don’t have all the skills and competencies necessary to develop with speed and efficiency. You don’t need Gartner to explain that you should evaluate your development team, with tact, for any potential deficiencies, and then fill those gaps by bringing in third-party expertise.
As you continue to formulate your plans, make sure your efforts align with best practices for enterprise mobile app development. In this free eBook written by Headspring experts, five best practices are identified for IT organizations to embrace when developing field (internal-facing) mobile applications.
Plan Now With Practicality
Of particular highlight in the Headspring Field Mobile App Guide is the recommendation that project teams recruit outside of IT to get use-cases and eager testers. This hits on the crucial point. When it comes to resourcing an enterprise mobile app strategy, IT leaders are going to have to get creative.
The resource shortage is real and while the analysts pat themselves on the back next year for their prognostication skills, the enterprise AppDev industry will be shuffling for resources and relevance in this hyper-competitive day in age. The good news is you have been warned. The question now is, what are you going to do now that you know?