The ever-increasing need to be able to consume information and transact while on the move is obvious in almost every walk of life. While this has increasingly been the case for certain functions in corporations for a while, the recent push from the consumer world regarding mobile devices, consumption of content on the move, location-specific services, etc. has turbo-charged corporate interest in providing mobile applications for its workforce, customers, partners and others. The simplicity and accessibility of using an “app” for a specific purpose has great appeal to almost everyone with a mobile device of any type. That “consumer” appeal is crossing over into the business world, and not just where consumers are concerned—the appeal is there for use for employees and B2B customers as well. In this roundtable we will seek to address this mobile world, especially the trend towards corporate mobile apps, seeking to define approaches and nascent best practices. We addressed questions such as:
- What’s the strategic case to be made for developing corporate mobile apps? What are the characteristics of a need that make a mobile app the best solution?
- What audiences are corporations addressing with mobile apps? Customers? Partners? External-facing corporate functions like sales and service? Operations or logistics? Administrative functions? What are your killer apps?
- What are the best uses of apps for corporations? What especially are they for the sales/marketing/customer-facing area? How do you engage customers?
- Is a mobile apps effort complementary with, or somewhat contradictory to, the traditional approach of applications development and delivery in corporations? How do we develop and run apps in a business context with a 24x7 user base and new apps released constantly?
- Is IT the right place for the development of mobile apps to happen? Or is it more a case of IT setting up a governance structure for apps development? Should development be outsourced?
- What’s the right approach and governance framework for the development, deployment and maintenance of apps? How does this differ based on: (i) audience; (ii) “utility" app or a “product-enhancement” app; and/or (iii) tie-in to larger corporate systems for data?
- Are corporate “apps stores” the best way of distributing apps internally (i.e. employees and possibly partners)? Are standardized public markets (Apple Store, Google Marketplace, etc.) possible/advisable? If not for internal audiences, then for external such as customers?
- What are the considerations in being device-centric or applications-centric? What are the pros and cons of iOS, Android, Windows Mobile? How do you keep up with rapid developments? Will there be convergence with traditional desk/laptop-based applications? What conditions better fit development of native apps vs. web apps? Of atomic apps vs. integrated apps?
- What are the security concerns? Are they greater—or smaller because apps are more contained, and security is increasingly at the data level anyway? Do they differ by platform and/or device?
- Do you monetize apps? What are the preconditions for success and how should it be done? Can a corporate apps store become a business unto itself?
- What are the implications of mobile apps approaches for IT, talent, and change management?
Participants gather for dinner the night before the roundtable.
Hans discusses mobility and the enterprise.
Per-Åke Tobiasson, Head of Global Process Office, Tetra Pak and Martin Petry, CIO, Hilti Group.
(l to r) Christian Berger, Head of Group Org Retail & Corporates, Erste Group Bank AG; Christoph Goeth, Head of Mobile Applications, Hilti Group and Jerry-Qing Yuan Li, ABB Group - India.