Survey: IT not driving mobile development efforts

Most companies are investing in custom mobile development, according to a recent survey. But the money for mobile app projects is coming from outside IT. 

As employees and customers become more mobile, companies are turning to mobile development to create apps for engaging customers or improving the productivity of their workforce.

In fact, 68% of companies have at least one custom mobile application available, according to a recent survey from mobile application management vendor AppCentral. Nearly half have up to five custom apps, and 23% have more than six.

In addition, mobile development has reached a point at many companies that 53% of the 200 mobile users surveyed said their organizations had or were creating their own enterprise app store.

Respondents said their organization has turned to mobile development mainly to engage customers, as well as increase employee productivity. In fact, businesses are mostly split on whether they are developing mobile apps for their customers or their own employees — 40% of respondents said non-employees can access apps, 45% said apps were only for employees, and 15% didn’t know.

The most common apps being developed are field enablement tools, for example for salespeople working in the field (developed by 17% of organizations), followed by customer service apps to communicate with customers (13%). Apps are also commonly developed for collaboration and employee training.

Mobile development funded by business units

One interesting finding in AppCentral’s survey: It’s most often a company’s business units, rather than IT, that pays for mobile development. Projects were funded by business units at 36% of organizations surveyed, compared to 29% for IT. Elsewhere, the funding comes from marketing, sales and other departments.

Regardless of where the money comes from, IT should be involved in mobile development, and must be on the same page as the rest of the business. Even if the work is outsourced to a third party, IT should be involved to make sure security needs are being met and the company has enough bandwidth and other resources on the back end to support the mobile apps.

For more, read our guide to mobile development for IT managers.