Forrester Research's latest enterprise mobility report is "Mobile Applications Will Empower Enterprise Business Processes" by Paul D. Hamerman. It's geared towards business process professionals, but gives a good overview of the current state of enterprise mobility and where Forrester thinks the enterprise is going.
Other Than E-Mail, Calendar and Contacts, Business Use is Spotty
According to Forrester, enterprises have been slow to adopt mobile applications other than e-mail, calendar and contacts. This is good news for RIM - BlackBerry is still great in these areas. But the fact that enterprises haven't ventured much beyond these applications may have a bit to do with the limitations of off-the-shelf solutions (see below). Since RIM continues to dominate the enterprise market, and BlackBerry OS has been notoriously difficult to program for (though that may be changing), it probably should be no surprise that the areas RIM excels at are the most commonly used.
Other mobile apps in use include: "emergency response (24%), sales force
automation (21%), customer-facing mobile applications (19%), and field service apps (18%)."
Custom Apps Dominate, But Off-The-Shelf Solutions Are Insurgent
According to Forrester's research, custom built enterprise mobile apps for specific situations are most common. But 27% have bought business apps from app stores and 24% have used apps that are extensions of other enterprise applications.
Mobile middleware platform use isn't common, only about 5% are using it, but Forrester expects its use to become more common.
Off-The-Shelf Mobile Apps Leave Something To Be Desired
According to Forrester, "The applications we reviewed generally offered limited functionality, restricted platform choice, and evolving selling and pricing models." In other words: they generally aren't very good.
Enterprise Mobile Apps Are Extremely Niche
Most applications in use are designed for task-workers with very specific features and hardware. Freight shipping and car returns, for example.
What's Driving Improvement
Here's what's driving change in enterprise mobility, according to Forrester:
- Bandwidth and browsing capabilities are limited but improving
- Pricing and delivery models must be aligned with adoption patterns
- Security and control capabilities are evolving for mobile apps, along with IT policies
- The pace of mobile innovation creates an unstable environment for standardized apps
Where NOT to Use Mobile Apps
Forrester dedicates a page to listing possible scenarios for mobile apps, but a quick look at where mobile apps won't be useful is more illuminating:
- Intensive data entry
- Data-intensive displays.
- Walk-up customer service
- Text and graphic content authoring (unless improved entry devices and software are
Where's It's All Going
This sums up Forrester's predictions: