Guest author Chris O’Connor is chief executive of mobile solutions provider Taptera.
The booming mobile applications market is a hot topic right now at many a water cooler in Silicon Valley and beyond. I've toiled in the mobile market since 2007 and in those years I've witnessed more than my fair share of changes - some entirely predictable - others not so much. Relying on the wisdom that comes with a decade-plus in the business, I'd like to offer a few educated guesses as to what's next in enterprise mobile apps.
A Mobile Crystal Ball
Here are seven predictions for the mobile apps market in the coming year:
1. Mobile Tools For Salespeople. Mobile devices are the business tool of choice for most salespeople. As a result, there will be even more new apps that cater to these often-mobile employees. Look for apps that allow salespeople to more effectively pitch prospective clients, make presentations to existing ones and update opportunities, all while they’re away from the office.
2. Enterprise Platform Vendors Continue To Stumble. Enterprise software giants SAP and Oracle stumbled in 2012 with application-development platforms that were intimidating and offered limited cross-platform support. Expect the next few months to be no different: customers will continue to avoid single-vendor solutions in favor of a more open approach. In mobile, that means apps able to connect into heterogeneous environments will be clear winners.
3. iOS And Android Dominate. Last year marked the advent of BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone, two new competitors in the mobile operating system market. But both BlackBerry 10 and Microsoft’s Windows Phone may be too late to pose legitimate threats to Google and Apple's mobile operating systems. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are far more mature and entrenched platforms that offer developers a flexible framework. And they have proven security measures. They are simply too good for developers and users to ignore.
4. New Leaders For Mobile Projects. Sales-and-marketing department heads and business unit managers are mobile’s advocates within the enterprise. Increasingly, they hold the purse strings for new mobile initiatives. If and when these new initiatives spread across the enterprises, budgetary control may return to the information technology department. At least for now, any new mobile apps should be designed for the non-techie audience.
5. Security Remains A Bottleneck. Allowing employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) is a trend that will continue to gain strength in 2013. But security continues to be a serious concern. App makers that offer compelling security features in their products will find a receptive audience among enterprises transitioning to BYOD.
6. Employee Expectations For IT Service Continue To Rise. Employees want the gear they use at work to be as powerful and easy to use as the stuff they have at home. Enterprises that don’t offer employees decent tools they will be at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring and retaining talent.
7. Mobile Security Vendors Will Overlap. Selecting a mobile device management (MDM) system was often the first step businesses took toward implementing a mobile strategy. MDM is becoming a commodity as app developers and platform providers incorporate it into their menu of services.
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