The use of mobile apps for business continues to grow. Although their development and upgrades can be costly, mobile apps are a powerful way to conduct many business operations, including procurement and supply chain functions.
A study by AnyPresence Inc., a Reston, Va., company that specializes in mobile business processes, products, and services, finds that 31.5 percent of respondents have deployed or will deploy mobile apps for procurement, among other functions, in the next 12 months. An equal proportion will do the same with apps for supply chain partners and shipping and distribution.
The findings are timely. Yesterday, I wrote about one reseller of ERP manufacturing software that forecasts a bigger role for social media and apps in a variety of business-to-business areas. The flexibility and power they provide in monitoring, analyzing, and updating supply chain operations and related transactions will enhance productivity and, ultimately, increase revenue.
Companies that aren’t looking at mobility in procurement and supply chain should consider adding the capability. Following are some of the AnyPresence study’s findings.
A mobile app for business is, of course, radically different than one for consumers. The front-end interface must be robust, AnyPresence says, and aesthetics is not as important as practical functionality. On the back end, “controlled access to core enterprise systems must be managed,” the company says. Crucial to app development and deployment is the ability of a company’s IT department to understand and adapt to enterprise mobility strategies, while assuring that standards in security, testing, and operation are maintained.
AnyPresence finds that over the next 12 months, more companies will opt for custom development and platforms to avoid the system limitations of third-party developers. In fact, over the next 12 months custom development and platforms or frameworks will be in use by 39 percent of respondents — up from 27 percent now.
In selecting deployment options, most in the survey (52.1 percent) report they are using or will use on-premise server-side components in their data centers, although 43.8 percent also plan to use a private or dedicated cloud server, and 38.4 percent would additionally consider a public cloud. Third-party-managed or co-located servers (cited by 13.7 percent) and combinations of public and private data centers (19.2 percent) did not attract much interest.
It generally takes at least three months to develop an app, more than 50 percent of respondents say, which means ROI is a concern, especially since the average cost of development is $25,000 to $50,000 for 27 percent of participants, and $50,000 to $100,000 for another 27 percent. Some companies are making considerable investments — $100,000 to $500,000 by 24.3% of AnyPresence survey participants — while only 10.8 percent bring in a custom app for less than $25,000. The remainder are not sure or don’t know their cost.
AnyPresence encourages companies to be flexible in app development and avoid the use of proprietary systems and technologies, which can limit benefits and lock a company into a system that may be unable to meet all of its needs or grow with the business.