App Development – IT’s New Marching Orders

You might say it is moving like a freight train through companies large and small. In fact if you are not considering mobile applications as part of either your business operations thinking or your marketing and customer support efforts your organization may well get run over by the companies jumping on that train.

Information Week’s 2013 Mobile Application Development Survey contains a significant amount of data that shows that more and more IT departments are getting marching orders that include the rapid development of both web based and mobile applications. Understanding the breakdown of the respondents helps to put it in perspective. 28% have 5,000 or more employees; 21% are over 10,000. Education, consulting, and financial services are well-represented, and 28% are IT director/manager or IT executive management (C-level/VP) level; an additional 9% are non-IT executives (C-level/VP) or line-of-business managers.

Some highlights from the responses:

  • Tech leaders that responded to the Survey stated clearly that they are reving up more app development, not less.
  • Android phones edged out both iPhones and iPads among platforms in use or under evaluation, cited by 78%; that’s up 12 points, from 66% in 2012.
  • 59% say coding and UI work are being done in-house versus 18% using external providers.
  • When specifying devices and platforms custom apps must support, IT and the business are in sync: “It’s a collaborative decision” was the No. 1 choice, up seven points.
  • 28% have no plans to develop browser-based mobile-optimized apps in the next 12 months; 30% say the same about native custom apps.

Applications are Exploding in BusinessOne thing that stuck out regularly throughout the statistics was that there is no clear consensus on which application development direction they should take.

Almost an even number of the respondents indicated that they wouldn’t be developing in either native or browser based modes. The native development camp sights security and device specific performance as the rationale for “going native” while folks focusing on browser based, device agnostic applications want the advantage of cross platform capabilities, faster development times and ease of deployment.

In considering the report industry commentator Andrew Murray poses the big problem companies trying to keep up have. He states in his Information Week review of the report that “One reason is that many companies have been building Web apps for a long time. They either have experienced in-house developers or can tap a robust market of third-party developers. Mobile development poses a new set of challenges. According to respondents, complex code development is their biggest challenge when it comes to mobile, followed by cross-platform compatibility and by finding or nurturing expertise.”

Although the report still showed much of the development being in-house it clearly identified shortcomings in those resources. With the growing availability of inexpensive outsourced development services the rush to create applications might drive more companies to look for outside help. You can expect that 18% outsourced development number to grow quickly as the pressure to meet the new demand continues to explode. Outsourcing some or part of your application development will aid in filling experience gaps without driving overhead beyond your present needs. It also gives you the flexibility to grow and contract your development expenses as needed and focus your in-house team on more critical projects or those that require specialized in-house expertise.

Companies will also find a rich set of resources in the form of development firms that have already been down this road for others. By tapping into their understanding of both your business or industry and the best ways to move that to mobile devices will save you time, money and perhaps even make the difference in whether you win or your competition does.

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