App Economy, meet the corporate IT Department

date: 25 September 2013
reading time: 3 min

The past five years have witnessed the rise and rise of the app economy. From mobile apps downloaded on smartphones and tablets, to web apps used directly on browsers, the global app economy is now worth over $52bn.

The past five years have witnessed the rise and rise of the app economy. From mobile apps downloaded on smartphones and tablets, to web apps used directly on browsers, the global app economy is now worth over $52bn. And the EU is a big player: a study released in early September by a technology industry group, found that the EU produces 22 percent of app-related products and services worldwide, making it second only to North America.

The app economy may seem like a consumer phenomenon, but just like BYOD, it will have a massive effect on corporate IT departments.

BYOD already has a strong foothold in the enterprise. Increasingly, employees are wanting to source apps for their devices, apps that will make them more productive while on the move. It’s no longer just games they’re downloading, it’s also business tools. In fact the most popular downloads on the Wix and Google Chrome app stores are business-related apps. With more and more personal devices running a wide range of third-party applications, IT departments need to get to grips with apps – they need to be enabling mobile application usage on personal devices in a safe and productive way.

To date, mobile app spending has barely dented the massive $127bn spent globally on enterprise software. Yet business tool apps are not free. The end-users who want to acquire these are generally not in the IT department and don’t have the responsibility to purchase them. So, the IT department should be helping to procure and standardise on the mobile and web apps that users are clamouring for.

One way to do this is by reviewing and purchasing apps available on public app stores. However, this approach comes with its own risks. The majority of mobile apps are created by small companies. Unfortunately, security is often an afterthought to many of these smaller startups. Apps can have millions of users and also store Personally Identifiable Information (PII). A hacker could get as much information by attacking them, as they could from attacking a regional bank. Take the March 2013 hack on Evernote (which is actually made by a medium sized company) as an example what I am talking about. The fact is that often small app developers cannot afford expensive security audits.

Another option is to create your own apps, custom-made to fit your functionality and security requirements. With around 500,000 ‘new’ app economy-related developers globally, as well as traditional software development companies with mobile experience, like Future Processing, there is no shortage of choice when it comes to finding an app development partner.

What’s more, the app economy is truly borderless. Apps are being developed all over the world, for markets all over the world. A few months ago Flurry, a US mobile advertising business, analysed the data it has collected about 350,000 app developers. It showed that nearly half of all apps consumed in the US were developed abroad, and this percentage is increasing rapidly.

The enterprise app economy is still in its infancy, but its potential is enormous. Companies are only just starting to create their own app stores. Yet, in just a few years I am sure that the enterprise app store will be ubiquitous and that they will contain a mix of off-the shelf and custom-built apps, that were developed in a wide range of countries – including, I hope, Poland.

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