The tablet space is heating up as arguably one of the most competitive consumer and business-facing marketplaces today. On deck is the heavily rumored iPad mini (alleged to be unveiled on October 23) alongside a potential new 10-inch Google Nexus tablet and 3G-capable version of its Nexus 7. Aside from the much-hyped Microsoft Corp. Surface Windows 8 tablet, Best Buy is also throwing its hat into the ring with the Android-powered Insignia Flex.
While the demand for MDM will no doubt grow with the influx of tablets, there also exists another space where tablets and the channel can play: mobile applications. Besides, hardware is only as good as the software it runs.
According to a recent Zenrpise Inc. survey of 501 IT professionals, mobile initiatives in the business world are moving full-steam ahead. Many businesses are now “proactively” looking at alternative computing and mobile strategies, primarily because investing in mobile app development today can target workplace needs while accommodating BYOD demands at the same time. What’s more, the sentiment about mobility is highly favorable.
Nearly 75 percent of respondents say mobile apps will be deployed in their organization within the next year — and those apps would directly support business initiatives. Just over 50 percent say mobile apps will not just be deployed, but will actually be “mission-critical” apps. Perhaps the most telling figure is the sizable 81 percent of respondents who promise custom mobile apps will be deployed between now and this time next year.
Why the sudden surge? Zenprise cites the largest motivation, at nearly 32 percent, to be “competitive differentiation.” A smaller percentage of 19 percent seeks mobility as a way to increase overall revenue.
Worth noting: Only 24 percent see a direct “monetary return on investment,” with an average of $1.67 returned on each dollar spent. But, to be fair, ROI on mobile investments cannot always be evaluated monetarily; roductivity and work-flow improvements don’t reach the bottom line immediately. Still, for a relatively nascent space, that’s a good chunk of organizations seeing direct benefits from moving to mobile in 2012.
There are two separate strategies to mobile: 40.2 percent use third party help from system integrators, leveraging their expertise to deliver applications built for the workplace, while another 40.7 percent say in-house development is the preferred strategy.
For the channel, there’s already a built-in spot with the 40.2 percent looking for system integrators. Here, MSPs and ISVs can work with customers to provide the development and implementation of the custom app, and possibly provide additional or linked cloud services for that app. This is a lucrative customer relationship; it can both build reoccurring revenue and create stickiness for continued mobile development. But even for the other 40.7 percent, there’s wiggle room. Consider consultative services, or at the very least, cloud-based services through which a company’s custom app can leverage more sophisticated capabilities, whether it’s Big Data, security or storage.
For solution providers that understand mobility not their forte, there’s still space to deliver mobile solutions. Vendors are gearing up mobile app strategies. SAP AG, for example, is focused on building a robust business apps platform, and companies like Citrix Systems Inc. have an app-cloud style solution set.
Today is the most opportune time to speak to customers about a mobile app strategy. Developments built today are likely to create a continued path for growth in an increasingly mobile world, and that’s where a real return on investment can be fully appreciated.
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