Survey: Enterprise Mobile Dev Slowed by C-Level Concerns

Information technology executives understand the benefits of mobilizing their companies' apps, but many are dragging their feet because of concerns about cost, complexity and security. That's one of the conclusions of a survey of 300 CIOs in the U.S. and the U.K., published this week by platform and tools startup Mobile Helix.

Eighty-one percent of the CIOs in the survey reported that the cost of developing or re-engineering enterprise apps for use on mobile devices is currently too high because the mobile market is so fragmented. Sixty-five percent said they believed that mobilization of legacy applications -- enabling touch and swipe capabilities, for example -- is simply too complex. And yet 87 percentof the CIOs reported that their employees want more access to enterprise data and applications on their mobile devices.

"There are quite a few companies that have made the decision to develop one or two native mobile apps," Matt Bancroft, Mobile Helix Co-Founder and COO, told ADTmag. "Their experience led them to conclude that it's not a viable or scalable solution going forward. Given the number of applications enterprises ideally would like to make securely available to their employees on mobile devices -- in our survey, the  average was more than 400 custom and packaged applications within an organization -- I think that conclusion was unavoidable."

The survey suggested that a mobile strategy based solely on native apps is less likely to succeed at the enterprise level than a strategy based on Web-app development, given these numbers, especially now that HTML5 has reached its current level of maturity. "Over the past 20 years, enterprises have got into a mode of living on pretty fast refresh cycles for their own applications," Bancroft said. "They write new versions fairly rapidly, because their business is evolving and they need to be responsive to the businesses need. Imagine trying to do that with hundreds of applications. It's just not feasible. Our research shows that, for the vast majority of enterprise applications -- I'm not saying all, but most -- HTML5 and Web-based solutions offer a cheaper, simpler, easier way for enterprises to mobilize critical applications and productivity tools to their employees."

Mobile Helix is a two-year-old company founded by Bancroft and Seth Hallem. Bancroft is a former vice president of Flatiron Technologies, a developer of mobile broadband IP technologies that was acquired by Qualcomm 2006 to build out its 4G networking capabilities. Hallem is the former CEO of software development testing company Coverity.

The company's core product is the Link Helix Browser, which is an enterprise-grade, encapsulated browser the company has customized for specific mobile operating systems. It currently runs on iOS and Android, and the company is adding a version for Windows Phone and Blackberry in Q4. The Link product suite also includes a broad set of tools and services, including a cloud-based management console, a free HTML5-based Software Development Kit (SDK), and several packaged applications built by the company with its own SDK. The packages, which run inside the secure environment on the mobile device, including a SharePoint List browser, a native SharePoint integration application, an email/calendar/contacts app, and a file browsing and collaboration solution.

"In this consumerized, BYOD, app-store-enabled world, consumers are now pretty sophisticated IT users," he said. "If IT doesn't lead and provide useful, intuitive tools for employees to work productively when they're not in their office, then those employees are going to find their own solutions, which creates and even bigger headache for IT."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].