Mobile App Development Challenges

Despite all the hype around enterprise mobility, there are still significant challenges many organizations are facing. The simple truth is many organizations are finding the move to mobile applications more challenging than it might appear. Obviously, there’s going to be a great deal of pressure for IT organizations to start creating mobile apps—from their end users, corporate management, partners and others—but despite that pressure, the path to mobility can be long and arduous.

First, there’s often a resource constraint. It’s not that corporations don’t have access to in-house programming talent—they usually do. However, most of that talent is going to have experience on the Windows side, not necessarily on popular mobile platforms like Android and iOS. Of course, as discussed in a previous post, Windows can and should be a part of any mobile platform discussions.

Even if these organizations focus on adding Android and iOS programming talent, they also have to deal with recruitment challenges. Let’s be honest. If you’re a hotshot 27 year old mobile programmer, are you going to look for work on a corporation’s in-house app development team? Or are you going to try and join one of the seemingly never-ending supply of mobile startups that offer the promise of making millions with the latest hot app?[pullquote]If you’re a hotshot 27 year old mobile programmer, are you going to look for work on a corporation’s in-house app development team or join a startup?”[/pullquote]

Not only are there resource and experience issues in creating mobile apps within many companies, there are also organizational challenges. As mentioned in another post, some of the most compelling ROI stories for mobile apps can be made for line of business (LOB) workers, particularly those who are regularly out on the front lines or in the field. The problem is in many companies, LOB are not comfortable going to IT for custom solutions. In fact, the links between corporate IT and LOB in many organizations are relatively weak, making it difficult to organize meetings between the two groups to even start the process of defining a mobile application. On top of that, there are often serious questions about who manages, who funds, and who owns a mobile app created for a specific line of business group.

Another challenge for many organizations falls around metrics—or the lack thereof—for mobile applications. While most companies have clearly defined standards for measuring the success of desktop-based custom applications, many have yet to create solid standards for mobile apps. In some organizations for example, mobile end user performance does not matter to IT, because wireless network issues often fall under the auspices of a separate telecom group.

The desire and need for custom mobile application development is real, but many organizations are finding the reality of creating those apps is challenging on many fronts. The key issue is, in many IT shops, mobility is still more of an afterthought than a core guiding principle. In order to overcome this, companies are going to need to not only do some soul-searching regarding their development priorities, they’re also going to need to find resources and partners they can work with in order to help make mobile app development a key part of their strategy moving forward. It’s what the world is demanding of IT and it’s what IT needs to do.


Published by

Bob O'Donnell

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

4 thoughts on “Mobile App Development Challenges”

  1. “If you’re a hotshot 27 year old mobile programmer, are you going to look for work on a corporation’s in-house app development team or join a startup?””

    “hotshot 27 year old mobile programmers” have given us nothing a plethora of games and social media apps (more games?). They are busy chasing the money and the fame. What I think the world really needs is mature programmers doing “boring” work. The medical device industry needs help.

  2. >>”If you’re a hotshot 27 year old mobile programmer, are you going to look for work on a corporation’s in-house app development team?”

    This has been exactly our problem. We’re an IT dept in a large healthcare organization and we tried to build an in-house mobile development team, but we couldn’t achieve stable critical mass. After developing a couple apps internally we gave up and went back to outsourcing development. The young mobile programmers felt like fish out of water in a traditional IT dept, even worse in healthcare where the state of the art is mostly 1980’s at best, and were quickly lured away by VC-funded startups or the likes of Google or FB with their many perks, stock options, and modern toolsets.

    1. My wife’s employer, also a major healthcare provider has many challenges to attract mobile developers. One of the issues, the employer can only offer so much because of the budget setup for the position, title, and pay grade allowed.

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