Move aside, Clash of Clans, Snapchat, and Yelp. As compelling as consumer mobile app opportunities have been over the past decade, the world’s biggest companies are shifting some of their attention towards building mobile apps for a new (and captive) audience: their own employees.

Earlier this year, Gartner reported that nearly 75% of global enterprise businesses had built, customized, or virtualized mobile apps in the past 12 months. Of those enterprise businesses that had undertaken mobile app development, each had an average of 6.2 apps planned for development in the subsequent 12 months. That’s a lot of enterprise mobile apps in the pipeline, which begs the question – why do it?

Top Reasons why Enterprise Businesses Build Mobile Apps

top reasons why enterprise businesses build mobile apps

  • Achieve Greater ROI – One of the key findings in VMware’s Business Mobility Report was that companies investing in mobility were generating an approximate return on investment (ROI) of 150%. Unlike a commercial mobile app that is sold to customers, where ROI comes in the form of software or licensing revenues, enterprise mobile apps tend to offer ROI in the form of increased productivity, which can materialize as revenue OR profits depending on use case.
  • Increase Productivity – Enterprise mobile apps help increase employee productitivity by allowing them to get work done even when they cannot be in front of a computer, such as during their commute, lunchbreak, or on the road. Additionally, businesses that support mobile productivity are seen as more attractive by potential employees, who might value the work/life balance mobility affords them.
  • Empower Workers in the Field – It’s impractical for some types of field workers to have to sit in front of a computer. Mobile apps are now empowering workers to work more effectively in the field, whether that means in a warehouse, factory, hospital, or other setting where mobility is a critical job requirement.
  • Leverage Big Data – Enterprise mobile apps put big data capabilities – the ability to access customer data in real time, for example — into the hands of your employees. With the prevalence of Internet connectivity for smart devices, mobile apps are no longer bound by local processing and storage limitations.
  • Provide Consistent User Experience – Because the vast majority of mobile devices run on Android and iOS, providing and maintaining a consistent and reliable user experience for critical business applications can be easier on mobile platforms than on desktop computers.

Why Enterprise Mobile Apps Deliver Dependable ROI

Unlike traditional commercial apps, enterprise mobile apps tend to take a beeline right past traditional go-to-market characteristics like a catchy app name, marketing strategy, and freemium pricing. That’s because, for the most part, your app isn’t competing with any other app for your users. Enterprise mobile apps are custom-built to support work flows that themselves are proprietary or customized for your business.

Here’s a simple example to illustrate the idea of an enterprise mobile app as a monopoly:

Let’s say CitrusCorp uses:

  • SAP for enterprise resource planning (ERP)
  • Oracle for accounting
  • Salesforce for customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Marketo for marketing automation
  • And the cherry on top: a proprietary/home-built software for supply chain management

If CitrusCorp wants to provide its employees with an app that supports a mobile work flow that touches all five of its major IT platforms, the only practical solution is to build a custom mobile application.

The custom-built app fulfills an important need – the ability to perform complex work – while away from the computer. And, importantly, it is the ONLY app that is able to do this. Assuming that the custom app is built competently, CitrusCorp is sure to see strong app adoption among its employee base, resulting in increased profitability from the enhanced work flows.

For enterprise companies, including those at the mercy of quarterly earnings reports, the ability to deliver predictable ROI is extremely attractive. Compare that type of a profitability-boosting opportunity with a customer-facing app opportunity, where stiff competition in the app store and/or slow user adoption are significant factors that could prevent you from realizing your targeted ROI.

Now that we’ve covered some of the reasons why enterprise businesses like to build mobile apps for employees, let’s discuss a few of the most popular types of enterprise mobile apps.

Top Use Cases for Enterprise Mobile Apps

  • Collaboration
  • Conferencing
  • Asset Management
  • Scheduling & Approvals
  • Expense Reporting
  • Time Tracking (Clock In/Out)
  • Travel Planning
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Sales Quotes & Orders
  • Pricing
  • Appointment Management
  • Work Orders & Signatures
  • Project Management
  • Employee Feedback
  • Rewards & Motivation
  • Internal Events
  • HR Procedures & Information

The use cases listed above are just some of the more common use cases we’ve seen across different enterprise businesses. There are many more industry-specific or niche use cases – think mobile apps for emergency room doctors, industrial engineers, and warehouse workers, for example. In fact, niche use cases are often where the most business value is found.

mobile applications in the field

Some industries have critical use cases for mobile apps in the field.

How to Build Enterprise Mobile Apps

Building enterprise mobile apps requires deep expertise in mobile devices, mobile software platforms such as iOS and Android, as well as mobile user interface and user experience (UI/UX) design. Some businesses, particularly enterprise tech/software companies, do have the necessary expertise in house and use specialized teams to churn out mobile applications for employees, partners, and customers alike.

However, many enterprise companies don’t have the specialized staff in house to design and/or develop the mobile apps they want to build. For those enterprise businesses dealing with this sort of knowledge/experience gap, mobile app development agencies such as CitrusBits are able to function as an extension of internal enterprise teams, delivering complex enterprise mobile applications with speed and reliability.

Enterprise Mobile Application Strategy

Regardless of what development approach you ultimately decide on, it’s critical to think about enterprise mobile apps as an ongoing strategy, rather than as a series of “one-off” projects. Doing so will allow you to build a synergistic mobile app ecosystem that supports greater user adoption, resulting in higher overall ROI.

Also, consider that while your enterprise mobile apps might not face direct competition in the form of competitive apps, your business certainly does face competition. Building out a strong pipeline of enterprise mobile apps is one of the best ways for businesses to remain competitive and operate at optimal efficiency.

CitrusBits has successfully employed a “tiger team” approach to mobile app design and development for hundreds of businesses, including enterprise clients such as Burger King, Quiksilver, and Symantec. CitrusBits combines the top minds in mobile user experience design and mobile app development with an Agile-based process and a penchant for excelling in crunchtime. If you’ve got enterprise mobile application ideas brewing, or even perhaps stalled in development, we’d love to hear from you.