Mobile App Development

Why demand for mobile capability is damaging big business

1st March 2016

New research conducted by Outsystems has outlined why the shortage of mobile development expertise is harming revenue in the enterprise. The research has revealed that 85% of enterprises have a backlog of mobile app development projects because they are unable to cope with technical demand. In many cases, shipping a new mobile app project can take anywhere between 3 and 12 months. The time it takes to ship mobile apps and the associated complexities with resourcing development projects is now taking its toll on big business and damaging future revenue potential. Today we’re exploring why demand for mobile capability is harming big companies (you can download the Opinion Matters report here).

Only 6% of Enterprises Have All the Mobile Developer Talent They Need (Opinion Matters)

The Opinion Matters survey analysed over 200 different enterprises from across the UK and USA and established that the vast majority of companies were experiencing significant difficulty launching new app projects. In fact, 85% of companies surveyed have a mobile development backlog of between one and twenty apps, with 50% having a backlog of between ten and twenty app projects. This is damaging because 64% of the app development projects that are currently backlogged are designed to generate revenue. In addition, 58% of backlogged mobile initiatives are designed to optimise the UX of an existing mobile app.

The study was sponsored by PaaS provider OutSystems and the findings offer an incredible insight into the mobile app development ecosystem within large organisations. The report also focuses on the challenges that big businesses face when shipping new mobile projects and optimising existing apps.

The Enterprise Mobility Landscape

In today’s business world mobile capability has become a core requirement. Consumer and business demand is forcing large businesses to adopt new mobile initiatives, irrespective of whether they’re adequately equipped to deal with the demand. Most big businesses are now having to develop mobile apps, even if they don’t like it or know how. The study suggested that over 90% of workers take their smartphones to work and use them for work related tasks and it’s estimated that by 2018 there will be nearly 5 billion smartphone users. In 2014 mobile Internet traffic overtook desktop related web traffic, further underpinning mobile’s dominance in the technological business landscape.

Demand for mobile capability

In the last year alone, over half of the big companies surveyed have delivered between one and five mobile app projects, with 44% having undertaken between six and ten. This means that within a 12 month timeframe, 95% of big businesses have undertaken between one and 10 mobile app development initiatives.

The rapid growth of smartphone adoption has now created demand for mobile app development expertise across a wide array of platforms, many with requirements for complex API integrations and ongoing optimisation capability. In terms of open vacancies for mobile developers, the results of the survey are astonishing:

  • 63% of enterprises have between 11% and 25% open vacancies for mobile developers as a percentage of their existing team size
  • 29% have somewhere between 26% and 50% open vacancies for app developers as a percentage of their existing team size
  • Of the companies that have open mobile app developer vacancies, the top three skills they had major challenges recruiting for were Java (31%), JavaScript (19%) and .NET (17%)
  • 6% of respondents indicated they have no open vacancies due to a shortage of developer skills
  • This means that 94% of enterprises have open vacancies for mobile app development expertise

The survey was conducted was to illustrate in detail the effect that mobility is having on large companies. It’s estimated that 99% of businesses surveyed already acknowledge the crucial importance of integrating mobile app development into their wider IT strategy. The real problem is that most companies don’t know what to do about it. Getting apps to market quickly and optimising them overtime based on real-world user data is challenging. Most big companies don’t even know where to begin when it comes to sourcing mobile development capability for iOS, Android and HTML5.

Key Findings:

  • The two most significant challenges when developing mobile apps are budget (53%) and time (50%)
  • Only 4% of companies surveyed admitted to having zero challenges when developing mobile apps, this means that 96% are having a hard time getting mobile right
  • Nearly 75% of companies surveyed suggested they had between 6 and 15 developers working on their mobile app development projects, with 21% of respondents using somewhere between 16 and 30 people on any given project
  • When asked about their preferred type of mobile app development environment, 33% voted for hybrid, whilst less than 30% opted for native development and only 22% opted for HTML5 responsive design.
  • 16% of respondents indicated that their choice of technologies would vary depending upon the specific requirements of the project
  • Financial services, insurance, and pharmaceutical sectors all had high numbers of people (between 16 and 30 developers) working on any given mobile app project

How long does it take to recruit a mobile developer?

Given that sourcing mobile capability is one of the main enterprise business challenges, the problem is actually trying to recruit good developers. For the vast majority of companies trying to recruit a mobile app development team, the lead time on hiring an individual developer can take anywhere between four to six months. For some companies the lead time is even more arduous, with many businesses being forced to wait six to twelve months to successfully onboard a new mobile developer. The survey also found that it takes longer to recruit mobile app developers in the USA than it does in the UK, with a higher percentage of companies being forced to wait nearly twelve months to embed a new mobile developer within the existing team.

How to overcome the enterprise mobility bottleneck

If you work in IT, project management or software development, there are a number of approaches you can adopt:

Automate everything

Process automation will enable you to free up time for your existing development team. If developers are focused on low level IT tasks and minutiae that aren’t deemed to be mission critical, the challenge is to allocate their resources elsewhere. You need to determine whether the tasks you’re asking them to perform are actually helping to increase business productivity, or stifling it.

“80% of IT spend still focused on ‘keeping the lights on” (Opinion Matters)

Identifying time consuming, low value IT development and admin tasks will help to unlock value in other areas of the company, namely resourcing backlogged mobility initiatives.

Use a ‘managed team’ approach

If you can’t recruit new developers or allocate existing development resource towards mobile, there’s always the option of leveraging the capability of an external third party. One challenge for big companies is becoming overly reliant on external mobile capability and this is where managed teams can play a critical role. Managed teams enable enterprises to quickly inject mobile capability into their workforce without having to recruit, retrain or worry about ‘agency lock in’.

When it comes to mobile app development, it’s essential that as your apps are being developed, that mobile-first expertise and thinking is being enshrined into the fabric of your company. The best way to ensure this happens is to engage a mobile development agency that can offer a fully managed team that can be bolted directly into an existing team of developers with minimal friction, enabling you to get your apps to market in a vastly reduced timescale. The trick is to embed a managed team, develop your app, launch it, optimise it, and eventually transfer the team and it’s in-built mobile capability into the heart of your organisation.




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