Yesterday I wrote about how mobile is paying off in the enterprise (companies). Today, I came across a new report on App, Platform and
Device Preferences (PDF) from Good Technology that digs deeper .
The report looks into apps and devices used by companies globally. Companies are mainly using office and communication apps such as contacts, calendar, email, IM, document access and the browser is actually the most used app for accessing additional business functionality. The insurance industry is an early leader in custom apps in that it represents over a third of all apps activated that access custom business processes.
As it happens, I have actually worked on one such (car) insurance app. I think the appeal for companies is that there’s a direct and quickly measurable impact for the (insurance) business. It allows access to new business and new channels in what’s a highly competitive industry. In other businesses, measuring the impact of custom apps can be less measurable and might even cannibalise existing access methods which might have some internal company inertia to ‘keep going’ even though they are out of date and inefficient. Less competitive industries than insurance have less incentive to care. However, with Google reporting upwards of 50% of us are now using mobile in preference to desktops/laptops, the laggards will have to eventually consider access via mobile, even if it is only from a web browser.
Airwatch has some new research on the use of mobile in the enterprise, in particular for mid-market companies. It splits the market into progressive and conservative adopters.
An important insight is that 70% of the progressive adopters are saying the investment is paying off. A large proportion (75%) say mobile is now critical for business.
What does this mean for mobile developers? I continue to believe that ‘enterprise’ development is more important than the more trivial ‘apps for end consumers’ although there’s an overlap between the two. By ‘important’ I mean there are greater opportunities, have longer lasting appeal and tend to be more financially viable. All of the apps I have recently developed are more ‘enterprise’ than they are ‘end user’. Some are internal apps for employees, some are stand-alone hardware-based products while others cross over to end users to allow them to access the business as customers. These kinds of app are not marketing-type apps that are here today, gone tomorrow. They need to be supported and updated over time to support new business features and new devices.
I have recently written how anyone using app creating tools based on WebViews or using WebViews in their app needs to be aware of security vulnerabilities. Taking this further, there has been a recent presentation at BlackHat Asia 15 on ‘The nightmare behind the cross platform mobile apps dream‘.
The problem with cross platform is that it provides a uniform environment that offers up a large number of apps that can be hacked in the same way and, as it turns out, can also be more easily hacked. The presentation gives some sobering problems with Cordova, Adobe AIR and Titanium. For example, Adobe AIR’s EncryptedStorage API doesn’t do much and only stores data as Base64 encoded. Titanium’s default https is broken, doesn’t validate the SSL certificate and hence is vulnerable to Man in the Middle (MiTM) attacks.
If you are using cross platform tools then you are passing some responsibility for security to the framework. I am beginning to think platform tools are actually less suitable for Enterprise because that’s where there are usually increased security concerns.