Want to see where all the enterprise mobile apps will be? Most of them won't be in the office.

Want to see where all the enterprise mobile apps will be? It's not in the office.

Want to see where all the enterprise mobile apps will be? It’s not in the office.

Many people are excited about enterprise mobility and enterprise apps. I’m one of them. But let’s face it: sometimes we meet people that are lukewarm or just not excited at all.

Part of the reason that some people just aren’t as into enterprise mobility is that they’ve actually already been experiencing its benefits for years. We’ve had email, calendaring, and messaging—still the killer apps for many of us—for well over a decade. When iOS and Android came on the scene, sure there was an initial struggle to figure out enterprise email and BYOD, but nevertheless, soon enough we had all the email access and security we needed. Beyond email, we can place enterprise file sync and share, collaboration, and productivity apps in the same category. These are apps that, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t the most difficult to roll out. We also have mobile clients for many SaaS applications; a broad range of consumer apps to make our work lives easier; and we can use shadow IT to solve other problems.

So for people in this group (and that definitely includes me, too) it can at times seem natural to wonder where the excitement and demand for enterprise apps is.

The answer of course is outside of offices, in the extended enterprise. By "extended enterprise" I mean field workers, factory workers, part-time employees, contractors, external partners, and so on. (I could have also just said “task workers,” but really I think extended enterprise is a better descriptor for these use cases, and I kind of hate the terms “task worker” and “knowledge worker.”)

These extended enterprise use-cases are where a mobile app can still be transformational, and the idea of enterprise mobility is fresher and more exciting. There are thousands of new killer apps waiting to be made. They could replace paper-based processes; they could reduce hardware costs by taking advantage of BYOD; or they could reduce training times by being more targeted and easy to use. Many of these apps and use cases should be obvious—these are situations where users and business units will be knocking on the door saying “We want an app for this.”

Of course there’s a caveat: to enable this scenario, it’s essential to have fast, simple, and inexpensive ways to build enterprise mobile apps. That’s where mobile app development platforms and app transformation come into play. The result will be many rapidly-evolving task-specific apps, based on user needs and feedback. Another essential element will be the appropriate EMM tools to secure, deploy, and manage all these apps.

The bottom line for this conversation is that if you want to see the true excitement and where the apps are at, it’s going to be in the extended enterprise.

I’m not implying that those of us in non-extended enterprise use cases are taking mobility for granted. It’s just that if your killer app is email and messaging, and most of the other apps you use are readily available already, it’s only natural to be less interested in enterprise mobility and building enterprise apps, because you’ve had your killer app for years. Many extended enterprise use cases have not.

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Excellent points, Jack.  I think you're 100% spot on here.  Enterprises for the most part either gotten over the hurdle of mobilizing their core LOB applications or have identified their need and pathway and have a roadmap to do so.  Exactly like you stated, it is the supplier/partner integration, the influence of IoT and sensor data integration to improve operational processes, and the apps to help make field processes more efficient and link them to the core LOB platforms where I see huge potential for our clients.  There will be vast opportunities in specific verticals for thought leaders and innovators to build out the future and succeed there.