Thursday, 01 June 2017 23:36

Enterprises lag demand for mobile app development: Gartner

Enterprises lag demand for mobile app development: Gartner Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Many enterprises are slow to respond to increasing demand for mobile apps, with more than a quarter of enterprises globally still not having built, customised or virtualised apps in the last 12 months, according to a new report.

And although Gartner expresses surprise that the number is high, it is still down from the year before — 2016 — when 39% of respondents said they had not built, customised or virtualised any mobile apps in the previous 12 months.

Gartner research director Andrew Leow says with enterprises responding slowly to increasing demand for mobile apps, many IT teams will have significant backlogs of application work that need completing, which increases the risk of lines of business going around IT to get what they want sooner.

According to the survey, those enterprises that have undertaken mobile app development have deployed an average of eight mobile apps to date, which has remained relatively flat when compared with 2016.

On average, another 2.6 mobile apps are currently being developed and 6.2 are planned for the next 12 months, but not yet in development.

"It's encouraging to see significant growth in the number of mobile apps that are planned, but most of this growth is in mobile web apps as opposed to native or hybrid mobile apps," Leow says.

"This indicates that some enterprises may be frustrated with developing mobile apps and are instead refocusing on responsive websites to address their mobile needs."

The survey reveals that 52% of respondents have begun investigating, exploring or piloting the use of bots, chatbots or virtual assistants in mobile app development, which Gartner says is surprisingly high given how nascent these technologies are.

The analyst firm refers to these so-called nascent technologies as post-app technologies that belong to an era where the traditional app — obtained from an app store and installed onto a mobile device — will become just one of a wide range of ways that functionality and services will be delivered to mobile users.

And Gartner says application leaders need to understand the different post-app technologies that are emerging to ensure their mobile app strategies remain relevant and succeed.

"While this response may be more indicative of greater awareness of these technologies than of anything else, it's still good to see that enterprises have begun to consider these technologies, because they will grow in importance relatively rapidly," Leow says.

But there are barriers to be overcome, according to Gartner.

The primary barriers to mobile initiatives are resources related – lack of funds, worker hours and skills gaps.

Gartner says cost concerns are pervasive in IT organisations so this is not surprising, but points to the need to enhance productivity with the budgets that IT development organisations already have.

Other barriers revealed by the survey include a lack of business benefits and ROI justification. However, Gartner says a lack of understanding of customer needs may contribute to this.

In terms of spending, the survey revealed that organisations' actual IT spend on mobile apps is consistently lower than they forecast.

Despite 68% of organisations expecting to increase spending for mobile apps, the average proportion of the overall software budget is only 11%.

And the survey reveals that those that plan on increasing spending in 2017 expect to do so by 25% over last year – but for the past few years, Gartner's research has shown that while organisations have indicated that they will increase their mobile app development budget spend, the reality is that spending allocation has decreased.

"Application leaders must turn around this trend of stagnating budgeted spend on mobile app development, as employees increasingly have the autonomy to choose the devices, apps and even the processes with which to complete a task," Leow says.

"This will place an increasing amount of pressure on IT to develop a larger variety of mobile apps in shorter time frames.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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