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For internal business apps, it’s all about rapid deployment

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As enterprises struggle to leverage mobile technology faster than their competitors, there is increasing pressure on developers to crank out apps. That’s what’s behind the rise of DevOps and cloud-based development; the desire to shorten the development process.

But is development speed really the point? Computerworld contributor Jack Gold argues that, in the case of internal mobile productivity apps for employees (as opposed to customer-facing apps), rapid application development in and of itself should not be the goal. Rather, it should be rapid application deployment:

“A typical mobile app can cost from $250K-$500K (or more), and take 6-12 months to develop and deploy. But over that time period, the potential for significant payback in enhanced operations is lost. Any delay that keeps employee productivity below what it could otherwise achieve represents a real loss to your bottom line.”

To avoid falling into that trap, Gold says, enterprises must approach internal mobile apps development differently. “Unlike consumer facing apps that need to be perfect in function and user experience, internal apps don’t necessarily need to meet those criteria,” he writes. “Usable ‘good enough’ apps that provide worker productivity improvements are just as valuable, especially if they can be created easily and updated often to take advantage of changes in the business environment.”

The obvious question here is what constitutes “good enough”? That’s a gray area, since what one employee might consider “good enough,” another employee might deem unusable, which won’t much help your mobile apps ROI. As one of Gold’s readers commented, “If you don’t pay enough attention to the mobile experience and how it fits with the job function, people won’t use the app no matter how fast you get it out there or how many times you update it.”

Still, Gold’s ROI models clearly show there’s a cost in terms of lost productivity opportunities when internal mobile apps deployment is delayed. It’s up to enterprise IT and development team leaders to find the “sweet spot” where deployment time and apps functionality deliver the best ROI. Since we’re talking about productivity apps, much of that should be measurable.

Are you getting enough ROI out of your internal mobile apps?

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