A recent survey provides a glowing report on the state of mobile app development and usage in enterprises, with spending on mobile app development continues on the upswing for many businesses. The report, published by CDW, finds that 48 percent of the 374 businesses they surveyed increased spending on mobile apps in 2014. In addition, enterprise managers say mobile apps are helping things run smoother.

But are mobile apps ultimately more efficient?  The problem right now is the large number of separate platforms for mobile – Android, Apple, Blackberry and Windows, just to names the leaders. Each of these are proprietary closed systems (yes, even Android, which is shared by a number of vendors). As a result, deploying apps to these platforms requires separate development efforts and re-tweaking.

It harkens back to the old pre-Web days, when PCs, Macs and Unix workstations all ran their own separate breeds of applications, with little to no opportunities to share systems and data. The Web browser fixed all that. Now, things seem to have taken a step backwards, and once again we have applications bound to hardware devices. If an insurer wants to support both Windows and iOS users, it has to support two development efforts.

That’s the state of the world, as any good and responsive company needs to go where its customers – and to large extent, employees – live. The mobile app frenzy that began about three to four years ago, has not abated. The CDW survey suggests that mobile applications are demonstrating their value in terms of productivity, time and costs. The survey finds a healthy number of executives reporting tangible benefits including increased efficiency (46 percent), increased productivity (41 percent) and allowing employees to work remotely (39 percent).  Of course, it’s still notable that when 46 percent report increased efficiency, that means 54 percent did not see such benefits yet.

The survey also shows that many companies are building their own apps. The survey shows companies tend to use more off-the-shelf than custom mobile apps – averaging six off-the-shelf apps compared to five custom mobile apps, on average. However, it’s notable that custom apps have the ability to deliver high business value because they are targeted at a company’s unique needs and aim to transform a processes. Companies primarily use custom mobile apps to support communications (36 percent), sales support (35 percent), and data access (34 percent). 

[See also: Insurers Ramp Up Mobile Capabilities]

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