As employees bring smartphones and tablets to work, enterprises must figure out how to give them access to the tools and data they need to do their job.
One approach is to build custom mobile apps for specific functions.
AppCentral is a startup that helps enterprises manage and distribute these custom apps through enterprise app stores. This month, the company surveyed 200 employees who use their smartphones or tablets for work.
Here are six interesting things they learned. (The full survey is here.)
1. BYOD is common, but it's not the rule.
(All images used with permission of AppCentral.)
As you might expect, the majority of people surveyed own the tablets or smartphones they use to access work resources. (The red bars in the chart.) But surprisiungly, nearly 40% of employees were using a company-owned device. The ratio was even higher -- 50% -- in mid-size companies.
2. iOS and Android dominate, but BlackBerry and Windows Mobile are hanging on in some big corporations.
So what devices are they using? Mostly iPhones and iPads, and Android smartphones -- just like the consumer market at large.
BlackBerry is still pretty common among larger companies, with about 15% share in companies with more than 100 employees. More surprising, Microsoft's mobile platforms made up 8% of installations in big enterprises with more than 5,000 employees. A lot of those are presumably older phones running Windows Mobile, rather than new devices running the Windows Phone platform that Microsoft rolled out in 2010.
3. A lot of companies are building custom apps.
A huge majority -- 68% -- of respondents said they were using at least one app that had been developed by their company. And a remarkable 13% said they were using 11 or more custom apps.
4. Field enablement and customer service are the most commom types of custom apps.
The breakdown varies by company size, but most custom apps are for salespeople and others in the field (which makes sense -- these are mobile apps, after all) or customer support reps. Collaboration apps were also common in mid-size and larger companies.
AppCentral noted that this data isn't perfect because respondents could only pick one answer, and some are undoubtedly using more than one type of app. But it does suggest which apps they think of first, or use most frequently.
5. The split between public and private app stores is almost even.
Most employees are accessing these custom mobile apps through consumer app stores. In particular, Apple enables companies to distribute apps to employees using iTunes. (The process is described in this help guide.) But almost as many were using a private enterprise app store. Add in the number of folks installing from a catalo, and it's about even between public app stores and private systems.
Notably, a sizable portion were sideloading directly from their computer.
6. Business units, not IT, are driving development and deployment of custom apps.
The development of mobile apps is most commonly paid for by business units, not IT departments.
So what can we conclude from all this?
The move to mobile was driven by users, not IT departments. Similarly, the rise of custom apps is being driven by the employees and business units who need them. The result is an explosion of apps that aren't necessarily created, deployed, or distributed in a standard companywide fashion.