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AT&T's Partnership with SAP Sign of Mobile App Future

By Ann All     Feedback

Partnerships like one in which AT&T will offer SAP's Mobile Platform to its business customers will become more common to satisfy the burgeoning demand for enterprise mobile apps.

While many folks have smartphones loaded with mobile apps for personal tasks from vacation planning to just killing time, most of us haven't used them as much for work duties. That is beginning to change, though, with a growing number of apps for business.

These apps include ERP, content management and CRM.  At least one startup, AppMesh, does not even offer a desktop version of its mobile CRM software.

Of course, existing enterprise mobile apps do not meet the needs of every organization – which means at least some companies will develop their own mobile apps. According to Forrester Research, 37 percent of IT organizations want to develop mobile apps in the next 18 months.

Despite this obvious interest, companies are not finding it easy or inexpensive to develop mobile apps. According to research from AnyPresence, more than half of companies said it took them at least three months to develop mobile apps. In addition, 25 percent of companies spent over $100,000 on average to develop an enterprise mobile app.

Even faced with these time and budget hurdles, AnyPresence found that three-quarters of the companies it surveyed plan to add at least three mobile apps in 2013.

Similarly, a survey from Mobile Helix found that 65 percent of CIOs said development costs were slowing deployment and adoption of enterprise mobile apps. Sixty-three percent also mentioned security concerns, and 48 percent cited worries about increased support and maintenance costs.

Companies that let these concerns slow their development efforts, however, face pushback from impatient business users and stealth downloads of unsanctioned mobile apps.

So it's highly likely we will see more solutions like the one rolled out this week by software giant SAP and AT&T in which AT&T will offer SAP's Mobile Platform to its business customers. Apps developed on this platform, which also includes tools for application security and management, will integrate with existing IT backend systems.

Customers will also enjoy access to a library of pre-packaged mobile business apps, which should greatly reduce development time and costs. AT&T will make the solution available in the fourth quarter.

The SAP announcement is part of AT&T's broader effort to foster what it calls "an ecosystem of innovation," especially around enterprise initiatives involving mobility, cloud and security. Mobility is booming in the enterprise, according to AT&T, which says more than 68,000 of its business customers spanning multiple industries are using mobile apps.

Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.

This article was originally published on September 18, 2013
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