UK and US businesses are expected to double their spending on mobile technologies in the next 18 months, but picking where and how to spend the money is proving tricky.
The average current spend by all businesses on mobile technology based projects will rise to £590,000 in the next year and a half, from £296,000 currently. Much like the emergence of IT from the shadowy server room and into the boardroom in the '90s, Jim Hemmer, CEO of Antenna, believes this increase in spending is a solid sign of the dominance mobile is now wielding in business development plans.
"Mobile devices are now so ubiquitous that a business without a mobile strategy is a business without a strategy. Investment in mobile is growing at a meteoric rate, and that's partly due to companies thinking beyond the app and beyond the idea that mobile is only critical when it comes to consumer engagement," he said.
The research, entitled Mobile Business Forecast 2012 was released by Antenna Software, which commissioned Vanson Bourne to interview 1,000 US and UK CIOs and business leaders on their plans for 2012.
Consumerisation and mobile technology is very much the focus for most CIOs. A third of all UK and US businesses are planning to launch four or more than four mobile projects in the next 12-18 months, and nearly half are in the process of developing apps as a form of direct interaction with their customers.
Antenna's research shows that 43% are currently working on a mobile app for their customers, and 42% for their own employees. 32% of businesses are currently working on hybrid web-apps for their customers (28% for employees).
Still, only 45% of businesses have mobile compatible websites for their customers.
More interestingly, most of the companies surveyed were using three different vendors to cover the three different spaces, highlighting the industry need for unified platforms. Everyone from Research in Motion to Cisco has thrown their hat into the ring in this key growth market, and Antenna is no different.
The mobility app development industry remains deadlocked in two main camps, the more open standard, cross-platform HTML5 model and the more closed, app based Android/Apple options. RIMs BlackBerry and Microsoft's Windows Phone products options trail in the distance, mostly ignored by the development community - which causes problems for these products - so much of the mobile martket is now based around a product eco-system, rather than just the operating system and hardware. Businesses need to cash in here while they can, especially as consumerisation appears to be on every CIOs mind.
Antenna will be launching its new AMPChroma software next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The company claims AMPChroma will be a development platform straddling both native apps and hybrid web-apps, mobile websites, and corporate app stores, all from a single web-based console based in the cloud.
"The stresses and strains of joining the mobile revolution are still too much for a lot of businesses to handle. Only when companies can quickly, securely and cost-effectively mobilise themselves whenever, wherever, and however they need to will we see them unlocking the true potential of the mobile channel," said Hemmer.
According to the authors of companies undertaking this kind of fractured development will see their mobile business strategies becoming more difficult to manage over time.
The speed of project roll outs is also of concern for CIOs. In a market where RIMs Blackberry and Nokia's Symbian based smartphones went from first and second place in market share in 2008 to nearly non-existent today, getting project cycles tight, efficient and quickly completed is key.
The report noted that 45% of IT and business decision makers in the UK and US are dissatisfied with the speed at which the mobile projects they commission get to market. In addition, 42 per cent of respondents attested to being frequently dissatisfied with the eventual cost of the solutions deployed. The report revealed that, on average, projects commissioned by UK and US companies take six months to come to fruition, with one in 10 taking a year or more to complete.