Our Predictions for Enterprise Mobile Apps in 2017

With the close of another year comes the perfect time to reflect on the last 12 months in the enterprise mobile app market. As we wrote a few weeks ago, we have seen some fascinating enterprise apps created over the last year, and more organizations than ever have adopted an enterprise mobile apps strategy.

But what will the next 12 months hold for enterprise mobile apps? We decided to look back at what we predicted this time last year and then use our expert knowledge to predict where we think things are headed in 2017 for the enterprise and mobile apps.

Our 2016 predictions… were we right?

We made a selection of predictions for the last 12 months, so we decided to take a look at how we’d done in predicting the future!

Prediction 1: Companies will want to create more than one app

CORRECT – Recent research from Adobe suggests that on average, organizations are using more than one app. “69% of departments are using between 2 and 5 enterprise mobile apps, and a further 27% use 6 or more”.

There has been a realisation that a single-app solution is no longer the optimal approach for organizations. A one-size fits all approach to your mobile app strategy will mean that you lose out on value across all areas of your business which would benefit from multi-app solutions.

Prediction 2: All areas of business will realise that they need mobile apps

PARTIALLY WRONG – It’s safe to say that some departments have realised the importance of enterprise mobile apps more than others. Adoption rates of apps across organizations have varied over the past 12 months with departments such as Marketing, HR, Sales and Events being much more engaged with innovating their current processes to include enterprise apps.

On the other hand, IT departments are still slow to adopt the enterprise app technology. This is due to a number of reasons, but predominantly because security concerns plague the ability of organizations to get approval from their IT departments for new enterprise app solutions.

Prediction 3: “I need to create an app” will become as common as “I need to create a powerpoint presentation”

CORRECT – There’s no doubt that the need to create apps has increased and is more widely accepted than it was 12 months ago. Organizations are welcoming suggestions on how they can use mobile apps to their advantage.

That said, we think that this will again change in the next 12 months. Instead of “I need to create an app”, the common phrase coined by organizations across the board will be “We need a mobile app strategy”.

This encompasses the suggestion that businesses, both large and small, will realise the need for a well-rounded mobile strategy for both their internal and external needs. Your customers are not the only ones using mobile more than desktop, your employees are now doing that same.

Prediction 4: The most popular types of mobile apps will be Sales, Training, Internal Communications and HR

CORRECT – This is a fairly conservative prediction in hindsight as these departments were already leading the way in mobile app development 12 months ago. That being said, they have maintained their development of enterprise app solutions, with sales, training, HR and Internal Communications team using multiple apps to meet their needs on a daily basis.

There are a few reasons why these apps are more popular, but naturally, it is often the case that sales, training or internal communication apps are more beneficial for an organization than other app types.

A sales support app, for example, can directly have an impact on revenues generated by a sales team, thus, an organization is more likely to pursue that app type before others.

enterprise mobile apps 2017

What are our predictions for enterprise mobile apps in 2017?

1. The enterprise API market will go mainstream

We believe that in the next 12 months Application Programme Interfaces (APIs) will emerge as a key business driver for the larger non-IT companies, as more and more businesses start developing, offering and plugging with other companies’ APIs.

For the past few years, APIs have increasingly allowed companies to use fully-developed technologies within their apps instead of having to reinvent them every time. As an example, Uber uses the Google Maps API to enable GPS navigation, as well as other APIs like Twilio for SMS notifications, Braintree for payment processing and SendGrid for automating email campaigns.

The API economy is hugely dominated by tech startups, big media and software developing firms, but large non-IT companies are also doing great things by creating their own APIs. For a few examples see BBVA (see their API Market), the European Patent Office (API hereand Axa (APIs here), among many others.

Next year, we predict that nearly every company who’s IT forward will invest in creating and maintaining an API market of their own.

2. Mobile stops being an exclusive of the Marketing or IT departments

Not too long ago, the development of enterprise mobile apps happened predominantly in one of two ways:

  1. The IT department would create a mobile strategy (and maybe an app) based on stakeholders demanding devices and security around them
  2. A large department with a significant budget would heavily invest in one or two apps to support a large corporate project

During the second half of 2016, we started spotting a change through the conversations we held with clients and potential clients. Smaller departments are looking at the apps that have emerged across the organization and want their own. Following this emerging trend, we predict that next year, companies will see mobile dependencies and requirements arising from small departments, departmental functions and even project groups.

Many corporate workers, even the older generations, have now accepted the fundamental role of mobile at work and will expect IT or management to have a solution they can use with minimal technical disruption or intervention.

This is quite a challenge for companies (and their IT departments) trying to manage expectations on the cost and time resources required by app development, at the same time as they try to avoid conflicting solutions from sprouting all around the company.

We predict this mobile-goes-small-picture trend will continue to increase in 2017 and more departments will reach out to platforms that can cater to low-cost app building, like Fliplet.

3. Mobile rises to top-level priority

After a few years of being exposed to the ROI brought by small-scale mobile projects, some C-level executives are starting to put mobile in their organization’s strategic priorities. In 2017, we predict many firms, especially those within B2B, will centralize and establish actions on this priority.

What we will see as a result is the proliferation of Mobile Centers of Excellence or Mobile Steering Groups. This should effectively tackle the common business issue of nonexistent mobile strategy and disjointed use of apps.

Mobile Centers of Excellence will gather people from across departments with the mission of ensuring there’s a smoother path to apps being created and launched. Through a collaborative approach, MCoEs could guarantee that the apps created in the organization are as impactful as the departments need them to be but also secure and easy to handle for IT do as well.

4. Conversations about messaging and bots strategy

You’ve probably seen this a lot in the past few weeks, but we agree that businesses will start using chatbots on a wider scale

We don’t quite think they will kill websites or other kinds of mobile apps in the short or medium term (talking to a robot isn’t that engaging yet) but many organizations will find it extremely useful. Those who have a massive user base and/or those whose users have many needs in common that can be grouped together into common tasks that a bot can be trained to respond to efficiently. We’re thinking technical support, insurance claims and single-service solutions, for example.

It will be the case that some of these companies will either replace their mobile apps with chatbots or incorporate chatbots into their apps. Either way, the mobile app industry will see a shift next year.

If your company is not quite at chatbot stage yet, check out or Mobile UX 2017 predictions.

What do you think 2017 will hold for enterprise mobile apps?

We’ve listed our predictions above, and we can’t wait to come back to them in 12 months and see how we’ve done. We’d love to hear what you think the key trends will be in 2017 in relation to enterprise mobile apps. What are you top 3 predictions? Let us know below, or get in touch via any of social channels.

If you’d like to find out what we learnt in 2016 read our “lessons learnt” article, or if you’re interested to find out some of the key statistics from the past 12 months you’ll enjoy our infographic on enterprise mobile app statistics.