Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) Blog

The Top 4 Mobile Challenges for Enterprises


In the last several months, we at Kinvey have talked to nearly a hundred enterprises about their mobile strategies.  One common theme has emerged.   A VP at one tech company, which has solved generations of business problems, summed up their clients’ condition thus:

“Mobile is a mess!”

A mess?  Why?  All enterprises want to do is let their executives and employees do business with whatever they have in hand:  pen, paper, laptop, iPhone, Nexus, Galaxy, iPad, Surface.   Not so simple, it turns out.  Here are the top four challenges impeding the mobile transformation of enterprises:

1) The rapid pace of change has surprised everyone.    The growth of mobile has been “unprecedented” according to Forbes, which said tablet sales would increase by over 50% in 2012, and expected four times more mobile application development projects than native PC projects by 2015.  When employees hold a tablet, they see the seductive space of a laptop screen, and they expect a similar PC-level functionality.  One SaaS provider described spending the day with 30 IT people from an insurance company, in a conference room, begging him to optimize their service for a tablet.   (A low-tech but also important driver, it turns out that employees who travel a lot love tablets because they can leave them in their bags at security.)

So IT departments and SaaS providers all are racing to build the links and APIs and UX/UI that gets their data into the apps that function beautifully in these new mobile environments.

2) Past Investment Controls Future Ones.   Enterprises have invested billions in certain databases and development frameworks and APIs.  They also have invested in people who are trained for these systems.  One global consulting firm told us that they were going to invest heavily to build mobile apps to help their thousands of employees world-wide to approve expenses, find promotions, and much more.  But because their entire internal IT team was a Microsoft shop, all mobile apps would have to use the same platform their existing team knew how to work with, and how to keep secure.

3) API Spaghetti.   Every development agency of every size told me this:  enterprises almost always require them to reuse code when building new apps.  The problem is that often the desired mobile app needs data feeds that differ from the existing sources, and using them requires new code just to build the bridge to make the old code work.  Apparently the quality of the old strands of code varies dramatically.  There’s a heavy price – in time and treasure – for fixing the old code and making it work with the new.   Sometimes it’s easier to build a new house than renovate one.

4)  Skills shortage.   You try to find an Android/iOS developer with time on her hands.  They are really busy building all of those mobile application projects that Forbes predicts will dominate 80% of development projects by 2015.

No doubt, the future of enterprise belongs to mobile.  But the past will guide it.

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