Enterprise mobile apps enable organizational transformation and have become essential tools for any company seeking operational efficiency. A new Aberdeen research brief, “Enterprise-Grade Mobile Apps -- Powering Organizational Transformation,” provides some hard data to support the assertion that mobile apps now qualify as business-critical technology.

Aberdeen report data shows that enterprise mobile app users are clearly focused on the operational efficiency gains mobile apps can provide -- a leading 42 percent of respondents said the need for operational efficiency improvement was a top pressure driving mobility adoption. This narrowly beat out the belief that employee-facing mobile apps will provide competitive differentiation (41%), with an increasingly mobile workforce (33%) coming in third.

Only 30 percent of respondents to an April 2012 Aberdeen survey cited operational efficiency as a top driver for mobility adoption, demonstrating that companies are viewing mobile apps as a core driver for improving operational efficiency rather than as a way of mobilizing existing assets.

In addition, 38 percent of respondents to the December 2012 survey said their mobile software initiative (MSI) is a core driver of internal process realignment, up from 29 percent in a 2011 survey. This made internal process realignment the second-most-popular MSI strategy behind improving communication and collaboration (61%), up from sixth-most-popular in 2011.

It is also interesting to note no other top MSI strategy experienced any significant change in popularity between 2011 and 2012, while the number of respondents selecting internal process alignment climbed 32 percent.

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Best in Class Mobile App Users Distinguish Themselves 

Aberdeen grouped survey respondents into three groups -- Best in Class (top 20% of performers based on select KPI results), Industry Average (middle 50%) and Laggards (bottom 30%). The three select KPI results used were time-to-information (frequency of access to business-critical data within required timeframe), workload on mobile device (average percentage of daily workload performed via mobile device) and change in operational efficiency (on year-over-year basis).

Analysis revealed that 88 percent of Best-in-Class respondents successfully gained access to business-critical information within the required timeframe, 10 percent more than the 80 percent of Industry Average respondents and almost three times the 29 percent of Laggards who did so.

Best-in-Class respondents distinguished themselves even more in the KPIs of workload on mobile device (performing an average of 56% of their daily workload via mobile device, compared with 22% of Industry Average workloads and 12% of Laggard workloads). Furthermore, Best-in-Class respondents saw an average 40 percent improvement in year-over-year operational efficiency, close to four times the average 11 percent improvement experienced by Industry Average respondents. Laggards saw no change in year-over-year operational efficiency.

Considering these results, it’s not surprising that 62 percent of Best-in-Class respondents have an MSI in place, compared with 46 percent of all other respondents. In addition, Best-in-Class respondents deploy an average of 14.5 mobile apps, not that much more than the 12.5 deployed by Industry Average respondents but well ahead of the 5.9 deployed on average by Laggards. 

Apple Apps Most Often Deployed

Looking at app platforms deployed by all respondents, the report finds that Apple apps are the most frequently deployed, with 63 percent currently deploying iPhone apps and 61 percent currently deploying iPad apps. Google Android smartrphone apps are not far behind, with 55 percent of respondents currently deploying them. Fifteen percent of respondents have plans to deploy both iPhone and iPad apps in the next 12 months, while 17 percent plan to deploy Android smartphone apps.

Fewer respondents currently deploy Google tablet apps (40%), but a healthy 23 percent plan to. Other platforms with relatively low current deployment levels but high levels of planned deployment include Microsoft Windows Phone (26% current/25% planned) and Microsoft Surface Tablet (8% current/ 35% planned).

Blackberry does not appear to have a strong future as a platform for enterprise mobile apps. A respectable 49 percent of respondents currently deploy Blackberry apps, but only 5 percent plan to do so in the next 12 months. The Blackberry Playbook tablet fared poorly both in terms of current (15%) and planned (6%) enterprise app deployment. Aberdeen notes the survey was conducted before the release of the Blackberry BB10 platform.

Aberdeen conducted an online survey of 348 organizations in more than 35 countries about the state of enterprise mobile apps during December 2012.