Many enterprise apps are not reaching their intended market

The market for enterprise apps is skyrocketing and many developers are starting to focus on this area. However, most enterprise apps available in popular app stores today are not meeting the core enterprise needs, according to research2guidance, a mobile industry research firm.

Research2guidance surveyed more than 500 enterprises around the world and found that the vast majority (80 percent) were using mobile apps at the end of 2011, up from 10 percent in early 2009. The firm said the majority of these companies are sourcing their apps through internal or external app development projects. They only look to public app stores as a secondary approach for sourcing mobile apps.

Chart courtesy of research2guidance, 2012

Nevertheless, both established enterprise software vendors and mobile-only app developers have been targeting this segment by publishing "off the shelf" enterprise apps and distributing the apps in general app storefronts. As a consequence of the increased development effort, the number of enterprise-relevant apps available in app stores has doubled in the past year, up from 100,000 in the first quarter of 2011 to 200,000 in the first quarter of 2012. 

Yet the firm found that the apps are available in a wide range of app store categories, which makes it hard for enterprise customers to find products that have high value to their businesses. The apps also vary widely in their ability to address core enterprise needs.

Research2guidance identified four categories of enterprise apps in app stores. Those that have the highest value are "core enterprise apps" but these represent just 14 percent of enterprise-related products. These are apps that provide core enterprise software functionality and completely lack features or functions needed by private consumers.

About 37 percent of the apps are designated as "business tools" and have medium value. These apps offer productivity-enhancing features that can be used by both enterprises and consumers. 

Another 33 percent are apps that are referred to as "business contingent apps." These apps, which can include foreign language or business terminology references, can provide solutions for specific businesses or business segments but they are not exclusively for business and are considered low value.

Another 16 percent of apps are categorized as "irrelevant/misplaced." These are apps like ringtones that distributed in a business app category but have very little or no value to an enterprise or businesses.

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