Mobile apps are a priority in search of a leader

Traditional IT vendors aren't leading with software, and businesses aren't hiring mobile leaders, according Appcelerator's survey

Even as mobile computing has become a top priority to executives, businesses lack internal leadership for mobile efforts, and the IT vendors they rely on, such as IBM and Oracle, aren't delivering on the mobile app front either, a newly released survey shows.

Appcelerator surveyed 770 "enterprise leaders," including CEOs, CIOs, and mobile application development managers, in November and December and released the results yesterday. Asked which traditional "mega-vendor" is showing leadership in mobile technology, 28 percent cited Microsoft, 15.8 said SAP, 10.8 percent said Oracle, 7.3 percent said IBM , and 4.6 percent said Hewlett-Packard. "Enterprises are used to looking to these guys for leadership" -- and not getting it, said Michael King, Appcelerator's enterprise strategy director.

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"This problem is exacerbated by fact that the enterprises at the same time are not hiring that leadership," King said. Companies have not hired chief mobility officers or vice presidents of mobility, nor have they set up mobile centers of excellence. Just 21 percent plan to establish such a center, and their timeline for doing so is unclear, King said. And 60 percent of companies have no such plans at all for such centers.

But they would be smart to do so: "Enterprises that have transformed to a mobile-first [perspective] have seen impressive results," King said. He cited Mitsubishi Electric, with a pricing and catalogs application that generated $30 million in sales in the first year.

Despite the lack of leadership within their companies and by their vendors, the survey respondents predicted that 2013 will be the year when the number of new homegrown mobile applications surpasses the number of new homegrown PC applications. The majority of respondents were planning to build at least five mobile applications this year; mobile development is also expected to outpace Web development.

Enterprise executives do view mobile applications as transformative and expected them to aid customer and employee relationships, competitive ability, revenue growth, and efficiency. But obstacles to achieving mobile success include scarce resources for mobile efforts, lack of technology standardization, lack of clear direction or strategy, need to integrate with enterprise data, and decentralized mobile efforts, the survey found.

Elsewhere in the report:

  • Nearly 50 percent of respondents believe that HP does not understand mobility, and 44 percent do not believe Oracle does, either
  • 81 percent predict traditional companies in mature markets will be disrupted by mobile-first startups
  • While mobile applications are ubiquitous in the consumer world, enterprises are just getting started: 73 percent of enterprises have built fewer than five applications, and 39 percent have none or just one
  • Fifty-five percent of companies rank mobility at the top or near the top of their priorities list
  • Apple's iOS and Google's Android are the top enterprise mobile platforms
  • 94 percent predict companies will invest in capabilities to connect mobile applications to the cloud and back-end systems
  • 66 percent plan employee-facing mobile applications
  • Mobile security remains a concern, especially authentication and authorization

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