There's a lot of talk in IT and vendor circles about the need to manage mobile applications, and there are a lot of tools to let in-house and commercial developers alike add control mechanisms around access, usage, and compliance to mobile apps, both native and HTML5. But there are actually very few such apps to manage or control. The bottom line is that IT organizations and their vendors are not developing, porting, or making accessible traditional applications to mobile users.
I've been hearing about that paucity for more than a year. That sad state was confirmed yet again this week by a mobile security firm MobileHelix study that shows that only 22 percent of corporate apps can be accessed by mobile devices, yet 87 percent of users want mobile acess to the 400 or so corporate apps an average enterprise works with. "Access" includes simply via a mobile-friendly Web portal. When you realize that more than half of enterprise apps are Web apps, the fact that only 22 percent of corporate apps can be used on a mobile device is even scarier -- nearly all those Web apps could be adapted to smartphone and tablet usage while remaining Web apps.
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For vendors, the data are worrisome because it means there aren't that many IT customers for their mobile app creation and management wares. For users, it means they can't be as productive when on a mobile device, which in turn limits business effectiveness and flexibility. For IT, it likely means further irrelevance, as users find commercial apps or build their own departmentally -- in a return to the "departmental computing" phenomenon of the late 1980s and early 1990s that saw dBase programmers in every department.