According to IT industry research firm, Gartner, by the end of 2017 market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organisations' capacity to deliver them.
Gartner forecasts mobile phone sales will reach 2.1 billion units by 2019. It says this will fuel demand for enterprise apps that meet the high performance and usability of consumer apps.
Gartner principal research analyst, Adrian Leow, said enterprises find it a challenge to rapidly develop, deploy and maintain mobile apps to meet increasing demand, because it is exceedingly difficult and costly to hire developers with good mobile skills.
"Organisations increasingly find it difficult to be proactive against competitive pressures, which is resulting in their mobile apps becoming tactical, rather than strategic," said Leow.
A Gartner survey on mobile app development conducted in 2014 found the majority of organisations had developed and released fewer than 10 apps. A significant number of respondents said they had not released a single mobile app.
Leow said: "This is an indication of the nascent state of mobility in most organisations, with many questioning how to start app development in terms of tools, vendors, architectures or platforms, let alone being able to scale up to releasing 100 apps or more. … We're seeing demand for mobile apps outstrip available development capacity, making quick creation of apps even more challenging.”
He added: "Mobile strategists must use tools and techniques that match the increase in mobile app needs within their organisations."
Gartner says that organisations must develop ways of prioritising app development."Mobile development teams are overstretched and have difficulty effectively delivering the growing number of mobile apps in their queues. The result is apps being built on a first-come, first-served basis, with the line of business making the most noise having its needs met first."
It says this lack of value-driven prioritisation “leads to inefficient use of IT resources and a degradation in the quality of apps delivered.” It also advices businesses to “Use development tools that can produce apps more rapidly … to help bridge the gap between mobile app demand and supply,” and to outsource mobile app development.
“Maintaining a pure in-house development environment is difficult to achieve given mobile is a relatively new competency to many developers,” Gartner says. “It entails many complexities and specific activities, such as user experience design and psychology or cellular coverage testing, which may be more efficiently handled by an outsourced third party experienced in mobile app development.”
Gartner believes organisations will improve their in-house mobile development skills over time, but says that only 26 percent of organisations are adopting an in-house-only development approach, and 55 percent are using mixed sourcing.
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