If and when Salesforce.com gets in this game, we'll see more hope of broad, deep mobile app adoption by IT. So far, the Salesforce1 effort doesn't seem to have born the promise mobile fruit, despite its strengths in mobile app development.
One issue is that IT organizations don't really have the resources or skills to develop good mobile apps; that's why so few get past lunch-ordering prototype apps. App developers can't make a living selling 99-cent and even $10 apps, so they tend to focus on offering complete service ecosystems that have mobile front ends, where they'll make real money.
That's a big investment for IT, and it often means ripping out back ends already in place. That's impossible at many organizations, especially when the new provider is an unknown startup. Instead, they wait for their existing vendors to "go mobile" at no cost or a low additional cost. Those vendors have little urgency to do the work since they already have the customer.
IT moves more slowly than technology because companies move slowly. Change is hard and expensive, and money rarely flows freely. Change is incremental until it reaches a tipping point. The mobile revolution of 2010 to 2012 was such a tipping point, dislodging a stable if moribund BlackBerry ecosystem with the iPhone and Android duopoly we now have.
But hardware is easier to adopt than software. Even though it feels like mobile apps have been mired, their adoption is proceeding at about the same pace as PC apps, as Web apps did, and as client/server apps did in their respective early days.
In some ways, the mobile revolution seems over, with devices having plateaued in innovation. But I think that mobile apps are still in the early days of their revolution -- at least I hope so! Incremental mobile innovation is certainly still occurring.
What both IT and users alike can do now while the mobile app revolution brews is to use today's many good apps more consciously and formally. IT should look for, test, and promote mobile apps that could help the business do better, whether as part of a formal portfolio review or as a set of "try these" adjuncts. If IT doesn't, users should do this.
Such an effort will expose the potential so often ignored of today's mobile apps. It will also get the creative juices flowing so that you can better push your application vendors to do their part.
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