Editor’s note: This post by Derek Singleton of Software Advice reviews more extensive work at: Three Ways Apple is Influencing Enterprise Software Development.
These days, apps aren’t just about amazingly addictive games like Angry Birds or streaming your favorite tunes from your Grooveshark app. As the working world becomes increasingly mobile, apps are becoming an important aspect of doing our jobs in better, simpler ways. To be fair, we’ve still got a long way to before we hit what some analysts are calling the “post PC world.” But it’s without question that enterprise mobility, and apps that help us get work done, is one of the hottest trends in enterprise software today.
Of course, this fact is not lost on enterprise software vendors. Everywhere, vendors are trying to build “an app for that.” As enterprise software vendors develop for mobile applications, they’re looking to the king of mobile – Apple – for inspiration.
I see three ways that Apple’s consumer tech innovations are influencing enterprise software development. Today, enterprise vendors are:
- Creating a mobile user experience that mirrors that of iOS.
- Building an ecosystem of mobile apps developers for their products.
- Selling their apps in their own enterprise marketplace.
Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, it’s hard to deny what Apple has done for user experience on mobile devices. They’re viewed by many as the gold standard for what a mobile user interface should look and feel like. The minimalistic and clean look is what helps make Apple iOS so intuitive to use and work with on a daily basis. Enterprise vendors are trying to replicate that level of elegant design and usability, looking to Apple as a template for how an application should work on a mobile platform.
A great example of how serious enterprise vendors are taking user design is SAP’s recent release of an iPad application for their Business ByDesign product. The app allows iPad users to access and analyze Business ByDesign sales and revenue performance data from a unified interface, with convenient graphical business intelligence features. It’s a far cry from previous mobile designs released by SAP and indication of the future direction of enterprise app design.
Beyond building their own apps, enterprise vendors such as Salesforce are also enlisting mobile developers to help them build out apps for their platforms. Creating an ecosystem of mobile app developers has been critical to Apple’s ability to produce the astounding number of apps currently available in the iTunes App Store. In the enterprise, it will be similarly essential to create a vibrant development environment to ensure that users have an appropriate selection of apps to choose from. Salesforce’s development community has already cranked out more than 1,300 apps – a feat that would have required many more Salesforce resources without an active development community.
To capitalize on the development talent they’re enlisting, enterprise vendors are also distributing these apps in their own enterprise marketplaces. NetSuite has set up a store called SuiteApps while Salesfoce sells their apps in their AppExchange market. Other vendors have similar stores are in the process of creating them. Salesforce is already beyond the 1,000,000 app download mark and they’re selling more and more each day. Acting as the distribution network is an easy way for vendors to generate a steady and reliable revenue source. In Apple’s case, they’ve made roughly $1 billion (given that they take a 30% cut on all sales) from simply selling apps other people made.
This all adds up to a decidedly different approach to mobile application development in enterprise. As enterprise software vendors develop for mobile applications, they’re taking a different approach to the way they design, develop and distribute applications.
But that’s just how it looks from where I’m sitting. What influence do you see Apple exerting on enterprise software development? Who are the other influences you’re noticing in enterprise mobility? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.