Enterprise Mobility Apps: When Is It Best to Build or Buy?
One of the top challenges facing mobile strategists is whether to buy or build enterprise mobility apps. Corporate employees need access to mobile apps and data to do their jobs – whether in the workplace, while working from home, or on the road. This includes field service workers, salespeople, project managers, marketers, and departmental managers. It can be tough to find commercial apps that meet the full spectrum of work behaviors and line of business requirements needed by employees in an organizational unit without putting the app through extensive (and expensive) customization to address those needs. Yet building custom enterprise mobility apps can also be time consuming and expensive. Plus, if you build a native app for a specific device (e.g. Objective-C or Swift for iOS), it’s not going to run on Android without being completely re-written in Java. There can be valid use cases for both approaches.
A B2B company that is looking to extend the existing functionality available in a desktop-based sales force automation tool for its sales leaders and salespeople with little or no customization required would likely be a good candidate for a mobile version of the commercial tool for its sales force. However, a field service team that follows company-driven processes and requires customized functionality regarding certain brands of equipment the company services would almost certainly benefit from developing a native app that’s designed to meet the specific needs of its field technicians.
One approach to address this problem is the use of hybrid apps which are commercial apps that can be wrapped and downloaded from an enterprise app store and delivered like a native app. Hybrid enterprise mobility apps can be protected with app wrapping, enabling administrators to apply specific policies to apps to impose a specific behavior and functionality based on that policy. These include security policies such as FIPS 140-2 encryption, copy/paste protection, corporate authentication, geo-fencing, and app disablement.