In the early days of mobile apps, the prevailing wisdom was that people would consume content, but not create it, on their mobile devices. "Who would want to do complicated, multi-step processes on a smartphone's tiny screen?" lots of folks asked. But then came tablets, phones with larger screens and, most important, people who went ahead and began using their devices for all kinds of functions.
In the enterprise, these trends have resulted in companies creating more custom applications for their employees.
In March I wrote about a CDW survey that found a big growth in mobile app budgets, for both custom mobile business apps and off-the-shelf mobile apps. The two types of apps were nearly neck-in-neck in terms of popularity, as the survey found businesses on average had approved six off-the-shelf mobile apps for employee use and five custom mobile apps.
I also cited a Good Technology survey of enterprise mobility activity from 2014's third quarter that saw a quarter-over-quarter increase of 107 percent in companies' use of custom mobile business apps and year-over-year growth of 730 percent.
In its latest Mobility Index Report, released today, Good Technology found that total app activation grew 160 percent over the past year.
Top Mobile Apps for Business
Secure browser was the top mobile app for business, for the second quarter in a row, according to the survey, which Good Technology attributed largely to increasing demand for secure access to company intranets. It represented 21 percent of all mobile apps deployed.
Secure instant messaging took the second spot, followed by custom apps, document editing and document access. Document access and editing showed the fastest growth among mobile apps, jumping 68 percent and 51 percent during the last quarter, respectively.
Secure messaging and document editing indicate more willingness to do types of work that might have been confined to the office in the not so distant past, in my opinion. In addition, many custom workflows will obviously require document access and/or editing.
Good Technology singled out the insurance industry as a heavy adopter of custom mobile business apps, noting that 34 percent of all apps activated by insurance organizations in Q1 were custom apps. It mentioned two intersecting trends leading to this growth: an influx of new methods for claims processing and other key business processes, and a heavy reliance on complex business logic contained in multiple legacy systems.
Good Technology broke out a few other trends regarding vertical industry adoption of mobile apps:
- Secure messaging was the top mobile app for financial services firms, accounting for 27 percent of all mobile app activations.
- Business and professional services companies were keenly interested in working with documents. Document editing, which made up 26 percent of all mobile apps deployed, was the top category, followed by secure browser and document access.
- The manufacturing industry showed the least interest in custom mobile apps. Forty-seven percent of all mobile app activations in manufacturing involved secure browser access.
Mobile OS and Device Trends
Good Technology noted few significant changes in the operating systems and devices used to access mobile apps.
Apple's iOS accounted for 72 percent of all mobile device activations, a 1 percent drop from the previous survey. Android came in at 26 percent of activations, while Windows and Windows Phone each had 1 percent of device activations.
High tech and energy were the two verticals with the highest Android adoption numbers for mobile, with 47 percent and 44 percent, respectively, of their mobile devices running Android apps.
Apple and Samsung sold the top two most popular mobile devices, the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5, respectively. In fact, the two companies dominated the mobile device category, with 28 of the top 30 devices in the survey.
There was more movement in the tablet category, Good Technology found. While iOS accounted for 81 percent of tablet activations, that number was down from 92 percent a year ago. Android had 15 percent of tablet activations and Microsoft had 4 percent, the latter category buoyed by tablet activations in the retail sector.
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.