Mobile applications are driving significant changes in how businesses function and strategize for the future. With the amount of mobile devices emerging in the consumer space, employees are increasingly looking to leverage this hardware for work purposes. This demand has led to a massive explosion in app usage, leading company-grade software to be created in order to circumvent inevitable shadow IT practices. However, as new considerations come up in the mobile market, some experts point to a slowing in app adoption in order to deal with issues and develop use cases for new technology. As more elements come into play, it will be integral for developers to be ready to reflect these needs in their software.

Going from sprawling to stalling
In many cases, it seems impossible to get away from the bring-your-own-device trend and the applications that come with it. Between the combination of business-approved software and consumer alternatives, organizations are contributing substantially to app development. However, according to a new McKinsey report, the uptake is starting to stall as users begin to take on problems caused by the initial program sprawl. This is amplified by the fact that 62 percent of businesses don't have a mobility strategy deployed throughout their company, making it more difficult to keep up with app demands. With nearly every department requiring a program for the processes, developers will have to effectively use component suites to deliver quality tools and establish a plan to foster a comprehensive mobile movement.

InformationWeek contributor Andi Mann noted that creating a unified approach to mobile operations will be critical to providing optimal customer service. With apps expanding without regulation, it can lead to too many inconsistent client experiences, which will affect retention and attrition rates as well as overall potential revenue. However, by establishing an app policy, employees can better engage consumers and contribute to business innovation.

"The goal is to help other business areas 'do' mobile apps right, rather than ban the applications they've developed," Mann wrote. "However, it may eventually be best for the company for one team to own mobile app development across the entire business. And absent a CDO, who better than IT to own this strategic function?"

Preparing apps for the next phase in data collection
In many business strategies, mobile apps are being used to gather, sort and analyze user information to help innovate current operations. By next year, a majority of mobile programs will be able to collect, sync and evaluate data, and wearable devices will contribute to half of all app interactions by 2017, according to recent predictions by Gartner. While many organizations have already put reporting tools in place to handle app information, many are still unprepared for the emergence of wearable hardware. Although much of this equipment is currently being used mainly for healthcare purposes, it's expected that wearable devices will find a place in work environments as a natural extension of other mobile hardware, enabling a more hands-off experience while still boosting productivity.

Gartner urges organizations to monitor access to their data, as well as manage the sharing, reuse and persistency of information collected from all mobile devices, including wearables. Through this approach, decision-makers will have better oversight into essential metrics and drive more regulated use to reduce chances for data loss and breaches.

"IT leaders should ensure they have infrastructure in place that takes into account data collected, not only via mobile apps, but also from apps running on wearable devices," said Roxane Edjlali, research director at Gartner.

She added that personal data is frequently not considered an asset because it's often only collected due to an app's requirements. However, this mindset can cause management to miss out on many competitive opportunities.

"Consequently, although this data is accessed and potentially stored in support of an app, it is not managed as a full 'citizen' of an enterprise's information infrastructure," Edjlali stated.