From June to August 2013, Forrester invited large and medium-size organizations in India to share details about their live enterprise mobility applications. Our objective was to understand how Indian organizations are leveraging mobile applications to better connect with customers, partners, and employees. In total, we received details of 59 mobile application projects from 41 organizations with more than 500 employees in India. These organizations are spread across verticals like manufacturing, financial services, automotive, media, healthcare, professional services, telecommunications, and utilities. Our research provided some interesting findings:

  • Mobile application development is skewed toward internal, employee-facing projects. Among the projects reviewed, 59% of the enterprise mobility applications have been developed for internal employees, 23% target customers, and the remaining 18% are for business partners. Most organizations in India are first developing applications for employees, because calculating the ROI is easier and more tangible for employee-centric applications as compared with customer- or business partner -centric applications. For instance, sales force/field force automation is currently the most commonly developed mobile application by Indian organizations.
  • The majority of projects are co-owned by IT and business. 71% of the enterprise mobility application projects we covered are jointly owned by the IT team and the relevant business stakeholders. Business inputs, especially on user interface and experience, are key to ensuring adoption of mobile application post-launch.
  • Application development is mostly outsourced. 56% of all mobile applications we studied were developed by an external vendor. This is because these vendors have the skills and expertise to code an application based on the layout, structure, and requirements specified by the joint IT and business team.
  • The average cost of application development is between US$40,000 and $160,000. The cost for developing 55% of the mobile applications was between $40,000 and $160,000; 23% of the applications cost less than $40,000, while the remaining 22% cost more than $160,000. This cost primarily consists of two parts: 1) development costs like application coding, user experience design, integration, and testing; and 2) operational costs such as licensing of mobile device management solutions and support and training costs.

Our research indicates that mobile applications will be a more critical channel for reaching consumer markets in Asia Pacific in the future compared with more developed Western markets. This is especially true in India, where the mobile Internet user base is growing at the rate of more than 30% annually, primarily due to the disproportionately young population (according to the UN, 27% of the population is between the ages of 15 and 29), reducing the average selling price of smartphones to below $200 and reducing the cost of data plans.

As a result, I&O professionals and their CIOs should broaden their mobility focus beyond employee enablement to include a greater focus on externally focused systems of engagement that can empower individuals to take the next most likely action, as it will help drive explosive growth in engagement.

My upcoming research report on enterprise mobile application adoption trends in India provides more insights into enterprise mobile application trends in India, highlights case studies, and offers recommendations to I&O professionals on how to build a successful mobile application strategy for their organization.