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This post is from the Apperian blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.

Last Updated Dec 29, 2014 — App Management expert

How to Calculate and Maximize the Value of Enterprise Mobile App Investments

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When considering the “return” on any investment one must consider the benefits and costs. It's simple really, a relationship in which the benefits greatly outweigh the costs leads to a positive return. Organizations who are finding success with their mobile deployments are able to maximize the utility and benefits of mobile apps and content, while minimizing the security risks of losing sensitive company data and the ongoing support costs.  For example, mobile apps that deliver tremendous value and are adopted by 100% of the potential user base with manageable costs and minimized security risks deliver the highest level of positive returns to their organization.

Tapping Into the Value Side of the Mobile ROI Equation

IT and business leaders are beginning to understand that enterprise mobility can provide them with a competitive differentiation, increased productivity, revenue gains, and reduced costs. As a result, the value side of the mobility equation – user utility, and the likelihood that employees will adopt critical business apps and use them – is becoming a greater focus. Organizations who drive the most success with mobility focus on three key areas:

1. Creating, curating or hybridizing one or more business critical apps

Organizations first need to deliver mobile apps that are critical for their employees to get work done. For example, apps that streamline order approvals for a sales team can reduce sales cycles and increase revenue. Other examples include field service apps, workforce management apps like time and attendance or scheduling, inventory lookup, product configurators, and even conference booking apps.

 2. Getting the apps into the hands of 100% of users

Getting critical business apps into the hands of all of the workers they are intended for is the point when the most value of those apps is realized. Imagine that your app is forecasted to save one hour a week per employee, and your target population is a field workforce of 1,000 employees who earn an average of $50K a year. That app has the potential cost savings of $1.2M a year. However, if you only could deliver the app to 75% of the population because you did not manage all the devices, and a poor user experience resulted in an adoption rate of 65%, only 48% of workers would utilize the app. That means over half of the projected value of the app is lost, significantly hindering the overall return on the original investment.

3. Simplicity in ongoing management of the apps

Finally, the quicker an organization can get apps into the hands of their employees by making it easy to find and install, the sooner you can begin to receive a return on the investment of the app. Further, best-in-class mobile organizations are able to provide instant support to their end-users, receive feedback from their users on the utility of the app, and review important usage analytics about the app. Those are key data points that help increase the quality of the app and overall future app adoption.

The Cost of Over-emphasizing the Cost Side of the ROI Equation

Not surprisingly, many IT organizations first reacted to mobility flooding into the enterprise – and especially BYOD trends – by trying to address the “risk” side of the equation first.  In many cases, IT organizations rolled out and mandated mobile device management (MDM) systems which essentially brought every mobile device under the control and domain of the IT organization, regardless if the device was owned by the company or not.  This approach enabled an organization to lock and wipe a device with the push of a button, so that if an employee’s device was stolen or compromised it could remotely destroy sensitive data. The problem with a device-centric approach to security is that it did little to encourage adoption and utility because employees who brought their personal devices to work did not like their employer having complete control over them. Device centric approaches also did not consider the extended enterprise, like contracted workers and dealer networks, which are comprised of devices that can’t be managed. By overly focusing on device security, organizations put themselves in risk of compromising the value that enterprise mobility can deliver to their organization and wasting a potential competitive differentiation.

Consider Both Sides of the Mobile ROI Equation

As you begin to structure your mobile investments to maximize the value that mobile apps can have at your company, its important to consider both sides of the mobile ROI equation. Create a strategy that provides fine-grained control of mobile data, integrates with your current security infrastructure, but also facilitates streamlined mobile application management and, most important, the adoption of critical business among 100% of your workforce.

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