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'Mobile App Sprawl' Is Here. Is 'App Stall' Next?
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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
6/11/2014 | 10:28:16 AM
Mobile app strategy
Mobile app sprawl is an apt way to phrase the problem, Andi. I am not convinced you need a CDO to handle mobile strategy; in some companies the CIO and CMO are already working hand-in-hand as partners on mobile app stores for internal and external customers. Dell's CIO Andi Karaboutis, for example. You do need IT and marketing working closely or else you won't solve the problem.
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
6/11/2014 | 11:28:02 AM
Re: Mobile app strategy
From a marketing standpoint, it is so important to ensure that any apps that are available to end users do indeed reflect not just the overall branding, but more importantly, the user experience.  Many of these rogue apps are an easy way for unathorized third parties to collect information on users who are under the impression that these apps are provided by the corporation themselves.  On IOs, it's probably less of an issue due to the tight regulation, but in Android and other app stores, the risks are quite high.  Having a mobile strategy is going to be key for all corporations, and it makes sense to have IT and Marketing leading the charge.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/11/2014 | 12:53:47 PM
Span of control
What about all those external apps? Presumably using trademark law a company could crack down on third-party developers, but should they? Seems like a case-by-case call, and someone needs to be empowered to make that decision based on a set list of criteria.
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
6/11/2014 | 2:24:17 PM
Re: Mobile app strategy
@Stratustician - thanks for the comment, that is a really great point.


I only touched briefly on the security aspects of 'rogue' apps, but you have described a very real risk. There is certainly an opportunity for malicious actors to use these uncontrolled apps for phishing, malware, and even just personal data access for social engineering attacks. Another solid reason to make sure to take that strategiuc approach, as you said, and actively deal with these apps.

 
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
6/11/2014 | 2:36:44 PM
Re: Span of control
@Lorna, thanks for the comment.

Yes, the point is not always to shut down rogue apps. External developers can defintiely add value to your business, especially if they are 'fan' apps or provided added functionality.

Many businesses are starting to publish their own APIs, for exactly this purpose. For example, the multiple (better) API-connected client apps were a big part of Twitter's initial success (it even ended up buying one of them, Tweetdeck). New York City enabled a hackathon using published APIs that ended with multiple new apps that provided new information sources to assist users of the NYC mass transit.

But it is important to make sure these apps are a positive user experience, non-malicious, brand-compliant, etc. Businesses may even reach out to the creators to help them achieve this (e.g. with source files, API documentation, corporate imagery, UI guidelines).

Is it better to have good apps in the fold as part of a broader strategy than try to shut them down? On a case-by-case basis, as you say, I think so.
andimann
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
6/11/2014 | 2:44:38 PM
Re: Mobile app strategy
Thanks for the comment Laurianne, I think you are right.

A CDO is not neccesary to manage this issue, However, just by having a CDO shows that an organization has already been thinking about this, and has someone whose job it is to address it.

That does not mean other orgs are not thinking about it though. I also know many businesses with a 'digital-forward' CIO like Karaboutis who works well with a similarly digital-forward CMO and other Executive Leaders. This is, in my opinion, an ideal structure.

But it is going to vary by organization, and by the individuals in leadership roles. Some have different focus and expertise, and will not be able to get to this strategic approach without a CDO; but many will have CIOs, CMOs, and other ELT members who can take this on without adding another silo.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
6/11/2014 | 3:03:45 PM
Fewer apps, each with more functions?
So is the answer to have fewer apps with more functions per app - or even one app that represents all the ways a consumer can interact with your company? The trick there is it stops looking like an app and starts looking like a bad old PC-style application or a bloated web portal. Isn't app proliferation a natural consequence of the app style of development, prizing simple, focused, often single-function mobile software? The desire to fulfill that consumer preference runs headlong into our corporate drive to interact in many different ways.
andimann
IW Pick
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andimann,
User Rank: Moderator
6/11/2014 | 3:16:31 PM
Re: Fewer apps, each with more functions?
David, thanks for the comment. I have been thinking about this, and I am not yet convinced either way.

Like you say, a big monolithic app can bring with it the worst of the clunky old desktop paradigm - slow to update, more complex, heavy on resources, etc. But with Mobile DevOps techniques for application delivery, and attention to the important aspects of user experience, there are certainly ways to deliver it with a more agile approach.

On the other hand, lightweight and purpose-specific apps do risk all the problems with proliferation.

What to do? I think both ar actually viable approaches - the key is to make these choices intentionally, understanding the tradeoffs. I do think multiple lightweight apps can work, but it must be part of a bigger strategic approach to avoid many (if not all) of the risks of proliferation.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
6/11/2014 | 4:55:58 PM
Re: Span of control
A good example of a useful external app is "My Netflix Q." Because I don't do Netflix streaming I can't access my DVD queue using the official Netflix app. So I use My Netflix Q. It's a mediocre app but it makes good use of Netflix APIs and gets the job done. But as Andi mentions rogue apps much worse than My Netflix Q could spiral out of control and hurt the Netflix brand if Netflix doesn't keep an eye on app sprawl.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
6/11/2014 | 5:37:24 PM
Needed: a new guard at the gates
I wouldn't be surprised if someday mobile app scanners sit alongside firewalls at the perimeter -- at the API entrance gate -- and check for disreputable, suspicious, malicious or merely socailly unacceptable mobile applications that are trying to crash the party inside.
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