Digital technology introduces remarkable opportunities, and it can generate huge gains and even transform an enterprise. But somewhere at the intersection of promise and value lies an enormous and growing challenge: managing the growing array of enterprise and mobile apps.
“There is a huge transformation taking place,” observes Bhaskar Ghosh, group chief executive at Accenture Technology Services. “Organizations are struggling to modernize their application frameworks.”
Most enterprises have a long way to go. In a 2016 Ponemon Institute report, 69 percent of the survey respondents didn’t know all the apps and databases currently active in their organizations. What’s more, as the cloud and mobility become even more entrenched—and the focus on speed and flexibility grows—the problem is going to get worse.
Yet, in addition to a spike in enterprise applications, CIOs increasingly struggle with shadow IT, rogue cloud applications and unauthorized mobile apps. Says Joseph Guarino, CEO of independent consulting firm Evolutionary IT: “Without a strategy and a governance model, the situation can become a mess.”
How can CIOs rein in the app sprawl? How can business and IT leaders ensure that employees can get their work done efficiently without compromising security—and without creating an IT administration nightmare? And how can organizations move to a next-generation software framework that fully supports digital IT and business?
“It’s a very different world from only a few years ago,” points out Accenture’s Ghosh. “So it’s important to have a strategy to migrate from legacy systems to a more advanced component-driven framework.”
Dealing With the Application Blues
Managing and maintaining the growing array of enterprise, cloud and mobile apps is taxing organizations of all shapes and sizes. In some cases, companies have hundreds or thousands of authorized and unauthorized apps in use. From an IT perspective, this results in higher costs, more time required to administer systems, security and regulatory challenges, and, in the end, diminished productivity.
“It’s not unusual for an organization to wind up spending double, triple or even four times as much as necessary because people are using applications that already exist within the enterprise,” Evolutionary IT’s Guarino reports. “Too often, departments and employees make independent decisions outside the scope of IT. Many of these applications also introduce regulatory compliance and security concerns.”
Mobile apps add to the challenge. It’s not uncommon for different divisions, groups and departments to develop mobile apps separately, or to offer different consumer-facing mobile apps for different customer segments. Such a scattershot approach can confuse users, diffuse an enterprise strategy, and lead to highly inefficient and often redundant development practices.
In addition, the lack of effective mobile device management (MDM) can open the door to additional security risks. Today’s BYOD strategies feed into the problem by making it easy for employees to drop data into an app or snap a photo of a document.
A huge problem, Guarino says, is the lack of a clearly defined framework for managing apps. “It often speaks to the limitations or dysfunction of an organization,” he says.