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Significant app development backlog costs companies revenue, customers: report

A growing application development backlog problem is damaging revenue opportunities in the enterprise, with 85 percent of companies having a mobile backlog of between 1 and 20 apps, while 50 percent have a backlog of between 10 and 20 apps, according to a new report. 

The report, Mobile App Backlog is Directly Damaging Revenue in the Enterprise, reveals that one reason for the backlog is a lack of mobile developer talent, with only 6 percent of enterprises reporting they have the necessary staff. Other key findings include that 64 percent say the primary goal of their new apps is to generate revenue, 58 percent say it is to improve the experience of existing apps and 52 percent say it is to improve the customer experience. 

?A number of issues affect a user?s opinion of a brand, and today, the mobile experience is hugely important,? said Zahid Jiwa, vice president of OutSystems UK & Ireland. ?You really only have one chance to get it right with a customer. 

?Millennials, in particular, are technologically and financially savvy and can be fickle when it comes to brand loyalty,? he said. ?If the mobile experience is bad or if you don?t have a mobile app to engage with customers at the time they want it, they?ll go elsewhere to get the experience and facility they need.

The study surveyed enterprises in the United States and Britain. The research was conducted by Opinion Matters and sponsored by OutSystems. 

Numerous challenges
The average application takes between three and 12 months to get out the door, according to the report.

Organization are dealing with numerous challenges on the app development front, including multiple platforms to support, hundreds of change requests and complex backend integrations. 

At the same time, the demand for app developers is growing, making it a challenge for companies to hire the necessary talent. 

The skills shortage is already apparent, with 63 percent of respondents saying they had somewhere between 11 percent and 25 percent open vacancies for developers as a percentage of current team size while  29 percent had as high as between 26 percent and 50 percent open vacancies. 

With 99 percent of respondents indicating mobile is a top priority, there is growing demand for mobile apps. 
In the last 12 months, 51 percent of respondents have undertaken between one and five mobile app projects and 44 percent have undertaken between six and ten. 

Budgeting woes
Companies face numerous challenges when building mobile apps, with 53 percent naming budget as the top challenge, 50 percent time and 36 percent a gap in necessary skills for mobile. Additionally, 33 percent said users have unrealistic expectations, 25 percent said business has unrealistic expectations, 19 percent said not enough developers with the right skills are available and 17 percent saying the development environment is not right for mobile. 

Currently, nearly three quarters of the respondents reported having between six and 15 developers working on their mobile app initiatives, and a further 21 percent are using somewhere between 16 and 30.

Companies are interested in a variety of app development environments, with 33 percent preferring hybrid, 29 percent native and 22 percent HTML5/responsive design. 

In terms of specific skills, 31 percent said Java is the skill they have the hardest time hiring for, 19 percent named JavaScript and 17 percent said .NET.

One way companies can address the challenge is to adopt low-code platforms, which  are designed to speed up the process of building and deploying custom apps by eliminating the need for low-level coding.

OutSystems is one of the companies that offers a low-code platform. 

?Companies should look to enable their existing IT teams to deliver apps without having to learn new languages and skills,? Mr. Jiwa said. ?These days, there are low-code platforms available, so that anyone can rapidly develop robust, highly functional mobile applications without having to learn new coding skills.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York