How CIOs Can Boost Mobile App Adoption

Nearly 80 percent of mobile apps are abandoned after their first use, according to some reports. What can IT leaders do to keep that initial spike from plummeting after a couple of weeks?

CIOs with an eye on mobility have probably spent a small fortune creating a private enterprise app store. They've spent countless hours tending to an environment where business managers plant seeds for app ideas and developers bring those ideas to fruition. Often, the number of mobile enterprise apps sprouts like weeds.

Are these apps really benefiting the business?

To be truly useful, most apps have to be used regularly -- many are not.

"The typical adoption is a spike, followed by a dive after two or three weeks, followed by a very long tail," says Andrew Borg, founder and principal of eC3 Consulting. "There's a whole host of reasons why adoption doesn't meet expectations."

[Related: Where Mobile Apps Go Wrong ]

In researching his "Enterprise App Adoption" e-guide, sponsored by Apperian, Borg found an alarming number of homespun mobile apps with poor adoption rates. According to SAP, more than 78 percent of apps are abandoned after first use. This is part of the reason why the majority of mobile strategies stall, according to a recent Accenture survey of nearly 1,500 C-level executives.

Given the large bets being placed on mobile, a slip in mobile app adoption can quickly turn into a landslide. A recent Apperian survey found that more than 70 percent of respondents plan to equip more than 1,000 users with mobile apps. A third of respondents are deploying mobile apps to more than 5,000 users in the next two years.

[Related: CIOs Say Mobilizing Enterprise Apps Is Not That Easy ]

But a mobile app's adoption curve should have the opposite effect of a slide. "The initial spike in adoption should be followed by increasing growth given the positive feedback," Borg says.

How to Market to Mobile Users

A mobile enterprise app should be marketed to the employee user base before, during and after its launch. Far too often, though, an enterprise app lacks internal marketing, including social media efforts, to drive enthusiasm. As a result, the app withers on the adoption vine. Even though a company might be great at marketing to external customers doesn't mean it can automatically turn those skills inward.

In his eguide, which Apperian has made available for free, Borg offers some 20 tips covering the lifecycle of adoption to help apps avoid this fate. The Apperian survey found that mobile adoption also relies heavily on help desk support, a BYOD policy, tactics such as gamification, among other factors.

For instance, Borg recommends early usability testing to gain valuable feedback about how an app will be received. A CIO might also want to recruit someone from marketing.

"Working on mobile apps is cool and fun, and many people in your organization may be willing to lend a hand simply to gain some mobility experience," Borg writes in his e-guide. "A marketing person will bring a creative and communications or promotion-centric skill set to your project, and can help plan and execute the internal launch and rollout."

Don't forget to celebrate an app launch at a company event or, if it's a sales app, a quarterly sales meeting, Borg says. Follow the launch with social media and internal forums for users to provide feedback and increase app awareness. In fact, feedback is so valuable that a CIO might want to offer a monetary or recognition reward for it.

Measuring Mobile Results

And, of course, a CIO should employ analytics and reporting to measure success.

There is no question that mobile app adoption pays for itself in spades. For his e-guide, Borg interviewed numerous executives, including Sarah Weller, managing director of Mubaloo in London. Weller says she initially rolled out an enterprise mobile app to 20 sales people -- and people started talking.

"The buzz was created internally by giving it to such a small group," Weller says. "It got rolled out in stints, because it was built up so much internally, that everyone was desperate to have it, and as soon as they got it, they were using it all the time."

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