When it comes to games, entertainment, and social media, there’s always an app for that -- usually many more options that you actually need. 

It makes sense that we're saturated with consumer applications because we’re all consumers in one way or another, but even considering this, the market for enterprise apps is woefully behind in comparison.

For example, the iTunes business is growing at approximately 34 percent year-over-year, with apps being a large part of that mix. And in the paid app space, almost 90% of apps are consumer-driven - leaving just 12% of paid apps targeting the enterprise.

So where’s the love for B2B apps? Despite the increasing usage of mobile devices in the workplace and the fact that enterprise apps earn up to 4x that of consumer apps, the B2B app market is still lagging behind.

If we’re all hot for the latest bird app, shouldn’t we be motivated about developing apps that make us more productive where we spend a third of our waking hours?  If you're considering developing an app, then the underserved B2B environment is prime real estate for establishing yourself with a untouched niche. 

Flappy ERP and Candy Quickbooks doesn’t sound as sexy as a consumer-facing app, but here's a few things to think about as your company considers creating a B2B app.

Why Aren't There More Enterprise Apps?

There are two core reasons why enterprise apps aren't more prevalent. First, enterprise anything is not as sexy as consumer anything. Second, the idea of an application is fairly new, so a critical mass adoption of apps has yet to occur.

The reasons companies haven't entered into the enterprise app game yet may include many of the common reasons indicative of an industry that doesn't understand the full value of that technology:

  • Lack of understanding about how to develop an app
  • Lack of resources
  • Concerns about ROI
  • IT efforts focused elsewhere
  • Legacy systems don’t integrate well with mobile
  • Difficulty in adapting quickly to new technology

A lot of these same early concerns were showered on now-common marketing strategies such as using Google Adwords, social media advertising, and SEO. Today, if you're a large company and you haven't considered Google ads, SEO, and Facebook, you would appear crazy.

Improved responsiveness with mobile apps

And there are good reasons to get started sooner than later: 76 percent of businesses say they see improved responsiveness and decision making with mobile apps. More than half of B2B purchase decision makers use a tablet for research, and more and more employees are being permitted to bring their digital devices to work.

All this equates to a large space of opportunity. 

Businesses are Already Developing Apps

Enterprise apps are here to stay, so there's a lot of opportunity and not a ton of risk dipping your toes into the water. Despite being under-represented, there has been a lot of movement in the B2B app market. According to this research, there will be four times the number of mobile application development projects targeting smartphones and tablets compared to native PC projects by 2015.

And 71 percent of companies are currently discussing custom app development. Another study says that almost 75 percent of companies involved in app development are focused on consumer apps. So 3/4 of those already developing apps are not creating apps for the enterprise.


This is one of those “who wants to be first” situations: you can either wait until everyone’s in the mobile app game and play catchup, or you can be a frontier-forger and start the party yourself. 

There are existing examples of successful enterprise applications. There are plenty of big names out there, and you probably have downloaded a few onto your tablet. Dropbox, Skype, Evernote, LastPass, and Docusign are all companies that started out on the web, but took their services and adapted it to a mobile application with emphasis on business.

Many of the big players already have their own app eco-system and development platforms. You're well aware of Apple's iTunes and Google Play, but did you know that other well-known companies such as Amazon and Salesforce (ahem) also have app platforms? 

The Internet of Things: The Future of All Apps

The way we are familiar with apps now will be different with how we interact with apps in the future. Just another reason to jump in now. 

One exciting frontier we’re just now embarking on, especially as it relates to B2B opportunities, is what many call The Internet of Things.  “Things” in the sense that there’s no one industry that it focuses on, IoT is the idea that everything will connect with everything... and you guessed it, usually through an app.

We’re already seeing it creep into the consumer space, with products like FitBit and Nest connecting our actions and behaviors to online data. With the Internet of Things, you'll need an app that will connect your product or service to other products and services.

Imagine what your brand could do with the data management that the Internet of Things devices provide, and how you could increase adoption of your product as users become connected to the Internet at work, while commuting, at the gym, at home, or on vacation.

Industries like retail, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, and clean tech offer some of the biggest opportunities for growth with the Internet of Things. Want proof that B2B is succeeding with it? There are already brands using it for:

  • Oil pipeline monitoring
  • Closed circuit television
  • Smart utility metering
  • Fleet management
  • Predictive maintenance

We’ve only just begun to dig into how B2B applications can be used to connect to users in more meaningful ways, as well as provide valuable data for analysis.

How Can You Leverage Enterprise Apps?

Start by using them. There are productivity, finance, marketing, and sales apps that can help your staff do more. Right now? Approximately 80% of employees are using unapproved apps at work -- clearly there's a need to fill in that gap.

Consider how building your own app may change the ways your customers, prospects, and employees experience your product/service  If done in the right way, an app will also provide additional revenue streams.

Enterprise apps

After all, if you already sell software, you’re a step away from an app. If you don't sell software, think about how an app can expand the way you currently do business.

The thing is, customers are already expecting you to have an app. If your customers wondering where your app is, you don’t want to just meet their expectation, but you want to be ahead of their needs.

Enterprise apps are used for a variety of functions, but some of the more common uses are:

  • Project management
  • Email and lead nurturing
  • Customer retention
  • Event management
  • Sales tools
  • Human resources
  • Customer service

If any of these make sense for you, it just might be time to get into the enterprise applications game.

Think of how a simple game like Flappy Bird succeeded in a over-saturated consumer app marketplace, and you'll have context for the huge opportunities in front of you for developing your own enterprise app.

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