A recent post on TechCrunch caught my eye: App Monetization to Get Tougher Still, With Gartner Predicting 94.5% of Downloads Will Be Free By 2017. That title tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the state of the consumer-facing app market. It’s crowded, and it’s full of customers who want the best possible user experience—without paying a dime for it.
The story puts into clear focus the huge challenge facing enterprises: You have to keep developing top-notch native apps that rise above the noise, knowing fully well that they’re not going to be a revenue stream for the organization. It’s not an easy pill to swallow.
We believe the answer is a platform for developing apps that run natively across multiple operating systems and devices. It’s the only way to keep up the level of quality consumers expect without dumping too many resources into development time and specialized developer skills that are increasingly expensive and hard to find.
But there’s another perspective that this story doesn’t mention: the dramatic increase in demand for employee-facing apps. In a recent survey we conducted with IDC, nearly 40% of developers reported building employee-facing apps. While an enterprise might need a couple of apps for their customers, it could need dozens or even hundreds of apps for employees—and that’s where the revenue potential is huge.
Internal apps can give managers a fast, mobile way to approve expense reports on the go. They can give employees easy access to benefits and let them update personal information, sparing HR the time to handle requests manually. They can help sales reps close deals faster, and they can deliver training that gets new employees up to speed faster than before.
That’s why we’re seeing enterprises develop their own internal app stores for employees, and that’s why we think the trend will continue. Sure, you’ll still have to invest in the creation of great apps for customers. But the potential of internal apps to streamline processes and make employees more productive is where the real revenue opportunity lies.