Scorecard for Mobile App Platforms

By Chris Marsh, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Mobility, Yankee Group — July 28, 2013

Back in March I wrote about how companies were increasingly looking to mobile applications like CRM and SFA as strategic to their business. Our survey data showed how those having deployed these apps report a wide range of performance improvements across different workflows.

I also wrote about how important it was for companies to measure these impacts and work towards understanding a more holistic ROI, not just the TCO of their investments.
Since then we have gone a step further and surveyed samples of paying enterprise customers of 10 different mobile application platforms — Adobe Phonegap, Antenna Software, Appcelerator, IBM Worklight, Kony, Salesforce, SAP, Sencha, Spring Mobile and Xamarin.
We have used a series of direct and indirect metrics compounded into single ROI scores, to understand which deliver the best ROI to their adopting enterprise customers. The full scorecard results will be released next month, but there are several interesting data points already coming out the analysis.
Ignore ROI at Your Own Risk
Less than half of all companies (43%) actually specifically calculate the ROI of their application platforms, using metrics and KPIs. The majority simply estimate it, with a small minority not measuring it at all.

This is despite the fact that 69% rate the platform as either the most or one of the most important tools to develop and deploy applications.
And, this is also in light of 40% of enterprises saying they have used their platform to develop more than 10 apps, with two-thirds having used their platform for more than a year. In addition to their platform, companies are also using a variety of other tools — inlcuding mobile OS SDKs, connectivity platforms, front-end development tools and independent software vendors’ middleware platforms.
So while the majority of companies don’t currently specifically calculate their platform ROI— they should. Digging a bit deeper, there is also a clear correlation between the leading platforms and the degree to which their customers are calculating ROI.
Enterprises who specifically calculate their platform ROI typically give the highest compound scoring for their platform provider.  Among  the leading vendors in the research, upwards of 50-60% of their customers do specific ROI calculations. This compares to around only 35% of the customers of the platforms that rate less highly.
The same correlation is particularly apparent among some of the individual metrics —  those platforms with customers typically calculating their ROI get higher compound scores and higher individual marks such as for their Net Promoter Score.
These differences cannot be explained by differences in the company profiles or mobilization priorities. By and large they were consistent across our sample in terms of the breadth of company sizes, verticals, the amount of time they had being using their platform and what they were doing with it —whether creating custom or using off-the-shelf apps and whether they were focusing on B2B, B2C or B2E workflows.
TCO - Not Good Enough Anymore
It’s in the best interests of enterprises to work on understanding quantitatively how they can measure —through a metrics framework —the gains they might be experiencing in improved employee and partner productivity, customer engagement, revenue growth and operating margin.
It is also in the best interests of the platform providers to help their customers do this. They can do this directly by providing KPI templates themselves for the different application use cases.
Additionally they should work to deliver more directly evident automated workflows such as automated application testing, code compatibility calculators and in-app analytics, and by enabling faster time to deployment, more engaging UIs for stronger user adoption, and cloud deployments for more flexible user access.
Chicken or The Egg
We are doing more work with the data to understand how much measuring ROI is the chicken or the egg, and will publish both the scorecard and the wider results soon. In the meantime it’s evident that the old adage is true — you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
Most companies are at the stage of trying to move from having been opportunistic in their mobile projects to being more strategic. This won’t appear out of nowhere. Imperative in this transition will be trial and error, and the ability to iterate towards success by measuring your wins and losses.
So, if you want to make the most of your investments look for platforms with the functionality, flexibility and adaptability for you to efficiently measure the output, and work across your business to create relevant metrics against which to really measure success.

Additional Content from Chris Marsh:
Consumer App Wave Floods Business
Top 10 Enterprise Mobility Myths Busted
Mobility is Paying Off


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