In the last few days, there’s been some talk over at Forbes about why consumer-targeted app solutions just don’t cut it for enterprise scenarios. And, while this shouldn’t be a secret to those of us who work with mobile—after all, the consumer- and enterprise-populations have entirely different needs, use-cases, etc.—I was shocked at the number of conversations I heard coming out of the community in response.

It seems that many businesses, both those that create mobile apps and those that use them, favor consumer-targeted apps because 1) they’re cheaper/free, 2) they do a “good enough” job, and 3) they’re cheaper/free. While bottom line is always a consideration in software adoption, Michael DeFranco argues that businesses should always adopt the enterprise version of an app. Here’s why:

  1. Complexity: Enterprise-focused apps are engineered to deal with the complexity of a workplace. While Facebook Messenger or VenMo may seem like adequate communication and payment solutions respectively, neither is designed to scale, to become visible for partners, to keep records and sync with payment servers. What seems like a cheaper solution actually creates more work in many scenarios.
  2. Scale: While previously mentioned, scale deserves a section of its own, for obvious reasons. While consumer apps can crush it for individual users—because, never forget that any consumer app is targeted at exactly that, individuals—businesses thrive on shared information, on the quickest and simplest version of workflow transparency, and consumer apps can’t provide that. Sure, you can copy all the work you’ve done, export it to a spreadsheet, share that spreadsheet with your colleagues, etc., but really, that’s a lot more work than needs to be done. Enterprise apps are typically designed to sync with complimentary software—the way ScanBizCards Enterprise syncs with SalesForce, SugarCRM, and others—so that the app does the work, not you.
  3. Design Focus: This may seem like common sense, but it’s worth spelling out: consumer apps are not designed with business’ problem points in mind. A consumer app with focus on consumer needs—convenience, entertainment, making an individual life easier—but they’re not designed to solve a business’ problems, things like security and accountability. Businesses operate through internal transparency and workflow, and consumer apps just aren’t designed to provide that.

Though it’s tempting to adopt that cheaper consumer-app that everyone in your business already uses, think twice. While it may seem to address the need at the time, DeFranco claims that most businesses find that these are short-term solutions at best. The reality is that consumer solutions in an enterprise environment create more work, provide less security and accountability, and will likely hurt more than they’ll help. It’s just something to consider.

What’s your favorite enterprise app?

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