THE BLOG

Is the App Economy Going to Boom, Go Bust or Both?

02/12/2014 13:49 GMT | Updated 31/01/2015 10:59 GMT

Increasingly, many businesses are hanging their hats on apps as a way of maximising the data in their existing technology systems to build new services. However, some recent reports are suggesting that apps are falling out of favour with consumers. In fact, according to one report from Deloitte, smart phone owners' appetites for new apps is declining, with almost one third of respondents not downloading a single app in a typical month.

But, rather than showing signs of weakening, the app economy is in fact displaying all the typical signs of a maturing and promising market. So how can these two contrasting viewpoints both be true? As with popular social networking sites and smart devices, consumer spending power and willingness to adopt new technologies paved the way for the tremendous growth app economy has witnessed to date. Now, however, with the rise of the citizen developer, and new revenue opportunities to be found, app development is maturing and moving beyond the consumer market. So, it's changing and maturing with business to business app developers showing they are ready to take the lead in driving innovation and growth in the app economy.

What does all this mean for the average employee? It means the workplace of the future is going to offer a vastly different experience, where digital apps and tools will impact on just about every aspect of the way we work.

An all-consuming case for business success

The consumerisation of IT has forced businesses to open up to new technologies and the most obvious high profile example of this is the proliferation of employee smart devices now being bought into the work place - commonly known as 'bring your own device' (BYoD). In line with this, technologies that boast social learning and collaboration through networks and forums have also gained huge popularity giving staff the ability, confidence and convenience of using to the same technology at home, out and about and in the office.

Smart businesses were quick to realise the real, tangible (and commercial) benefits of allowing staff to connect personal devices to the corporate network and developing and providing simple mobile apps for flexible and 'on the go' working.

Employees are also getting bolder - with many employees bypassing the IT department and writing the software they need themselves. In 2009 Gartner predicted that, by 2014, 25% of new business applications would be written by staff outside the IT department - or "citizen developers" as it called them. And the workplace is the ideal location for these enterprising employees to trial their innovations.

Forward-looking businesses will seize on this citizen developer trend to exploit all the creative, productivity and efficiency benefits it promises. They will start to equip citizen developer employees with clever tools that enable rapid application development to help them connect sophisticated data sets and use less code to drive more rapid innovation through apps, meaning employees will be able to make an app with only very basic knowledge of coding!

In addition, the future of B2B sectors contribution to the app economy will not just driven by citizen developers in the workplace. According to Vision Mobile, 16% of the application developers who target the enterprise market make five times more money than those who target the consumer market.

Are you ready?

According to Gartner's latest predictions, this new digital environment will profoundly change business processes along with employment demographics and a need for higher digital competencies across all industries. For example, by 2018 Gartner says businesses that have embraced digital will require 50 percent less business process workers but 500 percent more key digital business jobs, compared with traditional models.

With HR departments already planning for the entrance of Generation Z into the workplace - those born in the mid naughties - it's worth taking heed of the digital skills they will bring and will need. This generation, still currently at school, has had computer science written into its school curriculum and will greatly speed the use of apps and their creation in the future workplace.

The digital impact strongly signals that the app economy is far from dead. As with many economies it's going through a period of readjustments - finding out where its greatest assets lie (in creating business efficiency and new services) and exposing them to the market at the right time and in the right way.

What's truly intriguing is how and why this will impact our every day working lives. For many, it's time to start learning how to use the tools that will boost our digital CVs as we prepare for apps to rule the workplace.