Earlier this year, I was having a business dinner with an important client in London when I received an IM on my iPhone. The message was from a Cisco colleague, and it said, “I need you to approve a purchase order. Right now.”

So I stepped away from the table, launched an app on my iPhone, read the purchase order, and clicked “approve.” Then I returned to my seat and went back to our dinner without missing a beat. The whole process took maybe two minutes.

Just a few years ago, this transaction would have required a laptop tethered to the network in a hotel or office, and it would have completely disrupted the dinner.  This pace of change, leveraging mobility solutions, across IT is unprecedented.

Why are so many businesses turning to mobile enterprise apps? According to Gartner, more than 25 percent of enterprises will have an app store by 2017. Mobile apps are making the promise of BYOD a reality. People love their apps and the highly personalized experience they deliver. By bringing their own devices to work, people can enjoy their work more, use the devices they choose, and do their jobs better and faster—from anywhere. According to Cisco’s latest study, the Financial Impact of BYOD, they can also be more innovative and productive.  At Cisco we firmly believe that work is a thing you do, not a place you go. 

These productivity solutions are evolving from communication and collaboration to handle business transactions like approvals, expense reporting, and sales support. We’re seeing IT groups collaborating and partnering with users to truly mobilize these day-to-day transactions to realize true business value.

What’s the key to building a good app? At Cisco, we focus on three things – solving a business problem, delivering a superior user experience, and making security transparent. If it’s not fast, easy, and intuitive, people won’t use it. But if you get the experience right, you don’t need to worry about adoption or ROI.

What’s in store for the next wave of enterprise apps? As people and devices get more connected, and the network becomes more intelligent, we’ll see apps that are more location-based and context-aware. Using the intelligence in the network, an app would understand where you are, and proactively deliver the content or services you need.

So if you’re a salesperson, a location-based app could detect when you’re visiting a customer’s office, and pull up that customer’s sales history on your iPad for quick reference. It might even “suggest” a list of new products or support services to sell when you walk into a customer’s office.

Rich media will play a more important role in mobile apps as well. Video now makes up most of mobile traffic, and future generations of mobile apps will also use network intelligence to power object recognition. Point the camera on your mobile device at a person or object, and the network could respond with more information, or launch another app or process. It won’t be long before you can take a picture of an item in a shop, and an app will recognize the object and alert you if there’s a cheaper option.

At Cisco, enterprise apps all have one thing in common: they’re all designed to save time or make a business process easier. How could a mobile app help your employees work more effectively when they’re on the go? Post a comment and let us know.





Brett Belding

Senior Manager

Cisco IT Mobility Services