Even traditional software makers, including SAP, see mobile-app development as a less expensive way to connect customers with their larger-scale software systems.
Chris O’Connor and Dan McCall realized how expensive and time-consuming it was to develop mobile apps when they were working at Genentech, the cancer-drug maker acquired in 2009 by Roche Holding (ROG:VX).
O’Connor and McCall built about 60 custom apps to do such things as create a company directory or reserve conference rooms for employees. The pair co-founded startup Taptera after they realized other companies would also want to buy these types of apps.
Intuit has given its employees permission to create QuickBase apps, which are online database apps designed to collect and distribute information. So far, 3,500 of the company’s 8,000 employees have built their own QuickBase apps.
“We still see business teams at the work group or division level having some need that isn’t getting served and choosing to self-solve,” says Allison Mnookin, vice-president and general manager at Intuit.
One Intuit lawyer built a Web app to manage the process for submitting patents. The app made it easier for employees to submit ideas, distribute them internally for review, and get alerts about a reward for those whose ideas get patented.
“He did all of that without needing to know a line of code,” says Mnookin. “The pace of business is moving faster, and folks are looking for a way to solve their problems.”