Despite mobile accounting for as much as 75% of some companies' overall revenue (and even more for those with pure-play mobile models), many businesses are still underperforming in areas that can make or break their apps' success.
App stores, specifically, are influencing the way companies operate, considering their role as gatekeepers that stand between apps and their mobile users. This has resulted in mobile companies constantly scrambling to keep up with strict quality standards, changing technical requirements and growing pressure to release app updates more frequently — all to optimize their performance in the eyes of app stores.
Whether they're developing for the Apple App Store, Google Play or alternatives, everything Mobile DevOps teams do is ultimately in pursuit of two things: keeping app store rankings high and offering users an experience that will keep them coming back.
But many companies aren't able to keep up with the fast pace that app stores and their users demand, according to Bitrise's Mobile DevOps Assessment (MODAS) report, which gauges how more than 1,600 mobile teams' mobile app practices, processes and performance stack up to other businesses around the world.
The survey looked at the five key stages of the app delivery process — Creation, Testing, Deployment, Monitoring, and Collaboration — and identified three specific challenges:
Companies aren't releasing to app stores frequently enough to maximize consumer visibility
The speed and frequency at which companies release apps to the app store is critical, considering that it directly influences the app's ranking in mobile marketplaces. And an app's ranking directly influences how many users will see it, and therefore ultimately download it.
According to the report, high performers are releasing new app versions and/or features to app stores at least biweekly (21%) and top performers (11%) are releasing updates as frequently as once a week. Some companies (8%) are still only releasing new app versions once every 90 days.
A majority of companies (62%) admitted that their release frequency is lower than it should be.
This wide gap shows the range of maturity levels currently within the mobile industry. The companies that have the ability to release at least biweekly will have a much broader consumer reach, giving them significant competitive advantage over businesses with slower, less efficient processes.
How long does it take for a scoped feature to be deployed to the app store?
Manual, human-centric inefficiencies are slowing down companies' ability to deliver apps to consumers
Many companies are still running their app testing and approvals manually, forcing developers to take days at a time just to approve an app release.
The Mobile DevOps Assessment (MODAS) revealed that 44% of companies have release approval processes that are still predominantly or entirely manual, while only 9% have testing fully automated.
Manual processes significantly decrease efficiency and slow down release cycles — critical aspects for maintaining competitive advantage in the app store. Only 22% of teams say that they've been able to complete internal release processes in less than an hour, causing longer periods between app store releases.
While companies with manual processes are bogged down by mundane tasks such as physically managing hardware, the 9% of companies that are fully automated not only have a higher release cadence, but also are able to focus on innovation that keeps users coming back.
How frequently do you deploy new versions of your app to the app store?
Companies are allowing app bugs to continue for days after learning about them
When popular apps crash, glitches are usually fixed within the hour, but even that time span can feel like forever to consumers.
Now imagine that glitch taking over 24 hours to fix. Apps like Instagram and LinkedIn are high performers, but the MODAS shows that over 75% of companies still take more than two days to address bug fixes. In addition, only 21% of teams say that they have implemented some form of app performance monitoring to keep track of bugs.
The longer it takes for a bug to be fixed the more likely a user will give up on an app, either using it less or deleting it altogether. For this reason, app performance monitoring in the development process is essential to app store rankings and therefore app success.
How long does it take, when necessary, to release a bug fix after launching a new version of your app?
With Mobile DevOps still in its infancy there is a large opportunity for growth and improvement in the efficiency of release cycles. Once companies increase the frequency of their updates, whether it be bug fixes, technical upgrades, or new features, they will have significant competitive advantage in the app store.