Need to fix a business process? There’s probably an app for that

November 11, 2014, 9:52 PM UTC
contract Armin Harris. Kyle Bean for Fortune
Kyle Bean for Fortune

Enterprise mobile application development continues to accelerate at a furious pace. Evidence? Activations leapt more than 731% over the past 12 months, according to an ongoing report released Monday by Good Technology, which sells mobile management technology.

The focus of these apps covers everything from aircraft manufacturing support to insurance claims processing and expense reporting. “The rapid rise in custom app development illustrates that organizations are seeing mobility as a real opportunity for competitive advantage and security as a critical requirement in enabling trusted mobility,” says Good Technology CEO Christy Wyatt about the findings.

The quarter-to-quarter increase in new apps was 107%, the data show.

When I think of Fortune 500 companies leading the way with mobile apps, several companies top my list when it comes to innovation: Delta Air Lines (DAL), which is replacing all inflight paper manuals with Microsoft (MSFT) mobile devices to transform customer service; Starbucks (SBUX), which is adding an order-ahead option to an app that already handles 7 million transactions weekly; and Walmart (WMT), which gives customers using its mobile app a discount if they find a lower price at a competitor’s store.

Another data point: it took just one year for Walgreens (WAG) to drive almost 40% of its total online revenue through its mobile app.

Perspective from Forrester Research, the market research firm, suggests that if 2014 was the year in which businesses really woke up to the need to develop mobile apps, 2015 will be the year they focus more broadly on the “mobile experience.” That means supporting password alternatives (such as biometric authentication, à la thumbprints) or accommodating more data inputs from sensors or beacons. In other words, focusing less on forcing someone to open an app in order to interact.

“Mobile developers are entering a world where their digital designs must augment reality instead of replacing it,” Forrester authors write in a report from early November. “This means spare design, with a focus on getting minimum useful information to customers as quickly as possible. Developers will need to push their user experience to the customers’ peripheral visions, and use audio and tactile feedback to engage customers are concentrating on other tasks in parallel.”

Aside from the companies I’ve mentioned, which Fortune 500 companies are really leading the enterprise mobile charge? That’s an issue I’m researching for an upcoming article, so feel free to suggest apps (and mobile development teams I should consider including) by emailing

This item first appeared in the Nov. 11, 2014 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.