This post is part three in a five-part series on the lifecycle of mobile application management. For previous posts in the series, see: Part I, Introduction; Part II, The Landscape.

If you’ve been keeping up with our series on the lifecycle of mobile app management, you know how MAM compares to other mobility solutions, and you may have an idea of where it’s headed. That’s all well and good, but it’s clear to us that not everyone is on the same page regarding the importance of getting started with MAM as soon as possible.

Why is it so important to invest in mobile apps and mobile app management right now? We can think of a few good reasons:

Your employees are going mobile: Gartner estimates that there will be 25 billion connected devices in use by 2020. More importantly, Citrix estimates [PDF] that the average number of devices per knowledge worker will reach almost 6 devices by 2020.

The picture is clear: employees are already going mobile, and that trend will continue to pick up speed in the coming years. Investing in mobile apps and MAM now ensures you stay ahead of the curve.

You have company data to protect: Ever since the first iPhone entered the workplace (and likely even before that), security has been a huge concern. As the trend of the mobile worker continues to proliferate, it’s absolutely essential that businesses have a way to protect company data on individual employees’ devices.

Attempts to manage data using MDM and BYOD policies were quickly outgrown; it’s tough to secure an entire device, especially if it isn’t company-owned. Company-owned (or developed) apps, managed through an enterprise app store, put the company back in control of its sensitive data.

An enterprise app store puts you in control of the mobile narrative: Some companies, rather than invest in mobility now, have chosen to sit back and wait. When IT refuses to develop and support its own mobile solutions, employees and other stakeholders will seek out their own solutions to maximize productivity and efficiency.

By investing in MAM now, businesses can retake that control and, like we mentioned above, keep data secure in the process. While some shadow IT is inevitable these days, there are obvious benefits to IT offering up its own mobility solutions.

Investing now pays dividends as mobile proliferates: You might’ve guessed by now that mobility is only going to continue to expand in scope and complexity as time goes on. Companies that invested in mobile apps early in their lifecycle have seen the benefits—namely, tangible ROI.

As the mobility landscape continues to expand, as more users go mobile on more devices, and as enterprise mobility solutions become more complex, we’ll see the same story again. Those who invest in mobile apps and build a foundation now will have better building blocks in place for mature mobility programs down the road.

True ROI awaits those with mature mobile app strategies: And now, what you’ve all been waiting for: ROI. A mobile app management program in the enterprise, backed by the right analytics, has the potential to deliver incredible ROI. Mobilizing simple functions is nice, but companies with mature strategies that help mobilize key business practices are typically the ones that see the best return on investment.

Developing, implementing, and getting buy-in on these types of apps takes time; it isn’t something that happens overnight. Building a mobile app management program now gets you ahead of the curve on mobilizing key functions, which in turn brings tangible ROI.

Though ultimately, it’s up to you and key stakeholders at your organization to decide when and how to invest in mobile app management, it’s clear to us (and many others) that investing in mobility now is the right way to position your business for success in the future.

We’ve already covered a lot in this series, from MAM’s position in the marketplace to the organizational benefits of going mobile. But what’s next for mobile apps? What does their future look like? Check back next week to find out in Part IV of our series!

Have a question about this post, or about any other posts in the series? Reach out to us in the comments or on Twitter @App47. We would love to answer any questions you have!