By the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organizations' ability to deliver them, according to new research from Gartner Inc.

Mobile phone sales will reach 2.1 billion units by 2019, and that will fuel demand for apps in the enterprise that meet the high performance and usability of consumer apps, Gartner forecasts.

Enterprises find it challenging to rapidly develop, deploy and maintain mobile apps to meet increasing demand, because it’s difficult and costly to hire developers with good mobile skills, according to Adrian Leow, Gartner principal research analyst.

"Organizations increasingly find it difficult to be proactive against competitive pressures, which is resulting in their mobile apps becoming tactical, rather than strategic," Leow said in a statement. "We're seeing demand for mobile apps outstrip available development capacity, making quick creation of apps even more challenging. Mobile strategists must use tools and techniques that match the increase in mobile app needs within their organizations."

Gartner says employees in today's digital workplace use an average of three different devices in their daily routine, which will increase to five or six devices as technologies and trends such as wearable devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) eventually become mainstream.

Many of these workers are given the autonomy to choose the devices, apps and processes with which to complete a task, and this is placing an increasing amount of pressure on IT to develop a larger variety of mobile apps in shorter time frames.

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