Anyone who doubts the need for structured and continuous testing of mobile applications should spend this week in Barcelona. The halls and conference rooms at Mobile World Congress show how central mobile technologies and services have become to the strategies of enterprises the world over. They are also a reminder of just how easy it could be for companies to get their mobile deployments very wrong.

The extensive choice of browsers, operating systems, devices and applications make it possible for enterprises to develop new, interactive and highly personal ways for customers and employees to access products, services and applications. Mobile devices are at the same time sources of rich information, powerful entertainment and purchasing platforms, and important work tools.

Companies that successfully implement mobile strategies engage both customers and employees in new ways, and create an environment of personal interaction that enhances sales and productivity. But get it wrong and enterprises could at best frustrate users and at worst lose substantial amounts of customers and money.

The harsh reality is that the diversity and choice that make mobile products and services so attractive can just as easily trip up companies if they do not carefully apply quality assurance and testing to applications right from the early stages of deployment.

What makes mobile so attractive to consumers—instant access to a multitude of apps; a wide range of rapidly evolving devices and functions; a choice of operating systems; new, cloud-based services that require no storage on the device—also makes it tricky for companies to deploy effectively.

Mobile testing brings its own distinct challenges. Among those challenges, organizations face platform fragmentation; the need for a friendly, engaging user experience; complex security issues; and the difficulties of system integration and managing app distribution.

Perhaps surprisingly, then, the fourth annual World Quality Report—from Capgemini, Sogeti and HP—reveals that only 31% of organizations surveyed currently have formal processes in place to test their mobile applications, while just 18% of those have a focus on security. This global survey of more than 1,500 CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and IT and quality assurance directors can be downloaded here: