As the pace of mobile device use among workers and consumers accelerates, enterprises are challenged to develop applications and websites for devices beyond PCs. Unfortunately, as mobile gains in importance for the enterprise, companies sometimes cut corners in a key area in order to get their apps and websites to market quickly: testing.

Consider the cautionary tale of the Romney campaign’s supposed “killer” mobile app, Orca, which was intended to deliver data and help with get-out-the-vote efforts in battleground states. The app was never tested and thus suffered crashes throughout Election Day. Compare that to the approach of healthcare company Humana. To ensure its 22 million customers have reliable access to information when they need it while doing so cost effectively, Humana now insists on testing its mobile apps and websites using a proven cloud-based platform.

Some companies may quickly build apps or websites without testing and deploy them through an app store, risking low app ratings and treating first users as testers. This is a sure way to get negative feedback for your app. With readily available mobile testing and spot-checking tools available, there is virtually no excuse today for such high-risk practices. Taking the risk of skimping on testing can be detrimental to a mobile app, and internal IT organizations have less time and resources to manage the complexities of the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) culture. Testing is crucial.

Proper mobile testing requires dedicating the right resources in terms of staff and equipment, and the amount of time needed can be significant as well. Mobile apps multiply the complexity because of device diversity, platform diversity (iOS, Android, BlackBerry or Windows) and network challenges, among others.

To meet the relatively complex testing demands of a growing mobile market, companies are looking for alternatives to maximize their testing efficiency while keeping budgets in check. Some companies are outsourcing testing overseas to reduce labor costs. Reliance on overseas assets for mobile testing introduces its own set of challenges. Hardware and network access become much more difficult to manage. Rather than sending test cases overseas, enterprises are now reaping the benefits of sending them to the cloud. Cloud testing is now growing in favor as it offers both lowered costs and increased resource productivity.

It’s a simple idea. Real devices connected to live mobile operator networks are electrically integrated into specialized hardware hosted in a centralized location. Integration lets a remote user control the device with a keyboard and mouse. Because the screen output is also captured, a remote user can see the actual rendering in real time. Users can therefore tap directly into real devices to test mobile functionality on different devices and platforms.

Rather than hours or days of in-house testing (and monitoring), testing becomes an on-demand activity. Developers can access mobile devices from any desktop in the world to test a mobile website or service while simultaneously testing multiple devices for functionality. This approach significantly reduces the costs and headaches associated with purchasing, managing and maintaining mobile devices, all while speeding up the testing process. Leading cloud testing platforms provide additional testing tools and advanced metrics, and they stay abreast of the latest devices to hit the market.

Cloud testing assures that companies have continual access to the right tools for the job, greatly reducing the amount of time needed to get to the root of most issues (and solve them) by having real-time access via the cloud to a broad set of devices and networks. In addition, testing can begin immediately, with no limitations in terms of geography or time zones. Companies can find out precisely how their mobile apps, websites and content perform on actual browsers, networks and mobile devices using on-demand test and measurement products and services. Even better, testing can ramp up and scale back quickly, which would be very difficult to replicate outside of the cloud.

About Josh Galde