Mobile-ize Your Workforce

16 Aug

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Should You Consider Mobile-First Applications for Employees?

Mobile-first application strategy

According to Nick Jones of Gartner: “In 5 to 10 years the definition of the term “mobile” will change. Instead of devices, mobile will come to mean ubiquity of relevant services, delivered anywhere, by any person or thing, to any person or thing.”

Thanks to the widespread use of mobile apps by employees at every level, from executives to field technicians, a recent study by Frost & Sullivan Surveys found that 80 percent of businesses plan to keep adding new employee apps to their portfolios in the next 12 months.

So the question we should ask ourselves at this point is not what is the risk of going mobile first, but rather what is the risk of not properly investing in people’s access to the right mobile business tools?

Evolve

Mobility is best suited to accelerate productivity. When you think of it, it only makes sense. By providing the everywhere workplace, mobile business apps free your employees to harness inspiration when it comes to them, and on their own terms. And research shows that productivity goes up when employees are inspired.

In the past, it would take huge efforts to build web applications. These initiatives usually required IT’s deep involvement in the effort and therefore kept these enterprise resources from carrying out their core function or at least slowed them down.

The processes and methodologies in building mobile apps are fare simpler and more flexible and adaptive. This presents an unprecedented opportunity to evolve like never before.

Innovate

There are plenty of potential mobile solutions for common business challenges. The consumer app landscape often offers a harbinger of what’s to come for business. Explore the latest consumer apps and look at how some of the most compelling ones can inspire ideas for a business app. Think of instant connectivity to everything and the power of that in someone’s hand while not being tied to a desk.

Take for example fitness apps. You can use a similar approach to boost productivity in an area that might currently be inefficient because it is perceived as difficult and tedious. (Think of pulling reports.) Whatever it is, mobility means your workers are always connected to critical data and are more often motivated to take immediate action to drive business.

For example we developed an app that provides orders status to customers for a manufacturing client of ours. It links directly to the factory production management software and provides real time updates to customers using the app. The inspiration for this was literally a pizza ordering app.

Also apps can do things desktop applications can’t, thanks to the devices’ many instruments such as the camera, the accelerometer (step tracker), compass and GPS capabilities.

Keep it Simple

You want solutions that enable your workforce without being overly burdened with security, scalability, and availability concerns. The great news is now in the age of mobility, those concerns are for the most part moot. Security is taken care of. Mobile solutions come with highly secure platforms right out of the box.

However, what was once considered the icing on the cake, a great user experience is no longer a nice-to-have option. It is the expected norm. The overwhelming popularity of consumer apps has created the expectation to find apps that are not only intuitive and easy to use but also appealing. Your apps must not only be relevant and useful they must also delight your users.

We have found that when an app is appealing and favorably perceived it is more than twice as likely to be rated as “easy to use” than an equally usable app that is not as visually appealing.

The first step in that direction is to focus your app on one or two essential functions, as if it were an appliance. It has been shown that apps that try to be a “Swiss Army knife” are not as successful as those that just do one or two things really well. The next step is to create a user experience that aligns well with business objectives as well as your users’ mental model and expectations. The third step is to hire app developers you can closely collaborate with so the outcome can evolve as the project goes through its various stages.

Another Frost & Sullivan survey found that 83 percent of organizations noted that they need outside assistance when using application support services. As custom mobile app development has become more economical, this approach is often more cost-effective than dedicating internal IT resources who are already stretched thin as it is.

Prioritize Mobility

Today there is little doubt that application strategies will benefit from placing mobility first and making it a keystone to business development. In fact, thinking mobile first, helps design better desktop experiences as well. Desktop applications will benefit from a mobile mindset that encourages stakeholders to simplify business processes and make interactions more efficient.

Think of how much our personal lives have been enhanced in so many ways thanks to mobile apps. Now take that thought to business and start imagining the possibilities.

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