While mobile working may not be a new concept, the explosion of the mobile app is posing new challenges for enterprises considering how to make their workforce more productive on the go. The days of simply trying to replicate your entire business (email, custom applications etc) on a mobile device are long gone. Instead, companies are realising that high-impact enterprise apps start with the behaviours and processes of the user.
Less can be more. Unlike consumer apps, cramming every piece of functionality into an enterprise app isn’t the right approach. Mobile working is about helping users to easily complete the key tasks they need to do their job, on the move.
Based on his experience consulting to companies globally, here are the top five tips from Jesse Endo – director of Innovation at Bluewolf – for a high-impact enterprise mobile deployment:
1. Know your environment
With a multitude of technologies, platforms and flavours of platforms available, how well do you know your mobile environment before embarking on designing your mobile strategy? Do you have a corporate device policy at your organisation? Is there an existing reference point in the native versus hybrid architecture debate? Will your organisation support iOS, Android, Blackberry or Windows?
2. Ease of workflow is key
When it comes to mobile app functionality, simplicity is key and less can be more. Concentrate on a set of common actions that enable or enhance a specific business-level goal or workflow. If the app makes a user’s job more difficult or changes their workflow, they won’t use it.
3. Design is the ‘make or break’
Walk in your users’ shoes. Focus on the design of the user experience and interface from the outset. Remember that the overarching goal of any mobile enterprise app is to create something your employees can use easily and something that will improve the way they do their job. Try to understand your user’s pain points and the processes behind them.
4. Build early, build often
Spend the time in the design stages, to ultimately see benefit over the longer term. Without spending time in the field with sales people, how can a developer truly understand how they do their jobs? Create early and iterate with frequent working builds to validate your design decisions and get important feedback that you may miss from mockups and wireframes. Everything might look great on paper, but once in the hands of an actual user, flaws and barriers to adoption will become clear.
5. Don’t forget deployment
Enterprise mobile distribution almost hearkens back to the days of desktop software – somewhere, somehow, someone has to actually install this thing on a physical device. How do you package it? Where will you host it? How do you direct users to this location? How will you distribute updates?
Keeping it simple is an old but understated message. It should extend to how you design the app around the user experience. Too often solutions are over-engineered and poorly designed. Today, it’s about building beautiful apps that your users love. That’s how you get 100% adoption and ultimately deliver a better mobile experience.