How to Develop Enterprise Mobile Apps that Matter
Mobile apps can be quite costly to develop, so enterprises must make sure they provide apps that make a real impact on the business.
By Robert Lacis, Apperian
Many organizational leaders are anxious to jump on the enterprise mobility wagon. They see opportunities to help employees become more productive by equipping them with enterprise apps that enable them to get work done while they’re commuting, on business trips or elsewhere outside the office.
The problem is, they don’t know where to begin or what kind of enterprise mobile apps to build. With mobile leaders spending $500,000 to over $1,000,000 per custom mobile app, it’s critical to ensure, when they do begin developing an app, that it will make an impact on the business.
For company leaders who are wrestling with these issues, it’s important to remember that successful enterprise mobile apps don’t just digitize things. They remove hurdles in transactional processes and friction from the employee work experience.
Based on my experiences identifying opportunities for and helping develop and deploy custom mobile apps for the sales groups at Cisco and Maxim Integrated, here are four key tips for developing mobile apps that matter:
Understand Needs of Mobile App Users
A good starting point for enterprise mobility is understanding how people work and the types of organizational hurdles and administrative overhead that slows down their results. Identifying and then acting on these challenges can enable businesses to create an "app that matters" -- one that improves upon pain points of critical work paths or processes that make employees' work lives easier.
At Cisco, for example, there was a drawn-out, five-person approval process for discounting in the sales department. It involved different stakeholders from around the world. By developing and deploying a mobile app for approvals, we were able to help shorten the authorization process from two weeks to two hours. This helped stem the tide of customers who compared products and services from Cisco’s competitors while waiting to hear back from sales reps.
Make Mobile Apps Enjoyable to Use
Enterprise mobile apps can offer additional opportunities for performance improvement. For example, salespeople often don’t like using outmoded legacy systems which, as a result, are underused and contain out-of-date data. Mobile apps offer opportunities for creating a more user-friendly experience, providing the core functionality and features salespeople and other employee groups want and rely on most.
By providing more modern enterprise systems to employees, organizations can ensure they get the correct data and information to managers and leadership.
Ensure People Can Use the Mobile App
Apps (even good ones that solve the right challenges) won’t be adopted if they don’t fit into end users’ workflows. There are many technical considerations when developing and deploying enterprise mobile apps that impact whether they’ll be adopted and how frequently they’ll be used.
Do your sales reps work on the train? Are they going to connect to the network? This information will help uncover important factors, such as whether you need to develop an offline app.
Learn From Peers
One of the best ways to identify and act on workflow/performance opportunities is through collaboration and knowledge sharing with non-competitive peers. While working with Cisco, I heard stories from other companies that gave me plenty of ideas for mobile apps. For example, I came across one company that built an app on top of a legacy CRM system using its API.
This fits into my tip above; make sure people will enjoy using it. By developing a user-friendly mobile app, this prompted salespeople to update customer data immediately after calls, meetings and deals. Thanks to the use of the API, this kept the CRM system continuously up to date.
It was an invaluable lesson that I learned not through my own application deployments, but by having a network of peers who were leading mobile app initiatives at other companies and in other industries.
When it comes to enterprise mobile apps, 97 percent of CIOs have high hopes for what mobile can do for their businesses, with 75 percent looking to increase employee productivity and 64 percent looking to mobile to create new revenue opportunities. Developing mobile apps that matter – the ones that can transform the way work gets done – is the key to unlocking enterprise mobility’s potential.
Robert Lacis is senior director of Customer Success at Apperian, an enterprise-class mobile application management and app store platform for the secure delivery of critical apps to 100 percent of users across an organization.