Yesterday’s enterprise apps were ‘mobile-first’ – today’s should be ‘mobile-also’
There has been no shortage of enterprise technology experts saying that enterprises need to take a “mobile-first” approach to applications. Mobile-first is a design approach that encourages developers to “design for smaller screens first, then add more features and content for bigger and bigger screens”. This works well when a mobile device is the centre of the employee’s world. And to date, there has been some validity to this approach.
Statistics show millennials access the internet through their smartphones more than laptops, tablets, or other devices. In addition, companies that have embraced mobile-first approaches have shown an increase in employee productivity, creativity, and loyalty. However, despite the hype, the simple truth is that employees across all industries are now moving beyond just task-specific apps that can be used on a combination of devices to complete their work – they are now looking at applications as their digital work hubs.
Over the past few years, consumer applications have been optimized for mobile devices, while enterprise solutions were built with a desktop or laptop in mind. But now, app development is changing: consumer apps are being developed to run inside larger applications to deliver a better, more integrated experience – for example, Spotify being delivered through Amazon Alexa for an integrated music experience. It’s time for enterprises to think along the same lines. IT professionals must consider messengers, intranets, email, and the variety of other applications that people use every day as channels to deliver a more integrated experience. This experience should allow modern workers to use not only their devices, but their business applications as well, to receive important information and complete tasks.
This is what we call a “mobile-also” approach
“Mobile also” isn’t a new concept. For example, Google has included “Actions” inside of Gmail to bring targeted functionality from its calendar into the mail app for some time. With “mobile-also”, apps are designed around their workflows, and those workflows are then delivered to the various device and application channels employees are using. So, how do you get started on your “mobile-also” journey?
It’s time to rethink MEAP and RMADs
While, mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs) and rapid mobile application development (RMAD) platforms have gained traction with the rise of BYOD and mobility initiatives, they fail to account for how workers expect to interact with their apps – they want them to be accessible anywhere they are, whether they’re working from a mobile device or desktop, or via their favorite communications app. For modern workers, mobile-only apps just don’t cut it.
Today’s workforce has enhanced expectations for their enterprise apps that have been shaped by their own consumer experiences. As a result, business applications need to be able to deliver similar functionality from any channel an employee would like to use in order to boost adoption, engagement, and productivity. For example, Microsoft Teams and Slack demonstrate how useful messenger tools can be when mobile, web, and desktop options are available. But more than that, these tools also show the efficiencies that can be gained when employees can access enterprise systems, such as Salesforce, from these channels, without having to login to an additional system. Given that employees want the flexibility to seamlessly switch between channels (both devices and applications) while maintaining productivity, it is clear that these “mobile-only” solutions simply don’t meet the needs of a digital workforce.
Focus on omnichannel and integration to get started
As the world becomes more connected, the number of potential touch points is also increasing. With so many different devices, applications, and platforms available, enterprises need a way to simplify workflows and make business data and tasks more accessible for employees, wherever they are. A mobile-also approach emphasizes the need to simplify and integrate workflows and important data from existing systems and push them to the wide variety of channel’s employee use.
For example, visitor management systems like Envoy allow office guests to sign in through any device. Not only are these systems easy to use, they integrate with existing enterprise systems. A guest’s previously saved photo and information leads to a streamlined check-in process, while an integrated Workday database lets visitors quickly look up and notify the individual they are meeting. This creates a simple, frictionless experience that allows employees to leverage data and functionality from multiple systems within the context of a specific workflow and deliver it where it’s most useful.
Micro apps will help you successfully embrace a “mobile-also” approach
More than ever before, enterprise applications must be single purpose and easy-to-use. They should break down complicated tasks into simple workflows that can be completed anywhere—any more than one or two clicks, no matter the device, can make an enterprise application feel cumbersome and ultimately lose its value to employees. Micro apps are the answer. Micro apps are small, task-specific applications, that are integrated with your enterprise systems, and run anywhere—a desktop, smartphone, messenger client, intranet, and more.
For example, emerging micro app solutions offer targeted apps for tasks like approvals, onboarding, and service desk that are not only optimized for mobile devices, they are also optimized for desktops. More than that, that same app can be pushed to an employee intranet or communications client for relevant employees to access. Most importantly, micro apps are personalized and drive productivity as they exist where your employees are getting work done.
A “mobile also” approach puts the information and tasks that need completion where employees are, whether that’s mobile device or PC, or in an email or messenger client. The ecosystem of channels is growing fast and enterprises need to consider a more comprehensive approach if they want to be able to keep pace, remain effective, and accommodate employee expectations.
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