Mobile enterprise apps – just where does your company start?

Mobile enterprise apps - Where does your company start?

Mobile app users are exceeding web users, but whether they are the company’s customers or its employees, developing a mobile app doesn’t start with the technology, it starts with the customer journey.

The growth and importance of mobile applications cannot be overstated. In 2016, the number of mobile users first eclipsed desktop and has continued to surpass them, accounting for 53% of web traffic. Consequently, as organizations and businesses require ever more efficient IT solutions, they understand the need to use mobile channels for attracting and engaging customers. That said, it can be challenging, or perhaps confusing, for any business, especially one not particularly embedded in the fast-moving world of IT, to move from recognizing the need for a mobile application strategy, to making it happen.

Part of the challenge is because mobile technologies and user experiences are evolving at an increasingly rapid pace, so knowing where to start can be a daunting task. However, the organizations that learn how to leverage this channel, or are already doing so, for both external and internal audiences, will gain clear advantages in terms of user engagement and business growth.

Companies looking for strategic IT solutions that support user engagement need to first recognize that such strategies are more challenging than purely trying to gain efficiencies, such as optimizing operations to reduce the cost of services. Mobile applications form a unique bridge between a company and its target users, especially when they are customer-facing apps. Effectively, the app is putting important and secure aspects of a company’s operation, literally, into the hands of users who wish to engage with that company, as buyers, information-seekers, or self-managing customers, as in the case of, say, a bank account holder – at anytime, anywhere.

Deep diving into the customer experience

Looking to drive and maintain business growth through an enterprise mobile strategy means first looking at the user. It requires a ‘deep dive’ into customer-journey-based processes, analysis, and understanding of the customer experience (CX) through research, customer feedback, articles and trends. In other words, regardless of the technology, taking the first steps towards a coherent and effective strategy starts with understanding the users’ needs and wants as well as the business outcomes and efficiencies to be achieved.

On a technical level, analyzing and then developing a satisfying customer experience requires knowledge and constant innovation, involving different backgrounds across multiple IT systems. For example, many of the CX related tasks could be partly, or even fully, automated by workflow automation using AI/ML. However, at the Application level, sections of CX that require customer activity, and which can’t be fully automated, need to be powered by anticipatory design principles and solutions.

The most effective mobile app strategy, especially for a complex organization, is where the application is not simply viewed as providing an interface for data entry or data view, but which is embedded into, and part of, the business process overall. A successful integrated mobile application strategy looks at the bigger picture.

Additionally, there is a growing question of ownership over the application layer. As email and file-driven processes are converted into interactive applications, more logic and knowledge also become part of the application, tailoring it for an organization’s specific needs, ways of working and digital principles, and giving it its competitive-edge. Taking ownership of the application layer, therefore, is set to become an increasingly important asset in the business process and a key digital transformation driver. The ‘mobile-first’ user experience for modern businesses allows for freedom and convenience by being an integral part of automated processes that allows work to be done closer to where it is taking place. An app linked to the physical environment of the work itself can take photos, videos, and sensor information for data enrichment. Take, for example, an insurance inspector who is required to carry out an inspection of a vehicle in situ. They can fill out a claim directly in the mobile app, adding photos of the vehicle, extracting information from the car in an app-built AI, leading to a far more efficient, accurate and simplified process.

Mobile business applications are becoming powerful tools in the hands of employees that free them up from desktop computers and physical location and enterprise automation will make these processes even more granular and faster. The timely reaction to tasks is now not when an employee is near to their desk, or even by using email on a mobile device, but by using simple mobile applications. We can see, because of automation within the business processes, how companies may need many mobile apps that will be designed and tailored to do work in the best way and replace unstructured forms used today like email. For companies looking to test the water with mobile, independent IT agencies can advise, guide and help. However, although they would probably look to outsource, in the first instance, bringing in consultants and contractors to staff augmentation, it is increasingly likely that any company looking to remain competitive will need to have some degree of mobile development skills in its arsenal.