The rate at which businesses are rushing to get their apps running on to the mobile platform is astounding, but more is not always better. According to a report released last year by Gartner, 61% of enterprises plan to enhance their mobility capability during the next 3 years, and 48% believe they will become leaders in their industries by adopting innovative mobility solutions. Unfortunately, fewer than 25% of employee apps enjoy widespread adoption by their intended audience.
It’s not good enough anymore to be reactive to a perceived demand for mobility and implement solutions that are only an extension of your company’s desktop strategies. This might satisfy the boys upstairs for a second, but those smiles will quickly turn to frowns when your expensive new mobile app doesn’t deliver results. Statistics show that the growth in the rate of app downloads far exceeds the growth of mobile users, meaning that app competition is fierce and growing fiercer. At the end of the day, your mobile development project has to be driven by REAL employee needs and provide REAL business value in order to grab your audience and be considered a success.
In order to identify the best opportunities for your company in the mobility space, it’s important for you to have a defined set of corporate mobility goals. Increased revenue, increased employee productivity, and developing more efficient processes are some distinct measurable goals that can be chosen as a starting point for your mobile efforts. From there you’ll want to begin to identify the chokepoints that are limiting improvements in any of those areas, and identify whether any of the inherent qualities of mobile devices can speed up the value exchange. Some questions you might ask as part of this process are:
- Location based: How can I get value out of location agnosticism (the fact that my employees can be working from anywhere)? Is there specific value I can get from my employees being “On Location/On Site?”
- Device based: Is there anything unique about the native device sensors (Cameras, gyroscopes, GPS, touch interface) that will provide a heretofore unavailable solution to a problem, shorten the operations cycle, or improve data accuracy? Are there 3rd party accessories (like the Square card reader or even medical sensing devices) that could contribute to any of the above?
- Communication based: Can I leverage mobile email, instant messaging technology, social media or videoconferencing to speed up a process, improve internal communications, or improve customer service?
Meeting your corporate mobility goals means matching your priorities up with your employee (or the app end users’) goals; user experience design is going to be critical to the success of your efforts. It means nothing for you to deploy innovative mobile apps if they aren’t easy to understand and use, and if they don’t make life a whole lot easier for the user. The user experience you provide will correlate directly with app adoption and usage; your employees will expect any app you deploy to be as good as something they’d buy for themselves in any app store. If you pay attention, you can avoid being in that 75% of company apps that get downloaded with high hopes, then languish unused on the users' mobile desktop.
Competition in the mobile app space is fierce, yes, but businesses can’t afford to sit on the sidelines while their competitors are creating apps and mobile services that will erode their customer/user base. It’s important that companies get their mobile app development program started with a digital consultant that is experienced in identifying and implementing successful mobile strategies and helping their clients to avoid pitfalls and rookie mistakes. Nevertheless, the mobile marketplace is a swiftly moving target and your mobile development should be approached as an iterative process. Mistakes will be made and opportunities missed in version 1.0 that will have to be addressed in a later release (rest assured there will always be later releases.) The worst you can do is to delay deployment in pursuit of perfection.
 Source: “Magic Quadrant for Mobile Application Development Platforms Gartner, (4/12/12)
 Source: Antenna Business Mobile Forecast, 2012