Unifying Mobile Experiences in Enterprise Space

Prabhaker Yasa, VP-IT, JDA Software | Wednesday, 20 September 2017, 05:31 IST

Mobility is no more a technology trend, it is a state of being. If this fact does not go well with you, let us examine some statistics.

• Mobile data traffic has grown 18- fold over the past 5 years

• Almost half a billion (429 million) mobile devices and connections were added in 2016 alone

• Smartphones (including phablets) represented only 45 percent of total mobile devices and connections in 2016, but represented 81 percent of total mobile traffic

• The total number of smartphones (including phablets) will be over 50 percent of global devices and connections by 2021*

The penetration of mobile in enterprises is evident. For employees, mobile applications are ubiquitous and enhance productivity. Many service providers and vendors provide mobile applications supporting their services and platforms.

It is not uncommon to see many IT organizations dependent on multiple vendors, service providers and in-house development teams to run the services that businesses use. And this results in a highly disintegrated mobile experience.

Challenges in Delivering Mobile Experiences -

Technology Dilemma

With a myriad of technologies available now and new ones coming every other day, it is difficult to pick up a platform or toolkit for delivering mobile experiences.

Problem of Plenty

All the mobile experiences are segregated by vendors, SaaS providers and development teams. End users have to learn mobile experience paradigms to get the work done on the go. Each application comes with its own branding & functionality.

Security Requirements

There is no better day than today to underscore the importance of security. Different security implementations & authentication mechanisms become a challenge to mobile user experience. If the organization does not have SSO implemented, users must remember multiple usernames and passwords.

User Expectations

It is safe to assume that most of the workforce use consumer-oriented mobile applications on a daily basis. They have come to expect enterprise mobile apps to be at par with consumer-oriented applications. Anything less than the best engineered user experience results in poor user adoption.

Functionality Gaps

Not all the mobile offerings come with full functionality. There may be a substantial difference between desktop app features and its mobile counterpart.

Best Practices in Unifying Mobile Experiences - 

Identify & Bridge Process Gaps in Mobile

Conduct a study in your organization to clearly understand what is out there and what is missing. If having a specific functionality on the mobile aids completion of a process (ex: onboarding during hire to retire), plan to bridge the gap. If the entire process chain is missing, you may plan for a fresh application.

In most cases, the workflow needs rethinking, as all the features from a desktop cannot be replicated to mobile, due to form factor limitations. Also, take advantage of additional sensory information such as location in your applications.

Aim for a Delightful User Experience

Apart from polished interfaces, User Experience also covers simplicity of design, consistency of interfaces across devices and fluidity of screen flows. The definition of UX is often vague and different users might experience design differently. It becomes very important to interview users and define personas. When in conflict use the design principles to take a call.

If your organization has a centralized UX practice, follow it. You can borrow design principles, style guides, UX process and best practices from them. If your organization does not have a centralized design practice, create your own design methodology based on established UX practices to address UX requirements.

Consider a mobile-first approach while designing the user interfaces. In this approach designers and developers solve the problems associated with the smaller screen real estate first. Design concepts for the large desktop screens can follow later. This will help in driving consistency, which is one of the important UX principles.

Create a Common App

Consider creating a common application, which acts as a bridge between multiple mobile applications. The app should integrate with other apps and platforms using deep linking. In addition, the app can be used to host any missing mobile functionalities and fill any functionality gaps on mobile. With the implementation of Single Sign-On, the problem of multiple authentications will go away and users will have a seamless login experience. You can design the app as a one-stop shop for all mobility needs across enterprise.

Bring all the applications under one roof

Create an in-house enterprise app store, which provides platform support information, installation instructions and also helps users get started with various applications. Also, provide a list of app features to make sure everybody understands what can be achieved through mobile.

Avoid Analysis Paralysis

Weigh your technology options by use case rather than technology bias. It is easy to get lost in the myriad of technology options out there. One such example can be around choosing between hybrid and native mobile development. Native development is suitable for graphic oriented applications and applications which require heavy processing whereas hybrid applications have the benefits of code portability, easier learning curve (HTML5 + CSS + JavaScript). Allow the requirements and available skill-sets to drive your decision. Also, start small to test waters early and then iterate to refine your tech stack.

Know Your Users

It is essential to keep a pulse check of the user. In enterprise mobility, you can afford to capture user identity and provide proactive support. Invest in analytics to understand usage trends and possible problems.

Don't Miss ( 1-5 of 25 )