Empowered employees, independent problem solving and decentralised decision making are three of the ways mobile can positively impact enterprise when utilized internally, as Vijay Dheap talks about in this week’s App Beat episode.
So why does mobile deliver this, and can it deliver this to your business?
Again quoting Vijay, mobile combines communications and computing, meaning your staff can not only access your systems and each other wherever they are, but they are also able to perform tasks that would historically have required an office infrastructure to complete, immediately at the point of problem or origin of decision.
Combined with a digital authority and approval process, decisions can be made immediately, tasks can be performed without the need to return to the office, and business activities can be made visible in real time. This makes you as a manager, and hence your entire organisation, more responsive. Your employees gain the flexibility to be more innovative and develop a deep sense of empowerment, all of which help your business to run more effectively.
Consider a number of examples:
Essentially any business with staff that are away from their desks, work with time sensitive information or require a degree of accessibility outside of office hours can benefit from mobile.
While Vijay discusses three steps to be ready for mobile, the key is to clearly understand the opportunity in your business and the objectives you’re setting out to achieve.
Steve Levy in this weeks AppBeat episode talks about enterprise mobility– your staff being increasingly effective at operating your business while on the road or away from a desk.
Consider your business, its internal processes and the disconnect that often arises between real-world activity and your systems. Examples are:
Enterprise mobility addresses how your business could be impacted if your staff could:
There is now technology readily and affordably available to help you reinvent your systems in this increasingly mobile world.
So, how can you leverage this opportunity for maximum return?
5 steps towards effective enterprise mobility:
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Following on from Steve Levy’s helpful insight into Web Apps vs Native Apps in this weeks AppBeat episode we look at the three key kinds of mobile presence you can have & when you’d want each, namely a mobile website, a native mobile app, and a web app.
For the last 10 years, most mobile phones have been able to provide some form of web browsing experience. This was typically done by the web server identifying those users coming from a mobile phone and giving those users a very simple version of the webpage designed for a mobile phone, allowing key information to be conveyed to that user. However, in more recent years mobile phones have become more capable of providing a sophisticated experience. Now, many websites recognise when users are from mobile and deliver a specifically designed experience for the vastly smaller screen size and different user experience. A simpler alternative approach is called “Responsive CSS” which delivers the user the same web page, but reformats (using a method called “CSS”) the screen into a longer narrower format in response to the screen size.
Both of these are relatively low cost approaches to mobile support and, given mobile web traffic accounts for around 10% of web traffic (higher in some industries), at a minimum your website should take this into consideration. You should see if yours does by opening your website on your iPhone or Android phone and see how it looks – that’s how at least 10% of your customers or staff are experiencing it!
Native Mobile Apps
Mobile website’s have some severe limitations – requiring you to be online, they’re generally slow, and quite “clunky” to use – especially compared to using an application designed for your phone such as the ones preloaded onto your handset. The alternative is to create a native app which is written for the specific hardware allowing you to utilise the full computing power / design / interaction experience available on a particular handset. These apps can be installed on the device, as such do not require an Internet connection, and enjoy high user awareness of your brand through an icon on the device.
Whilst creating your own “native app” has been available for a long time it’s only been since distribution has been simplified through “Apple’s App Store” and “Android’s Marketplace” that they’ve had wide uptake.
The draw back of native apps are two fold, firstly, they need to be written in the underlying programming language for that handset (iOS uses Objective C, Android uses Java, Blackberry uses Java, Nokia used to use Symbian, but now .NET), making this type of mobile presence inherently much more expensive if you are looking to develop for more than one platform Secondly, native apps need to be installed on the device, which can interrupt your consumer call-to-action / sales process, it also means a new version needs to be downloaded if you want to update the user’s experience. There are some products such as Verivo (mentioned by Steve) that address these issues.
Web apps, however, have a similar user experience to mobile web. It is satisfactory in many use cases, but is not as refined or compelling as a native app. They also suffer from a confused identity because many users will treat them as a website and so they require a strong call to action to install the web app on their device, whereas, users are comfortable doing so with native apps. The plus, is that they are generally accessible in mobile website format without being installed, which makes them suitable as a “click through” target as part of an advertising campaign or other marketing call-to-action.
What’s right for me?
Both consumers & staff are increasingly interacting with mobile, so in almost all cases you need a mobile website experience to cater for new users. Beyond this, if you desire regularity from your users and can afford it, consider a native app if your customer demographics lean more heavily towards one or two types of handset operating systems. In certain cases, where you want to a limited life (or integration with a call to action), app-like experience, a web app should be considered.
The technical aspects of app development will invariably impact your mobile strategy. This week, CEO Steve Levy of Verivo Software explains the differences between web apps and native apps and talks about how alternative solutions to app development could help you leverage the benefits of both.