As traditional work models enter the mode of evolution owing to the rise of mobility, almost 67% of IT heads and enterprise IT professionals believe that the mobile apps will change business more than how the Internet did in the 1990’s. With an estimated 4.55 billion mobile users across the globe and almost 61% of workers reporting to work outside of the office, it is hardly a surprise that enterprises across the globe are keenly adopting mobile-centric strategies to improve employee productivity and business outcomes.
According to the recently released ‘Gartner Predicts 2017 Mobile Apps and Their Development’ forecast, 70% of all software interactions within the enterprise will take place on mobile devices by 2020. Clearly, with the exposure to the smartphone experience and consumer grade applications, the expectations from enterprise mobile apps is also on the rise.
The Evolution of Enterprise Mobile Apps
Enterprise mobile apps, during their initial inception years, were solely focused on functionality. However, they were somewhat aesthetically unappealing, often poorly designed and hard to use. As a result, these apps were not used to their potential. In an age where well-designed products are well-received and used, and even often worshipped, take Apple as an example, employees across the world were being told to use mobile applications that delivered clunky experiences and poor design quality. These enterprise applications also had a steep learning curve and did not really address the needs of the users which impeded the adoption of enterprise apps.
With the greater consumerization of IT, the rise of BYOD and employees using as many as three personal devices for work purposes, it was only a matter of time that enterprise apps became on par with the apps hosted on the App Store. Today, we see enterprise mobile apps deliver consumer app like experiences to solve the user adoption problem.
What has really changed in the enterprise mobile apps landscape?
From utilitarian to well designed and functional
From being solely focused on productivity and utilitarian in nature, enterprise mobile applications today are being designed to satisfy the human need for well-designed products. Enterprise mobile apps have taken a cue from consumer apps and have realized that productivity and emotion cannot be mutually exclusive and have, hence, adopted consumer design elements to make the apps more engaging. Instead of optimizing a workflow for mobile by repackaging it as a mobile app, enterprise mobile apps are now delivering features and functions that facilitate easy consumption of information.
UI and UX focus
Enterprise mobile apps had the reputation of being no-nonsense applications that supported complex tasks. However, as user-centered design gained momentum in the consumer apps space, the enterprise mobile app user began to ask why these apps were not as easy to use and as intuitive as the consumer grade mobile application. Today, enterprise mobile applications are focusing heavily on UI and UX and using elements such as gamification, haptic technology, mechanical simulation of the touch sensation, animation etc. to deliver consumer grade experiences. As the audience becomes increasingly tech-savvy, enterprise mobile app development teams are working closely with front-end design teams to develop a software architecture and consequently a mobile app, that is aligned with the needs of the users.
Just like consumer mobile applications, enterprise mobile applications also are becoming performance-driven. Today, enterprise mobile apps have to be built for performance and have to ensure ready availability to enable the anytime, anywhere work culture. To enable this, enterprises are looking at cloud-connected mobile apps that host the app content in a centralized server. These applications can be easily developed and delivered across the vast spectrum of mobile platforms and devices. This helps in making app updates faster, easier and time efficient with no application downtime. Since enterprise demands can be erratic, this generation of enterprise mobile apps is built for scalability with automatic scalability options. This helps organizations leveraging these applications respond to market demands faster.
App security has been a constant source of worry within the enterprise. As more and more information gets digitized, enterprise mobile app developers have to pay closer attention to app security to prevent data and security breaches. Enterprise mobile app security has also witnessed a sea of change over the past few years. Security testing of the application is being incorporated into the development process to identify vulnerabilities within the application before it is released. Developers have also focused on access control, authentication and confidentiality to make enterprise mobile apps more secure and compliance friendly.
It is becoming increasingly clear that in today’s enterprise, everyday software applications are becoming less mandated by IT and more by the business objectives and the end-users. Today’s enterprise mobile applications are focused on providing integrated, interoperable, and flexible experiences that boost adoption, help the workforce increase their productivity, and help businesses innovate faster.