Mobile Enterprise Apps: The User’s View
The addictiveness of smartphones is enabled, in part, by the intimacy of the user experience (UX)—the principle upon which mobile enterprise apps were founded. “There’s an app for that”™ thinking resulted in single-task-based applications crafted for a frictionless and engaging UX.
For instance, simply unbundling the basic features of photo sharing sites and social networks and adding artistic filters precipitated the meteoric rise of Instagram. This early emphasis on user experience forever raised the bar for all mobile enterprise apps.
But there is a constant tension between meeting the enterprise’s integration and security needs and the experiential expectations of end users. The enterprise demands high security, scalability, maintainability and functional reusability from legacy assets.
This can result in compromises around look and feel, intuitiveness and responsiveness. Early consumer-facing apps that mimicked Web portals rather than mobile context died on the vine. And IoT apps demand even faster and more secure experiences.
So how can companies best deal with this tension?
Start by remembering that the app developer precedes the ultimate app consumer. Developers must deal with the substantial complexity behind the app that the end user never sees. Place the same emphasis on Developer Experience (DX) as you would for UX, and you liberate the developer from much of that complexity, freeing them to design and build great apps with the expected UX. A great DX comes from the tools, building blocks, and instructions you provide to developers.
From app revolution to the app economy
The Apple™ iPhone™ revolutionized computing in 2007, but it was the opening of the App Store™ in 2008 that marked the dawn of a new mobile business era. The App Store™—and Google Play™—allow businesses to deliver information and services through a new, extraordinarily intimate consumer channel.
The mobile “Gold Rush” that followed turned the mobile device into what Matt Strain of AVG called an “information appliance.” App development was primarily done in native languages, using whatever toolkits were available.
As app features became more sophisticated, users could perform formerly web-based tasks with integrated mobile capabilities such as geolocation and SMS. Evolved standards like HTML5 and multi-platform languages and frameworks aided app development, as did the parallel rise of cloud computing that increased availability of data and backend services.
Meanwhile, the popularity of bringing your own device (BYOD) policies drove many companies to examine how mobile technologies were supported and integrated into their businesses. Today, the app economy is in full swing—but it’s not the same economy of the early days of the App Store.
With the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile now serves as a hub for connecting devices and services that fuel billion-dollar business opportunities. The early user-experience and integration challenges created by the “app revolution” are now more mission-critical than ever.
Preparing for the enterprise of things
As the digital economy drives complex enterprise architectures, IT has embraced the complexity with simplified standards. APIs allowed new cloud and mobile architectures to co-exist with enterprise systems.
And newer and evolving standards will enable the integration of smart devices into these IT landscapes. The digital enterprise facilitates transactions spanning from customer devices to private cloud to enterprise systems behind the firewall.
These transactions can originate from smart homes, smart cars or consumer wearable devices, and access data from an enterprise system on-premises. The enterprise’s boundaries are now more extensible and permeable than ever—making security, governance, and management critical topics in the “Enterprise of Things” conversation.
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