Today we are witnessing the accelerated development of mobile technologies. People are getting used to the fact that their smart gadget is a reliable source of information, a channel for communication, and a problem-solving tool. Moreover, all these functions are available globally 24/7.
Mobile technologies are playing an increasing role not only in personal lives, but also in business. Today, going mobile is one of the top priorities in commerce. Organizations that want to prosper cannot ignore this trend.
One of the major steps on the way to upgrading to mobile is the development of an enterprise mobile application. In 2013, corporate analysts had already predicted that mobilizing their key enterprise apps would lead to an increase in productivity of at least 36%. Sounds impressive, right? And, sure enough, in the following years, this trend only intensified.
Enterprise mobile apps are intended to simplify processes within the company, while creating a comfortable climate for the involvement of and interaction between employees.
An enterprise mobile app helps a business to operate more efficiently by facilitating the solution to several critical tasks:
- Providing the ability for employees to have access to operational data while out of the office.
- Ensuring the transparency of all current processes within the organization.
- Unifying all work processes on a single platform (communication, scheduling, reporting, etc.).
- Reducing the time it takes to solve complex problems and implement difficult projects.
- Improving the interaction between different departments, as well as between employees and top management.
Previously, the development of enterprise mobile apps was the prerogative of big businesses, but nowadays more and more small organizations are implementing customized mobile solutions. Particularly, a mobile client for a corporate portal can become an effective aid for companies in which many employees are working remotely. It allows creating a unified system for the cooperation of people who are not physically present on the premises.
An enterprise mobile app is a powerful business tool, which we recommend developing right now so you can start getting the benefits from it as soon as possible.
Once you have decided to develop an enterprise mobile app, you need to be ready to overcome some challenges on the path to a successful result. It is important to understand that the mobile application industry is relatively new and fundamentally different from that of web development, which has already become classic.
In this article, we are going to note the most important challenges in enterprise mobile app development, as well as provide solutions that will help you overcome obstacles and succeed.
Contracting a Development Team
Mobile app development for enterprise is a complex and multi-stage process that requires the involvement of diverse specialists. The development team for an enterprise mobile app usually includes these experts:
- Software and hardware engineers;
- At least one project manager.
Obviously, most companies don’t have all these specialists employed in-house. Therefore, attracting external aid is a must.
In the case of developing a mobile app for the enterprise, it is not enough to outsource app development and just leave them to it. It is essential to be fully involved in the process and to know from the outset what kind of application you want.
The most common and best working scheme includes cooperation between the responsible company representative and the offshore outsourcing developers.
The dedicated corporate representative influences the final result to a large extent. This person must:
- be acquainted with the structure of the company and its internal processes.
- understand exactly what tasks and functions the application should perform.
- have a good understanding of the existing IT ecosystem of the organization.
- be very involved in the process and have control over each stage of the app development.
Developers cannot independently and objectively assess the company's situation from the outside. No matter how professional the contracted team is, they will not be able to understand the internal processes and specific functions of the future application until you describe it to them in detail. Nevertheless, having the dedicated representative in regular contact with the outsourcing company helps to avoid most of the possible misunderstandings and make the final result much more predictable.
Next, let us review the specifics of enterprise mobile application development.
High Usability Demands
Within the confines of the enterprise mobile app development, the issue of usability takes on a special significance. Usability is responsible not only for the level of user satisfaction but also for ensuring the efficiency of the entire enterprise and the achievement of goals throughout the business.
The good news is that in the case of developing a mobile application for employees of a specific enterprise, you actually have the target audience clearly defined already. Moreover, you have a good opportunity to get to know them better, which may also be helpful for team building and human resources. Before starting the development of an app, it makes sense to conduct an internal study. An excellent way to find out the desires and expectations of future customers is a poll. A preliminary analysis of the user data will help to identify:
- problematic areas in the workflow that the application could be helpful with.
- information exchange processes and employees’ communication needs.
- the specific needs of each department, each working role, and their interactions in the vertical and horizontal planes.
It is important to understand that only after meeting the needs of each employee will the mobile app be efficient for the whole organization. Obviously, the CEO and an ordinary member of staff will use the application differently. At the same time, everyone should get the maximum benefit from it. Do not forget that the main task of any corporate platform is to simplify the work of each employee.
Existing IT Environments
A newly created enterprise mobile app should not be a pioneer in the company’s IT system. Besides the cases where a business itself is built around this application, it is likely that the unique technological environment has been developing and evolving over several years.
A qualified contractor will take into account the existing technological experience of the company and try to connect it with the future application as much as possible. Thus, the mobile app will complement the overall ecosystem and, at the same time, help to promote it to a new level.
Plan some time for developers to cooperate with the enterprise’s IT department and analyze the existing system in order to understand which APIs are already available and which must be built from scratch.
A good development strategy means the creation of an ideally working mechanism that will satisfy the whole list of employee requirements. Make sure that the mobile application will have a worthy place in the technological environment of the company.
The issue of security has become particularly acute with the rapid spread of the BYOD (bring your own device) concept. Despite the fact that implementation of BYOD principle can reduce the cost of office equipment, not all companies are willing to consciously employ it, not to mention its further stage – BYOA (bring your own application).
However, the process of enhancing the role of personal mobile devices cannot necessarily be controlled by a company. Here are just a few facts:
- According to IDC research, about 95% of modern employees already use at least one personal device for work purposes.
- The results of a study by Poppulo show that 41% of employees are not satisfied with the tools their companies provide them with.
- Another IDC survey shows that more than 53% of workers in the US believe that using their own devices makes them more productive.
It seems that the pervasion of mobile tools into business processes is inevitable, and every company must take control of it in time. Implementing an enterprise mobile app can ease the control process in terms of increasing mobility.
To reduce the security risks when introducing the mobile approach, first of all, MDM (mobile device management system), as well as its technological successor – MAM (mobile application management system) – are used. Mobile device management software aids corporate IT and security departments to carry out the unified management of all mobile devices, including the personal devices of employees.
The four most popular mobility management software programs are:
- SOTI MobiControl
- VMware Airwatch
- Microsoft Enterprise Mobility+Security
- ManageEngine Mobile Device Manager Plus
Mobile Access to Operational Data
In the modern world, almost any job involves operating with large amounts of data.
One of the tasks of the mobile application is to give employees quick and easy access to the necessary data. Employees may require information not only in the office, but also during holidays or on a business trip. A report by Modern Networks states that 84% of polled companies note an increase in productivity due to the provision of mobile access to corporate information.
A great advantage of the application will be the ability to access data without an Internet connection. Thus, at the development stage, it is worthwhile envisaging the offline-first approach.
The issues of data access provision and security often go hand in hand. Take care of the reliable credentials and access rights system, so that each employee will have a different set of data, depending on their position and job role.
Further Application Maintenance and Support
Building and launching an enterprise mobile application is only one stage of its lifecycle.
After a successful launch, the application should be maintained and updated regularly to keep in line with current technologies, new spheres of activity, and arising issues and vulnerabilities. Moreover, you will have to make efforts to ensure that your employees start using the provided tools in their daily work. Business mobility creates a new culture within the company, so both the enterprise as a whole and its employees must be flexible.
A clear indicator of the project success in the development of an enterprise mobile app is not the release of the finished program itself, but an increase in staff productivity, an improvement of the company's internal climate, and the development of the business.
Prospective Trends for Enterprise Mobility Solutions
The speed of information technology development is so high that new trends arise every month, including ones that update or even change the rules of the game. Be aware that the future will come very quickly, and when you are going to adapt all your business processes, you will need to adapt your enterprise mobile app as well. There are many trends in the field of mobility that are already obvious now and will become a reality in 2019.
Wideband Mobile Internet
Experts have identified 5G communications as the next evolutionary leap in the speed of the mobile Internet. It will bring the mobile software industry to a new level. This trend should not be ignored by developers of enterprise mobile apps.
Year by year, people continue to live in an accelerating rhythm. Already, with smartphones in their hands, people easily fulfill most of their desires in just a few clicks. The same reaction speed is expected from corporate platforms.
Internet of Things
When considering the future of enterprise mobile apps, we must try to see the big picture, and understand that the capabilities of the mobile application are beyond the scope of the mobile device. This is what the Internet of Things (IoT) is about.
Everything around us, everything that can be seen and touched, in theory, can be connected to the Internet to provide possibilities for some kind of feedback and control by software, including enterprise mobility solutions.
Modern smartphones can determine the current location by using GPS. Imagine that in the morning, when you are nearing the office, the enterprise management system recognizes you and automatically turns on the air conditioner and coffee machine in your office.
The biggest technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, and IBM are already implementing Internet of Things deployments in their offices.
This is another important trend that developers should keep in mind when creating corporate apps.
Sometimes a challenge can be an opportunity at the same time. Big data is probably the brightest example of this.
The collection, storage, and processing of huge amounts of unstructured data require considerable resources and effort from the company’s IT department. However, by deciding to connect the big data processing algorithms to corporate mobile apps, the company provides its staff with valuable information and insights that can serve as a basis for making important business decisions.
Artificial Intelligence Routines
An increasing amount of processes previously conducted by people are currently being performed by self-learning algorithms.
2019 will be distinguished by a significant increase in the number of devices supporting artificial intelligence. This trend marks a new era of mobility. Artificial intelligence can also work for the organization, improving its efficiency and productivity.
It is obvious that enterprise mobile application development is not an easy task. In this article, we have tried to provide our readers with a basis to understand enterprise mobile app development challenges and solutions.
We, in particular, have no doubt that corporate mobile software is a good investment for the development of any business, whatever its sphere of activity. Do not hesitate to contact us with your app idea, we'll be happy to help.