Forward-thinking organisations are exploring the role of enterprise apps to engage with employees in new and interesting ways.
Enterprise apps can help make people more empowered, jobs easier, more profitable, more efficient, more informed, and more connected to the organisation. Workflow improvements as a result of leveraging “mobile moments”—along with the wider adoption of AI and machine learning—will provide the ability for enterprise apps to make a difference to leading business. This is sure to accelerate further, as the tools become more intelligent.
In my experience, one of the most common pitfalls is not having senior stakeholder buy-in and sufficient strategy that talks to the purpose and role of an app now and in the future. Is it to save time for the user? Is it to help save money? And what are the key aspects of the technology requirement that mean it needs to be an app and not a responsive website? Is it an offline mode for a remote worker, or to be able to present offline video at meetings with prospects and customers, for example? Apps operate closer to the metal, but the fact is the app needs to have a strong value proposition for the employee and the business.
Six key insights come out of the “Up, Up, And Away” report into mobile enterprise apps from Adobe, and, throughout, an aviation theme is used to help make each point memorable (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company).
First, many organisations operate in a fragmented way due to silos internally. This results in an unnecessary duplication of effort. The lack of co-ordination can lead to increased cost, delays getting to market, a lack of shared learnings, and a failure to establish a centre of gravity around mobile skills—therefore, a joined-up approach is advocated.
The other area is around manual workflows in order to update apps, and a lack of analytics. Clearly, having KPIs and being able to measure how people use enterprise apps is important, and too often an afterthought. Making measurement and A/B testing a priority is important.
Critical to mobile success is having the right mobile skills in-house. Mobile is too important to outsource and not embrace centrally into key roles internally. In fact, executives’ five key challenges with mobile are: limited mobile skills (73%), lack of mobile objectives (57%), lack of mobile KPIs (47%), lack of cross-functional team (46%), and budget/funding (31%).
Second, the “shrink & squeeze” method of taking web functionality and squishing it into a smaller screen is not going to produce returns. A lacklustre experience of an enterprise app will severely limit its adoption. It is, therefore, important that an app includes something special, which shows empathy for the user and saves them time. A great example is using an employee’s location to serve up intelligent location-aware stock information.
Employees expect enterprise apps to be as good as the ones they use in their everyday life, be it hailing a cab, ordering pizza, or sharing and consuming content. Dumb apps that are miniaturised versions of a website have very little point and are doomed to obsolescence. But if you create an intelligent experience that has a clear purpose as an app, and shows you get what the users are trying to achieve, it will stand you in good stead. That is why it’s good to user-test employee apps with your team, and also to think about a beta launch to further enhance the app’s ability to create a quality experience that considers the when, what, where, and why of your employees.
Third up is the danger of treating an app like a one-off project or event. An app launch in an enterprise is the tip of an iceberg: a further two-thirds of the lifetime cost of the app is still ahead of you in terms of enhancements, content refreshes, navigation improvements, new features, and support updates for new operating system and device launches. An app is a long-term endeavour, therefore a long-term product owner, roadmap, and support structure need to be in place from before the launch to many years onwards. Data from usage should be used to inform the ongoing programme of updates so that underperforming sections and features can be shelved and new aspects introduced based on feedback from around the organisation.
The report clearly shows that an enterprise app is a journey, not a destination.
The fourth point made in the report is the danger of obsessing over making the app pretty and, as a result, not having any substance to back it up. Enterprise apps need to be honed and focused on utility. Being useful is more important than pretty pixels. Things to think about here include segmenting users, keeping people engaged and coming back, creating mutual value for both the employee and the business, and publishing frequent updates so that the app feels dynamic and up to date. Perpetual use of an enterprise app will only happen if ongoing value is put front and centre, otherwise there will be a long tail of diminished usage, as seen in consumer apps. A great example referenced is from medical technologies firm Stryker, which created an enterprise sales rep app that replaced printed material and put rich multi-media content into the hands of sales people. They have seen 78% of sales reps adopt the app, and an impressive 62% of users return every single day to use it.
The fifth topic is that of being careful not to solve problems that don’t exist. Apps need to differentiate from competitors. A great example is that of U.K. taxi-hailing app Hailo, which launched in New York with $100 million in funding, but at the same time as Uber. Hailo couldn’t offer the lowest price, and taxi drivers didn’t need its help to find customers. After realising it wasn’t solving the problems of drivers and riders, Hailo pulled out of New York.
And the sixth, final point is the danger of overlooking valuable input. Data can foster and generate value. In my experience, the best data is actionable as a result of being visualised. Data and insight can come from staff, from customers, from other internal stakeholders, or senior leaders. Having a sounding board—be it in IT or customer service—can definitely create wisdom and result in better recommendations and, therefore, better enterprise apps.
Inspiring case study examples from the likes of Hartford Funds, DuPont, Celebrity Cruises, and ExxonMobil show how value, data, integration, and quality can help recruit new talent, build sales, distribute content, engage fan feedback, strengthen brand, and save time and money.