If you build it, they will come…right? Part II

Nitin Bhatia | July 22, 2014 | Mobile App Development Mobile Strategy

In my previous post I discussed two common enterprise mobile adoption pitfalls. Now let’s continue the discussion:

  • Addressing the Problem – How many times have organizations rushed to build an app or a suite of mobile apps either because they could or because they were responding to a competitor’s product? Organizations are quick to jump to the what (“we need an app”), when (“we need it now”), and how (“let’s use [some platform]”) but put very little thought into the why. Without thinking through the why, organizations don’t fully acknowledge the underlying problems and wind-up approaching the app as a replacement for existing technology. Failure to rethink the current process increases the chances the mobile app will simply replicate the underlying problem. Here’s an example to put it into perspective. Company X has a cumbersome time-off request form hosted on its internal SharePoint site. The form requires several pieces of information before an employee can send it off for approval. Just because the form is now a mobile app doesn’t guarantee it’ll be easier to use, in fact you could end up making it more complicated. By not combing through the form to understand *why* all the information is necessary to approve the time-off request, the problem is simply replicated on the mobile app. So instead of sitting in a room, defining requirements, teams should get out in the field and talk (read: listen) to actual users about the current process and its pain points. Additionally, having a solid foundation of knowledge about the constantly changing mobile landscape will help distinguish good mobile use cases from bad. Otherwise, the proverbial mobile hammer may make every problem appear like a potential app.
  • Privacy – Just as organizations are protective of their enterprise data, employees are equally protective of their privacy. Without clearly understanding the intent of the app, employees could start questioning the app’s purpose—are my bosses trying to keep tabs on me while I’m outside the office? Will they access my account to see if I’m logging in daily? Is my app usage going to impact my performance review? Will the app monitor my personal device activity? And so on. By clarifying the app’s intent upfront and reassuring employees their privacy is protected, organizations can minimize any “Big Brother” concerns. This will put employees at ease and get them comfortable about using the app.
  • Discoverability – As organizations grow their mobile footprint, the number of apps it manages increases significantly (internal as well as 3rd party), making app-discoverability a challenging and time-consuming process. Cluttered and unorganized app catalogs frustrate users and negatively impact user-adoption. By appropriately naming and categorizing all apps, organizations can alleviate this confusion. Organizations should also setup a curated Enterprise App Store (EAS) to host internal apps as well as approved 3rd-party apps. This will not only cut out employee guesswork but will also allow for better control over the apps intended to be installed on their devices.
  • Stale Apps – If there were a graveyard for apps that never made it beyond their initial release, we might all be haunted by its ghosts. Putting a great app out there is most assuredly an accomplishment, but it is just the beginning. An organizations needs to make continual investments in its portfolio of apps by adding requested features, making UI updates, squashing defects, and improving performance. These investments reassure employees that the organization is committed to delivering quality mobile products.
  • Bring the Sexy Back – Most enterprise apps don’t get the press coverage or billion dollar valuations their consumer-facing counterparts do. It’s no wonder every employee and his grandmother can’t stop talking about the upcoming Facebook app update, but no one knows about the Sales Lead Tracking App that has been out for 3 months. Organizations need to “bring the sexy back” by creating excitement and awareness for their apps. In addition to having a clear problem statement, organizations should involve the target audience during prototyping sessions and conduct frequent demos to show progress and gather feedback. This will keep employees engaged from inception and create a sense of belonging that will help improve adoption once the app is released.

All in all, user adoption is instrumental in determining if the app will deliver on its potential business value. By avoiding these common pitfalls, organizations can ensure they have the necessary traction to successfully execute on their mobile apps.

Nitin Bhatia

Nitin is a technology enthusiast with several years of consulting experience working with companies across the gamut, to craft solutions that focus on delivering value on their key initiatives. He shares a passion for emerging technologies and trends, and blogs about its ever-changing landscape; discussing current issues, trends, and best practices. Blending a sharp business acumen with strategic thinking, Nitin has helped companies navigate their path from ideation, all the way to implementation. Nitin can be reached at nitin.bhatia@propelics.com.

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