Leveraging the Power of Push Notifications in the Enterprise

David Enarson | August 28, 2014 | Mobile Strategy

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Overview

Push Notifications are an important element of your Enterprise mobile strategy. The most well-known type of Push Notification across all devices is the alert which displays a brief message in a slide-down or popup window. When tapped, the notification launches an app. Currently, Push Notifications are supported on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and Fire OS.

With the growing maturity of Push Notifications, how can you effectively use them to drive business results?

Lets first discuss incorporating Push Notifications into general-use enterprise applications—those with specific business goals and uses apart from messaging and notifying—where Push Notifications can be used to further enhance value. In addition, we’ll discuss special-purpose apps—those with a narrow scope that leverage the advantages of messaging.

General Uses

In order to achieve key business goals from an enterprise application, companies must drive awareness and adoption. What good is a compelling app that no one uses?

Push Notifications are helpful in driving awareness and adoption, especially when coupled with in-app analytics. For instance, an application can track if frequency of use has declined and send a Push Notification to the user reminding them of the app. For compliance-related apps where participation is mandatory, Push Notifications can be sent at daily intervals if necessary.

Once employees are actively using your enterprise application, Push Notifications can be used to ensure users keep using it by driving engagement with the application. For example, a district manager has been closely tracking her district’s sales performance. The application has been recording her usage behavior and storing it in a database. It knows she is interested in a specific metric for a lagging set of stores. She is very busy and switches to another app to prepare a presentation. New sales results come in and the numbers look great. The app sends her a Push Notification and she is right back in the app looking up the latest figures. This creates a positive association of her experience with the app and builds trust by reinforcing the notion that the app will have timely and up to date information.

Segmentation

In these examples, we’ll explore behavioral targeting. Targeting and segmentation are critical to the effective use of Push Notifications. There is little value in sending a broad message to thousands of employees. Messages can be targeted based on user attributes: department, product, title, job level, etc.; user behavior (as in the previous examples), and location.

Integrating your application with your Active Directory can provide rich employee metadata to facilitate notification segmenting. To mitigate the risk of info exposure and privacy concerns, all of this data can be tied to anonymous user IDs. The application will know to send a Push Notification to all members of a specific marketing department but doesn’t need to know the names of those specific individuals.

Location-based push is gaining in popularity and provides further opportunity for the enterprise. Do your employees navigate specific routes? Are there key actions they should take based on their location? Remind them with a Push Notification.

Importance of Strategy

It’s as necessary to define a clear strategy for your use of Push Notifications as it is to define your overall mobility strategy. Think about it from your employees’ perspective. They have multiple Enterprise apps installed on their devices, each of which is likely managed by a different department. In a BYOD world their devices will be loaded with their own personal apps as well. All of these apps have the ability to send Push Notifications. You need to ensure your Enterprise Push Notifications are highly relevant and helpful.

If you have a Mobile Center of Excellence (MCOE) you can work with them to develop parameters or a push policy for the use of Push Notifications in your organization. What is an acceptable push frequency per app? Should more highly ranked apps take priority and have the okay to send more often? Should there be a “quiet period” when notifications should not be sent? This way you ensure employees get the most relevant messages and Push Notifications don’t become a distraction or burden.

Notification-Centric Uses

Let’s take a look at some compelling use cases for Notification-centric applications that can provide tremendous value to the enterprise.
Valuable use cases involve apps that provide weather-related alerts, security alerts, travel-related alerts, messages from leadership, and department messages.

For example, you could develop an app for your company whose sole purpose is to provide critical alerts. If there is a threat on the corporate campus the entire company gets a Push Notification to warn them. You could even specify the text based on your employees’ location of whether they are on or off campus.

Technical Implementation

In order to realize the value of Push, it must be implemented effectively across the organization. Push’s complexity lies in the fact that each device platform has its own protocol for sending notifications and requires you to run a web application to communicate with their intermediary web service. Send the service the notification and it pushes it to devices. In order to simplify this process I suggest you explore evaluating services like Urban Airship or Amazon Simple Notification Service or an MBaaS such as the Appcelerator Platform. These services and platforms provide a single unified API that dispatches Notifications down to the devices. As part of your company’s strategy, the MCOE should elect a preferred provider that all departments use when sending Push Notifications. In this way, your organization need only support a single third-party platform, thus reducing support costs.

Final Thoughts

It’s an exciting time build an effective strategy to leverage Push Notifications at your company. Please feel free to comment with any questions or with creative uses for Push in your organization.

David Enarson

David Enarson is a Mobile Strategist at Propelics. He has experience leading mobile application initiatives in the Enterprise, specifically with sales force audiences. He has worked with well known brands in the Pharmaceutical, Consumer Packaged Goods and Services verticals. David combines his ability to chart out a big picture strategy with his technical aptitude and understanding of the complexities of the Enterprise to drive value for clients. He has a true passion for startups and mobility and was a past participant and coach at Startup Weekend Chicago. David’s interest in mobility began early on when he founded a company to develop and market applications for the Palm OS.

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