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Mobile devices have redefined the way we interact with digital technology, and enterprise mobile applications are probably the most interesting example of this shift. While they hold considerable potential for improving business operations, you’ll be right to wonder whether they can really fulfill all the trendy promises seen in the media. Below is a detailed analysis of what these apps can really do and how to harness their potential while avoiding the risks.
Broadly speaking, enterprise applications, also known as enterprise or project management systems, are software solutions used by organizations to automate and optimize processes related to their activities. Quite often, the term is used in the business-oriented context and involves financial transactions or resource management of some kind. However, their functionality is equally relevant for non-profit organizations and governments. Here are just some of the areas covered by enterprise applications:
Depending on their purpose, enterprise solutions may vary in scope from employee-oriented applications to multi-component suites that span the entire company.
On the other hand, smart technologies are rendering legacy systems obsolete, which is a major blow to performance and competitive advantage. Simply put, the mobile-first approach to enterprise app development has now become both more attractive from the user perspective and more feasible in terms of functionality.
Enterprise mobile applications offer a host of benefits to individuals and organizations. Most of these can be assigned to three core domains:
To help you understand whether these are trendy promises or real outcomes, here is a closer look at each of these domains.
Different organizations will likely have different requirements to their enterprise applications. Nevertheless, there are certain categories that are universally in demand. For instance, enterprise mobility solutions provide two-way interaction possibilities. In simple terms, this allows employees to input data into resource planning systems from their phones (which essentially means “from anywhere”), increasing workflow participation.
Next, these applications can take advantage of phone features such as alerts and push notifications. Having the ability to notify a certain group of people in a timely manner has obvious advantages for dynamic workplace environments and may be a viable strategy to enhance engagement with the application.
Flexibility and personalization is another aspect of enterprise systems that have benefited from the mobile-first approach. A good example of this is analytics: with a mobile app, it becomes possible to customize which data to send to each group and what to emphasize to maximize its relevance for a specific department. In the same way, location information can be used to optimize the operations (e.g., adjust directions for delivery).
Finally, mobile apps allow for seamless embedding of multimedia information. While it may not sound particularly groundbreaking, it does have a noticeable positive effect on information delivery and distribution. In many cases, a short instruction video in place of a long list of directions can save a considerable amount of time and resources.
The second aspect of mobile enterprise systems is their capacity to promote innovation. In many ways, it intersects with utility. For example, data analytics are as relevant for the company’s performance as they are for gaining business insight and identifying novel and promising directions. In this light, apps have an advantage of continuity: not only can they gather data on the fly, but also process multiple data points and issue real-time updates.
The first advantage of such comprehensive monitoring is the high precision of insight gained from the analysis. Let’s take a delivery service as an example: a mobile app makes it possible to obtain performance metrics on each vehicle in the fleet and identify areas that cause setbacks at specific times of the day. Similarly, it allows to focus on bottlenecks in the production line or a supply chain. What’s more, the modular nature of these systems allows to integrate components that will automatically send instant alerts and recommendations or suggest cumulative updates to eradicate issues.
The same goes for the applications themselves. By tracking user activity, it becomes possible to better understand the needs of employees and improve user experience while also making interactions more productive. In other words, they create an environment that encourages continuous improvement across the organization.
Enterprise software is an inherently complex product that needs to manage numerous systems and respond to the needs of different departments. This is especially true for the contemporary business environment that often incorporates multinational teams. The mobile-first approach addresses this challenge in two ways.
First, mobile apps are simpler and more accessible than the legacy software thanks to the existence of well-defined sets of guidelines. These guidelines are developed with user experience in mind, which lowers the entry barrier. Even the most advanced solution will only work as long as users know how to make use of its features, which is why the best enterprise team management apps incorporate these principles in their design.
Performance and usability aside, mobile apps are also more user-friendly than legacy alternatives. This user-friendliness stems from the degree of customization they offer, support of multiple languages, and even subtle design details like the alignment with brand aesthetics. In combination, these factors provide a cohesive user experience that can boost employee satisfaction and strengthen the commitment to the company’s vision.
Because of their grand scope, enterprise systems are often perceived as sophisticated tools relevant only for upper-level management. This couldn’t be further from the truth – a modern enterprise app suite can bring value on several levels of the organization:
Employees can enjoy simplified record-keeping, more reliable task management, and get a greater degree of flexibility by having access to work-related information at all times.
Teams can achieve better cohesion and coordination of efforts, distribute talent and resources more effectively, and establish reliable communication channels accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
Departments get the ability to share data in a unified format supported across the company and receive relevant insights in accessible form to aid decision-making.
Companies benefit by gaining reliable, verifiable, and timely business insights, maintain compliance of reports with legal and regulatory standards, and easily share the strategic vision with the entire staff.
Despite all of their advantages, enterprise apps do not solve all problems by simply being there. As any sophisticated technology, they need to be implemented and maintained in the right way. Here are things to consider when choosing one:
As any fairly sophisticated product, an enterprise management system takes time to develop. What’s more, a significant proportion of this time will be spent on understanding what the final product is expected to do and what are the most effective ways of doing it. So, realistically, be prepared to go through the following stages:
While the list might look intimidating, these stages are there to prevent difficulties in the long run, so factoring them into strategic planning is a must.
The days of desktops ruling supreme in the corporate world are long gone, so business owners should be prepared to deal with a plethora of platforms. Naturally, developing for Android and IOS, or even different iterations of Android, can inflate the budget considerably. So a good place to start will be to weigh the benefits and risks of developing for several systems versus choosing one and switching your business to it.
While sufficiently effective on their own, it is after the integration with other software that enterprise apps really work miracles. A fully integrated system is capable of gathering data, converting it to the right format, and managing processes automatically. This approach is equally useful for accounting, HRM, and knowledge management, so identifying points of integration early in the development is absolutely crucial.
Enterprise applications have a reputation of being expensive to develop and maintain. While this might have been justified in the early days of digital revolution, this market segment has since become much more diverse. Nowadays, it is possible to choose the option of the right scope and price to suit your business requirements. So with a clear understanding of needs, there are plenty of ways to cut expenses on their development.
The issue of safe corporate data management is a serious issue on its own, and the use of mobile enterprise apps elevates it to the next level. Granting access to sensitive information from multiple portable devices is a major security risk, with or without the BYOD policy in place. One way to tackle this risk is to implement a robust enterprise security system. However, it is equally important to develop security policies and educate employees on risk mitigation approaches.
While there is no shortage of enterprise app development services, not all of them will work for your business. To know which do, spend some time to familiarize yourself with the developer’s portfolio and check if their previous work looks like what you would expect. Try to match their experience with your goals – after all, a suite for a multinational corporation is not the same as an enterprise app for a small business with a dozen employees.
Mobile enterprise apps offer tremendous value to businesses. However, the advantages come at the cost of careful planning, responsible development, tight integration, and maintenance. Skip those steps – and your company will spend months just to end up with an expensive yet useless tool. Invest some time and attention into the process – and it will pay off in performance, reduced costs, and higher employee satisfaction. So, whether you are looking to simplify operations or gain a competitive edge, enterprise mobile systems may be just what you are looking for.
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