Top Tips To Develop An Enterprise Mobile App
App Builder Appy Pie, December 12: Enterprise Mobile Apps are the mobile apps created or bought by individual organizations for their workers to carry out functions pertaining to the running of the organization. These apps are created with the intent of only being used by the employees of the organization.
The enterprise mobile apps may be of different types including approval apps, field service apps, inventory apps, human resources apps and more. Everyone today uses a mobile phone or a smart phone and an enterprise mobile app enables the users to improve productivity, maintain compliance, and save time.
When your organization is taking the decision to develop a new mobile app, in addition to financial resources more factors like human resources, time as a resource, and infrastructural resources need to be taken into account. This decision can actually prove to be one of the biggest milestones for the organization’s journey.
There might be a lot of things to consider while taking the decision to go ahead with the development of the app but it is worth the trouble as it helps the organization become more productive. Companies who have made an investment and integrated mobile apps within the workplace have managed to attain insurmountable benefits in the past.
An enterprise mobile app has the ability to ensure additional productivity from employees by a measure of around 250 extra hours.
Enterprise mobile apps in this day and age have become a vital part of various organizations. These apps provide a protected and safe platform to the allowing them to share and discuss different aspects of the business or business plans. The fear of data theft and misuse of the company’s information is alleviated here. The major benefits of building an enterprise mobile app for your organization may be listed as under:
A Considerable Reduction In Cost
One of the major benefits of going mobile through enterprise mobile apps is the considerable reduction in the expenses incurred. For a traditional organization a lot of papers and other resources are used for operationalization of various functionalities within the business, these papers are then discarded only to be recycled later. The cost of these papers may be substantial in bigger setups or even in small ones. The papers have not proven to be the most cost-effective or convenient manner of holding all the company or business data. As the transition happens from paper to enterprise mobile apps the use of papers gets limited reducing the costs while providing a lot more secure platform.
81% of the fortune 500 companies today are amidst planning the launch of their HTML5 mobile apps.
Improvement In Productivity
This platform also improves the efficiency of the employees by giving them easy access to all the data at any time of the day from anywhere. Today the businesses are going global and setting higher quality parameters where the difference in time zones might present itself as a big challenge. Getting access to business related data might not even be possible at times when offices located in different countries are associated. Enterprise mobile apps help the organization overcome this hurdle by making it possible for any employee anywhere to access relevant data at any given time bringing about a higher overall productivity and heighten the prospects of an improved sales flow.
59% employees have experienced a rise in their productivity upon working with mobile apps.
An Enhanced Customer Experience
A quick response to customers’ grievances, concerns, or complaints goes a long way in helping the business garner a favorable reputation and score higher on customer satisfaction. Timely response to the customer’s queries will help the organization establish a wide loyal customer pool, but in a regular office setting this might not even be possible. An enterprise mobile app opens up a door connecting you to the customers through a chat support feature within the app. This makes it possible for the apt executive to look into the issue, address it, and provide a resolution in real time. Not only does this build a rich user experience but also helps boost up your sales and revenue.
Important decisions in an organization are only taken after a deep and intense series of meetings and discussions. This is usually a long drawn out process where all the participant members would have to be available at the same time and at the same location. However, with enterprise mobile apps, this process goes through an overhaul where the whole team can connect on the same virtual platform in an instant, irrespective of the different locations. These meetings can happen over audio or video calls which expedite the whole process and aid faster decision making.
71% of the IT professionals have expressed their belief that mobility in their organizations can accomplish what the internet did in the 1990s.
So now that you are convinced that you need to get enterprise mobile apps for your organization, what do you think comes next? Let us discuss the ways in which you can build your enterprise mobile apps.
Ways To Build Enterprise Mobile App
Custom Native Apps
Most of the enterprise mobile apps today are custom built. This is probably the oldest way to make the apps which are developed to address a specific business need. Using a device side SDK like iOS SDK, Android SDK, or Windows SDK to custom build a native app has proven to be one of the fastest ways to do it.
When you want the app to work across different devices or OSes, you will in fact have to develop different apps for each platform which is not only going to be extremely time taking, but will also incur heavy costs. In addition to the challenge of time, there is a sure shot possibility of error and bug list while trying to morph the code into the number of platforms.
Even after the app is completed there are further challenges of security when it comes to the backend integration. To counter this, if you incorporate user authorization and connectivity the complexities and complications increase manifold.
The integration can actually end up taking 50 to 70% of the development effort and might take months of efforts from a dedicated team of developers.
Most of the organizations have realized the delay and time that it takes to build apps the traditional way and have begun taking the advantage of the tools available for cross-platform development of their enterprise mobile apps. Through the use of cross-platform tools you can build native apps, HTML5 apps or even the Hybrid apps.
HTML5 apps, though naturally cross-platform, lack the ability to control & utilize all the capabilities of the mobile device that is used to run it.
There are certain cross-platform tools available that enable the developer to write the code for once and generate the code for all the smart phone operating systems. In this way, the developer would still be able to execute native apps across all devices without spending all that time in developing 4 different versions of the code.
This format takes care of the speed issue but the issue of integration and security still loom large on the enterprise.
The third option – Hybrid apps are a combination of native and HTML5 apps. Here the user interface is in HTML5 but the communication to the devices is accomplished through device specific containers that leverage the native sensors and capabilities of that device.
Hybrid apps are unique in providing all the benefits of native apps while bypassing the hassle to maintain different codes for different devices or operating systems. However, the larger problem of integration and security still persists
Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP)
MADPs are built specifically for enterprise apps that offers an integrated environment to build apps in addition to taking care of the integration and security issues between the mobile apps and enterprise apps.
In recent times the MADPs have emerged as the one stop shop solutions for enterprises that intend to build integrated mobile apps. There is however a challenge here as well, as MADPs are built on legacy software architectures. More often than not, these use proprietary technologies that find it tough to stay abreast of the evolving and dynamic nature of mobile device capabilities. Most of the MADPs are not as sophisticated in capability as the cross-platform development kits.
However, the most challenging part of MADP is that their integration capabilities are restricted to their proprietary technology. This basically means that you would be eternally restricted to that particular vendor’s technology. Building an enterprise app through MADP entails an IT procurement of servers and a great number of developers who have the capability to build and maintain the apps. This essentially becomes way too expensive in addition to having the disadvantage of long drawn out development and deployment cycles.
In the recent times, an alternative solution has emerged which takes care of the enterprise integration problems for cross-development platforms termed as Backend-as-a-Service. This solution was opted for, by many vendors as against the expensive and high maintenance MADP, in order to augment their tools for cross-platform developments.
BaaS offers a number of enterprise integrations along with security and user authentication which in turn helps the developers to combine BaaS and their tools for cross-platform developments in order to build apps that would have the ability to run on any device. Developers availing BaaS to integrate their apps with the enterprise applications need not worry about the backend anymore.
Though BaaS is quite easy to integrate with the cloud systems, it still is quite challenging to integrate to an on-premise enterprise application. In practicality, majority of these enterprise mobile apps are either customized or do not have the appropriate APIs for integration and need sizeable enhancements to be mobile-enabled making it difficult to mobilize traditional, on-premise applications. Additionally, customer would need to buy and maintain at least two tools including the cross-platform development tool and BaaS for the development and launch of each app. This effectively means that there would be a need for 2 teams each for developers, maintenance and myriad other such functions.
Model Driven Platform-as-a-service
The latest method to build enterprise mobile apps is with a model driven platform. This model driven platform offers app lifecycle management and enables non-professional programmers to develop integrated enterprise mobile apps through modelling the business logic as the platform generates the code in the background.
This way to develop enterprise mobile apps allows anyone who is a little tech savvy to create full featured and fully integrated apps without any coding. This platform enables the seamless integration with enterprise applications, both on-premise and in the cloud. This whole process can actually be accomplished in mere number of days as opposed to other methods of app development that take months just for the integration part.
Which method is best for you?
Though we have listed five different methods out here to develop enterprise mobile apps, but it is important that you choose the one that suits you the most. To decide which method suits you the most, first and foremost what matters is your unique requirements. The only thing that matters while choosing a method or way to develop your enterprise mobile app is what your need is!
Tips To Develop Your Own Enterprise Mobile App
1. Pick The Most Suitable Mobile App Development Platform
Enterprise mobile apps need to be designed with the important consideration in mind that it would be used across different mobile devices with an array of screen sizes and resolutions. The app must be able to offer the same look and feel across all kinds of devices, OSes, and configurations. To make this possible it is important to be aware of the kind of platforms the employees at your organization might be using and it is on the basis of that the a list of probable mobile app platforms needs to be formulated. Additionally it is also important to consider the web based business apps that are more generic and have the ability to be used a lot more widely independent of the device platform. It might be wise at this stage to consider cross-platform application development.
2. Patching In Services Relevant To The Business
In addition to the sensors that are available on the mobile devices there is a wide scope of exploiting a number of third party applications by integrating them into your enterprise mobile app. Apps that might give you traffic information, weather updates, access & notifications of relevant news items, maps, or even social media feeds if it is of relevance.
3. Emphasize On Task-Specific Apps
As you start out on your mission to develop your enterprise mobile app it is wise to first identify the particular business problem that needs a solution and then set out to work on building an app that would be targeting to solve the business problem. If, however you make the mistake of building your app that would try and address too many things right at the beginning you might not only make the app bulky, but also confuse the users with things that might not be of great interest to the users. The basic idea is to emphasize on selected things to ensure faster and better performance of the app.
4. Make Use Of The Device’s Sensors & Form Factor.
Most of the devices today are loaded with a number of quite useful and intelligent sensors and features including 3G or LTE, GPS, a camera, Bluetooth, accelerometers, Wi-Fi, and more. Use and exploit these sensors to the best of your capacity whether is something as basic as auto-rotate function of the device or taking a picture, or integrating the pictures with a cloud, or even get updates or notifications based on their real time location.
5. Make Sure That The UI/UX Is Top Of The Line
While building or creating an enterprise mobile app, it is important that you focus on offering great user experience. It is true that even if your app is loaded up with extraordinary features, the inability of the app to deliver a smooth, easy to use experience might lead to the failure of the app. A simple and intuitive app that is bug-free and offers top of the line UI/UX is a lot more likely to become a great success. It is wise, therefore, to focus on enhancing the experience your employees have while using the enterprise mobile app, so that their productivity improves.
6. Give Users The Power Of Productivity
Mobile devices are one of the closest or the most intimate devices for a user. When you use it as a platform to launch an enterprise mobile app, you are essentially opening up a world of possible interactions and measures that can enhance the employees’ productivity. However, if your enterprise mobile app only maintains the same status quo even on this versatile platform, the app becomes redundant. A thoughtfully built app holds the potential to increase the productivity of the employees by making their jobs easier and revolutionize the workforce through small changes that can make the work quicker or the process smoother.
7. Multiple Iterations To Improve The Performance Of The App
Your app design is ready and structure, but it is important now to keep making iterations for the addition of new features and to keep fixing the bugs that are imminent. A strong basic foundation would enable you to finally send out or push out the latest developments and updates of the app. The app should also have a feature that would allow the users to send out feedbacks or report problems with the app. A rich pool of feedback and timely report of errors and bugs go a long way in opening up opportunities for further iterations and add some innovative features in the future.
8. Real-Time Advantage
Mobile devices are unique in the fact that they are almost always with us, and keeps us virtually connected. It is this trait and feature that needs to be exploited by a good enterprise mobile app that can help the business become impressively responsive. When real-time updates are incorporated into the enterprise mobile app, the users or the employees in this case can respond to the changing conditions based on the real time notifications they receive whether it is the CRM system, logistics or resource management, or a third party application like traffic conditions or weather updates.
Prototype or mock-ups are especially important when you are building an enterprise mobile app for the first time. This helps the user seek recommendations from the decision-makers and invite recommendations from the prospective users. It is possible to create a realistic mock-up of your enterprise mobile app with the help of one of the many wire-framing and mock-up tools to present it to your team to give them a demonstration of the features, UI/UX, and the scope of the app. When you create a demo for the app it goes a long way in helping integrate new features and in making future iterations to develop a robust product.
10. Keep It Simple
It is important that the app be simple in its intent, it should not be loaded with hundreds of features. Doing so can make the app confusing for the user finally leading to abandonment. While the app might have some chosen features, but the main focus should lie on solving the needs of the employees who would be using the app. The developers, while adding any new features to the app must consider the interests and limitations of the employees that the app would be intended for.
11. Address The Expectations Of The Users
While developing the app, step into the shoes of the end user and try and think like them, understand their expectations from the app, even before you begin designing it. Try to get into the user’s work profile, the problems they might be facing, the areas which could do with some help or improvement and then begin drawing the design of the app and writing the code.
12. Pay Extra Attention To Deliver The Highest Levels Of Safety
An enterprise mobile app is intended to be used for the businesses pertaining to the organization of company that it is developed for, which means that there would be a lot of sensitive enterprise data and employee information that would either be stored on or shared through it. It is for this reason that while building an enterprise mobile app it is important to pay the highest regard to security. You simply cannot afford to take chances with factors that would impact data integrity and security of the company. To control the access to app, key features like encryption, login credentials, or two step security authentication on remote access and more may be incorporated. This however, should not hamper the overall user experience within the app.
13. Give Due Importance & Thought To Context
For an enterprise mobile app it is supremely important to integrate with the workflow of the real world. There are quite a few considerations that an app developer must bear in mind like should the app really need an internet connection to function, what would be the industrial settings included in the app, and would the end-user be using the app single handedly. Context is therefore of great importance when it comes to deciding the worth of the app especially from the point of view of the user.
14. Be Aware Of The Cost Involved
In matters of business, money is one of the primary concerns and each decision is taking while keeping the budget and involved finances in consideration. Whether you decide to get the app developed internally or outsource it, the steps are virtually the same. It is important to determine the costs involved before taking this decision. Each stage of development involves a certain amount of cost and it is important to be aware of it.
15. Let Performance Be The Priority
It has been proven time and again, that for a user or an employee in the case of an enterprise mobile app is most concerned about its functionality. Developers working on an enterprise mobile app should pay the maximum attention to create an app that would be hassle free and have a smooth navigation. It has been observed that an app that has limited number of strong features invariably does better than an app that is loaded with numerous but less efficient features. Hence, as a developer it is imperative that you provide the highest priority to the app’s performance.
16. A Rigorous Support & Maintenance
Most industries thrive when they keep abreast of the trends, and this is especially true when it comes to the mobile apps and the digital world. The mobile app platforms keep rolling out updates, and it is important therefore for your enterprise mobile app to be regularly updated and frequently tested on the updated versions so that they offer enhanced performance, high security, and a bug-free, smooth user experience.
Also as the organization or your enterprise undergoes any changes, its interaction and connectivity with the app is going to change as well. There has to be a sizeable investment therefore on the support and maintenance of the app in these ongoing scenarios. There are only a handful of organizations who would actually have the bandwidth and expertise for providing support and maintenance of their apps, hence outsourcing the support and maintenance of your enterprise mobile apps is a good option. The cost attached to this aspect also needs to be looked into while designing the budget.
17. Take Backend Into Consideration
Since it is a purely technological product, an enterprise mobile app needs to consider a number of technical points like would the application need to access real-time information or share data, would it need to access the existing data or systems, what kind of integration and API work would it entail, and more. The bottom line here too is that the app should be efficient enough to be able to address the needs of the end users i.e. the employees.
The aforementioned points can actually determine whether your enterprise mobile app will be a success or failure. A good developer would know the ways to utilize the power of technological innovations, unique tools, and techniques to ensure only the strongest performance standards.