When it comes to mobile apps, IT is now competing at the front end with hordes of consumer applications available to users. This has grown challenging, given the freedoms now associated with mobility. Users can download consumer apps that suit their fancy from just about anywhere. They choose the mobile devices and software that match their work styles and personal preferences.
That puts the onus on IT to recreate the intuitive, consumer-like usability and performance of these apps within the business environment: employees are unlikely to accept business mobile apps that fail to deliver the intuitive experiences they get with a tap or a click in an app store. Behind the scenes, IT teams still have to hold firm on all the typical IT challenges of ensuring back-end integrity, keeping mobile app data secure, and managing costs.
Here are some tips for balancing these requirements:
1) Consider SaaS apps, where relevant. SaaS offerings work across the various mobile OSs workers are already using. They let you keep the cost of acquiring and maintaining the app down, while enabling fast (near-immediate) deployment. So SaaS can be a win-win, provided the software service you choose aligns properly with your business goals.
2) Make sure whatever apps you deploy run across any mobile platform your workforce might be using (iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry, etc.) and delivers that OS’s native look-and-feel. If the app looks different and requires users to make very many modifications to their behavior, the chances are slim that users will accept the apps.
3) Build in some flexibility for customizing apps to your specific business needs. One way that’s been touted as a trend for doing this in 2015 is to use micro apps – often in the form of widgets and plug-ins – for specific capabilities needed by your organization.
4) For apps that can’t be mobilized natively, such as Windows apps, consider using application virtualization to make them available to users on their mobile devices.
To execute on these tips, consider creating a converged mobility platform into which you can plug all the mobile ecosystem components mentioned: SaaS services, networks, cross-OS app development tools, enterprise app stores, and virtualization capabilities. Your users benefit by getting a mobile workspace that gives them secure access to all of their apps, files, and content from both corporate and personal devices. And IT gets a central platform for setting and enforcing policies across devices, apps, and data.