5 tips for mobile business applications

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Many business managers struggle with creating mobile business applications next to their core systems. This struggle arises from the many requested apps, change requests and the growing challenge to find the right developers. But also because of the experience we have with apps.

Apps that match our lifestyles

In our personal lives we experience apps that match our lifestyles perfectly. We have apps to order food when we get hungry, traveling apps when we want to go somewhere and storage apps when we need to back-up our favourite images and files. Due to this mindset and the availability of technology with fantastic user experience people expect to get the same experience with mobile business applications as well. To take the next step in the consumerization of technology and create the same experience in business applications. I made a shortlist of 5 tips that will help you as a business manager with creating value adding mobile business applications.

1. Integrate

Make sure that the data you need is available. Using an application platform helps to unlock core systems once and re-use the data in multiple business applications. Integration also prevents the need to switch between mobile applications because there are different information sources.

2. Make it consistent

Key to meet your expectations is to get what you thought you should get. This is a golden rule when delivering mobile business applications. Buttons shouldn’t disappear from one place and magically reappear somewhere else. If your menu button is top right on your home page, it needs to be there on every page. Buttons, menus, forms and all other types of functionality need to be implemented in the same way in every business application delivered in an organization. This approach saves learning effort and increases acceptance of new functionality.

3. Simplify

Workforces that are mobile mostly have a few specific tasks. These tasks and processes are best supported with a mobile device which are easy to bring along. And because these tasks are specific, the mobile business application doesn’t need all the functionality and information that a PC version has, so why put it in? Easy to use graphical user interfaces with just the information you need for a specific role or task enhance user experiences a lot. Easy switching between grouped functionality, automated tasks and doing more with less buttons increases user experiences as well.

4. Speed it up

Broad use of (mobile) business applications leads to more questions and ideas from it’s users. It’s advisable to involve key-users in the creation of new functionality. By setting up an agile process, in order to continuously improve functionality and deliver it fast, key-users will keep their interest and commitment to support the project. The lean start-up method can help you get started, which I covered in a previous post.

5. Personalize

The great thing about apps for personal purposes is that if you don’t like them, you simply delete them and try another one. This is a great feature for consumers but doesn’t work in a corporate environment. Business applications, with often lots of users within the company need to be sustainable and reliable. With the wrong tools these conditions diminish user experience. That is why (mobile) business applications need to be adaptable to a person’s specific needs. Role based intelligence and a flexible platform to create light weight portals, released with out of the box HTML5 functionality, can help with this.

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