How many apps do our employees need? The question is fundamentally misleading as it doesn’t really matter. The fact is people only use a very small number of apps directly, but use many through their phones’ notification capabilities. For example, I have two sources for weather: the standard iPhone weather coming from The Weather Channel, and Dark Sky, which provides more details during the day. The key is that I use both mainly through notifications. In 9 out of 10 situations, the only thing I really need to know is what to wear.
As the chart below shows, there is real data that supports my personal observation. While the average adult has about 27 apps on their smartphone, we use three apps for about three fourths of the time. Digging deeper reveals that those apps are often connected apps, like Facebook and Facebook Messenger. You basically have one flagship app and jump to satellite apps as needed.
Employee apps in reality–processes, information, culture
For most employees the situation is not unlike that in the consumer world. On a use case level, it may look like you need dozens of apps, like an HR app, an app for document access, a time management app, an app for expenses and, of course, the whole set of acronym apps for ERP, CRM, SCM, and EIM. But you don't! You don’t need to know your entire HR data just to see the latest pay slip. You also don’t need a multi-dimensional chart of the entire organization just to find out when your shift starts tomorrow. Leave your desktop thinking behind; the desktop is dead anyway.
The fact is employees primarily want to get their job done, and they just need a consolidated view on their core processes and information. Align that with your company's culture and values, and you’re good to go. For example, see the notification below that I got from the Sitrion ONE employee app. It makes me aware that I need to plan my vacation days and if I am ready, the notification takes me directly to that vacation request in Sitrion ONE. I am not just getting the notification directly from HR, I am actually able to execute the process without ever visiting any other system, not even the HR system.
Don't risk app fatigue
The data from the chart at the top of this post suggests that people are only using those apps that always add value. Don’t risk app fatigue among your employees. The one thing we all need to be aware of is that we’re not competing against the other enterprise apps—we’re competing for attention. No organization has the power to push Facebook aside, so why are you fragmenting the little power you have by building custom purpose apps?
Provide one employee app that includes all the core elements like: corporate communication, news and alerts, processes from HR or operations (maybe from SAP), and content access (maybe from Office 365 or SharePoint). And when unified, you'll win the attention of your employees and make work better.
Links you might like:
ComScore 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report
Guide: Aligning Employees with Your Company Culture and Values
ReadWrite Article: How to Avoid App Fatigue in the Enterprise