During the last six months I have had the pleasure of researching, interviewing, and analyzing more than 130 organizations who are on their journey to enterprise mobility. Across many great findings, we stumbled upon a couple of patterns and learnings. The most stated one is: Simplicity is the key to success. However, many approaches, which claim to be simple, have failed miserably on the promise to mobilize an entire enterprise. Here are the top three approaches that have failed based on our findings:
1) “Each vendor already has an app I can use.” – Demystifying the “an app for each enterprise application” approach.
Your first thought might be – all of the backend systems we use already have mobile applications that I can buy and deploy, done! While that sounds like the most logical approach, you will quickly realize that it’s very costly and not very efficient for you or your employees. Each app has its own permissions, security concerns, and architecture, as well as a separate login language and, most importantly, a different user experience.
For your employees that means they have to download and regularly update those same tens to hundreds of apps on their mobile devices, login to each of them separately, and figure out how to navigate each of their different user experiences – resulting in the need for a great deal of training and causing a lot of potential frustration and possibly decreased usage (equally a lot of wasted money!).
Best practice from successful peers: Get everything into one mobile app and free the user from the burden of dealing with multiple, sophisticated backend applications on a small screen.
2) “There is a specific solution for that.” – Demystifying the “best of breed” approach.
A typical pattern on the journey to enterprise mobility looks like this... The first corporate app gets built in-house by either an intern or a passionate developer using developer tools for one specific mobile ecosystem (e.g., iOS). There is some success with the app and soon the organization invests in a Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM) solution in order to securely deliver enterprise mobility. With the rise in demand for more mobile apps, a developer framework is not sufficient any more, and the organization invests into a Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP).
Companies who build with MADP tools typically have to integrate multiple components. While the tool may be helpful for creating a custom app, building integrations with backend systems takes significant time and effort. To solve this, a new market has evolved providing Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS), which connects to enterprise backend systems and exposes standardized REST endpoints.
However, as an experienced IT leader you want to avoid a multi-vendor, multi-technology, multi-skill environment whenever possible. Especially when you are planning to realize targeted mobile use cases like accessing a pay stub or submitting a time card, the best of breed solutions cause too much overhead.
Best practice from successful peers: Find an integrated end-to-end solution, which offers development capabilities, integration capabilities, secure and efficient distribution, and ease-of-use for your employees.
3) “Why don’t we mobilize our Intranet via HTML5?” – Demystifying the “HTML5” approach.
Relaunching your Intranet using a mobile-friendly HTML5 approach seems like another viable option. Since the relaunch needs to be done anyway, building it in HTML5 so that it can be accessed via all mobile devices only adds an incremental cost to the project. However, accessing the Intranet via mobile devices limits the success of your enterprise mobility strategy in a lot of ways.
- Users can access content and collaborative elements, but often are not able to get important processes done. This would require you to migrate other systems into an HTML5 experience, which can greatly confuse users and puts a lot of burden on IT.
- Users are not able to leverage native mobile device capabilities like the camera, GPS, Bluetooth, credit card readers, etc. Basic, yet powerful, processes like travel expenses, time recording, and idea sharing are simply not do-able.
- The user experience is not optimized for small screens, but optimizing the user experience would mean developing another solution.
Best practice from successful peers: HTML5 is a valid option, but it is very limiting and does not scale very well. Therefore, most customers who start with HTML5 switch quickly to a hybrid or native approach.
Keep It SIMPLE
Once you have started down one of the paths above, there is no way to get back to simplicity. Based on our research, success comes from being simple and agile - start quickly, possibly fail fast, and pivot faster with the right end-to-end solution. This eBook shares more of our research findings and provides all of the ingredients you need to leverage to make your mobility initiative successful – using the SIMPLE approach.
Have you tried one of these approaches? What was your experience? Please share your failures and/or advice. Ping me on Twitter.