Leveling the enterprise app playing field for IT and end users

According to a recent Forrester study of more than 100 line of business and IT leaders, enterprise software is not meeting employees’ needs due to complexity, difficult-to-complete workflows, and a poor mobile experience. This research unveiled that, because of these challenges, 75 percent of employees struggle to access information and complete tasks in their enterprise systems.  

IT teams, including enterprise app developers, should take note: if the applications provided to employees aren’t easy to use, employees will ignore them and find other ways to get the information they need to complete their work. Leveling the enterprise app playing field is easier when IT teams understand the mindset of everyone who interfaces with those apps. If IT can recognize what end users look for in enterprise apps, they can gain a better understanding of how they should invest in, build, and select the apps they implement. Understanding end users can also help IT work more effectively across the board. 

The IT mindset

When we talk about the IT team, we are referring to anyone responsible for implementing an app – custom built or packaged software – in the workplace. This includes app developers, enterprise architects, application owners, and others that design, build, select, and install software. This also includes individuals who train employees on how to use that software. Each of these groups approaches enterprise apps much differently than the actual every day users of those apps.  

Take mobile app developers for example. It is common for them to include as many features as possible in an app to ensure it meets the needs of the widest range of users. They also want to make sure that no important feature from a desktop version gets missed as the app is migrated to a mobile platform. The problem intensifies when developers add 10 new features for every batch of new customers. As our CTO Peter Yared puts it, many enterprise software vendors add “appeasement features” to make a sale or “appease” a customer. And like discussed above, when that software is then turned into a mobile app, it becomes cumbersome and hard for users to find what they need.

Now let’s look at application owners. They have invested heavily in their currently applications – both in dollars and in development time – and have too much business-critical data and workflows tied to the systems to make a change. Case in point: enterprises spend $3.5 trillion on enterprise software annually and much of that budget is allocated to the support and maintenance of legacy systems that are already in place. Ripping out existing solutions and replacing them with a new SaaS solution or set of mobile apps simply isn’t feasible for most CIOs and CTOs. Instead, these application owners want to modernize their systems by building on top of their existing solutions. They look to solutions that will integrate the systems they already have, simplify complex workflows, and improve the user experience. 

Appealing to end users

When it comes to enterprise apps, today’s workers prioritize three capabilities: access to personalized content, easy-to-accomplish tasks, and the flexibility to choose how (and when) they work. Think about the apps we use in our personal lives that enable us to get useful information and complete actions. These are apps like Facebook or OpenTable, and they’re useful to us because they create personalized experiences, they’re customized to our individual needs, and they allow quick actions to be taken in a few clicks on both a computer or a mobile device.

This trend is widespread. That same Forrester study points to the need for personalized enterprise apps. Three in four users said that when it comes to data, they’d prefer to access a smaller set of personalized data over a comprehensive data set. In other words, employees only want the information that’s most relevant to them so they can make better decisions. Additionally, 30 percent said they want personalized notifications of tasks that need to be completed, and 28 percent would like a personalized feed of individual actions and updates. 

The winning combination

To drive user engagement and ultimately provide apps that exceed worker expectations, the IT group needs to build or select apps that are personalized to individual users, that simplify complex workflows, and are available on any device (or through any channel). Workplace apps should deliver information in a personalized feed and alert workers when there is something important they need to pay close attention to. 

Fortunately, technologies exist today to solve this problem, namely machine learning, push notifications, and micro apps. When combined, IT teams can build apps that allow end users to work effectively within the systems they already know, yet never actually have to interface with the legacy systems. As the IT team caters to the needs of end users, they’ll be able to build, deliver, and implement apps that everyone will use. This will set the IT team up for success and level the playing field across the enterprise.

Watch how Sapho levels the playing field by allowing IT teams to build micro apps that exceed employee expectations:

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Natalie Lambert is the Vice President of Marketing at Sapho. She joins from Citrix where she held multiple product marketing leadership positions. Before that, Natalie was a principal analyst at Forrester Research where she was the leading expert on end user computing.

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