What makes modern mobile apps work

The smartphone is “the center of the tech universe” according to a recent Pew survey, and your employees probably agree. As handheld devices have become central to our day-to-day lives, emerging and established technologies, such as MADP and application virtualization solutions, have tried to shoehorn the clunky enterprise software organizations have relied on to smaller, mobile screens. Unfortunately, creating effective mobile apps is not that easy.

We’re addicted to checking our phones because they provide a novel, engaging experience. An effective enterprise mobility program needs to do the same. Enterprise mobile apps need to offer more than just shovelware – these apps must focus on the new form factor and limit the number of features and options offered. Many enterprise services have a lot going on, arguably too much. The most engaging mobile apps are simple and serve a limited set of core purposes. A few key considerations can result in an enterprise mobile app your employees will actually want to use:

  • Expert insight. Your IT team is surely a talented bunch, but chances are that they are not experts in mobile interface design. You might find a way to port your software to mobile screens in-house, but for your mobility initiative to really succeed, you’re better off bringing in an expert. Sapho provides IT teams a rapid micro application development platform to help them build streamlined, mobile-friendly micro apps on top of existing of the enterprise systems.
  • Thoughtful design. Pablo Picasso said “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” The same can be said for UX designers. To be truly engaging, enterprise mobile app creators should take note of what makes consumer apps work so well. People have become accustomed to tapping a button for approval, swiping through options, and scrolling through feeds of personalized information. A clean, attractive interface can also pull users in; nobody wants to click through multiple cluttered screens to complete a simple task.
  • Push notifications. Push notifications are a critical component of continued app use. Users that opt in to push notifications show 88 percent higher engagement. Notifications can ensure an employee won’t miss critical updates and will enable them to respond to requests without even opening a secondary app. Quick vibrations and red bubbles from Facebook constantly call for your employee’s attention, and your enterprise systems can pull users in the same way with effective push computing.
  • Adaptive experience. We’re focusing on effective mobile experiences here, but smartphones are not the only devices we have to consider for enterprise use. Enterprise users are often just as tied to their laptops, and some companies are adopting tablets and even smart watches. The best apps provide a seamless experience moving between different-sized screens. Sapho delivers its feed and micro apps through a mobile app for those on mobile devices, as a flexible web app for those on a laptop or other web-enabled device, and integrated into messaging platforms to ensure employees always have the information and actionable insights they need wherever they are.
  • Real-time data use. The effective use of data is one of the most promising advances to come of our current phase of tech evolution. Being able to take advantage of data, in real-time, right from our mobile devices empowers employees to make better decisions than ever before. Sapho unleashes all the data from siloed systems and puts all the relevant information literally at your employee's fingertips
  • Security. Security risks are reported to be the biggest barriers to BYOD programs, and the more devices we connect only introduce more security hazards. Understandably, security protocols are central to a successful mobility program. All the valuable data streams that are sent across employees’ different devices need to be secure and if possible, never be stored on the device in the first place, and the systems managing them should be integrated into the enterprise’s security suite. Sapho exists behind an organization’s firewall (either on-premises or in a virtual private cloud) and can provide secure updates to users.
  • Enterprise mobility management. Desktop/systems management has been on employer-owned computers for decades and has managed desktop applications, but the need to monitor and manage applications has since shifted to mobile devices too. There need to be policies in place that manage mobile app controls, updates, and configurations as well as analyze employee application use. Those in charge of the enterprise mobility management tools can also collect valuable user feedback that can be used to improve the user experience.
  • The FUN principle. If there’s an overarching lesson for a successful enterprise mobility program, it’s to be mindful of what goes mobile. Prioritize the FUN principle: focus on user needs. Just because you want your employees to use the systems you’ve spent millions of dollars on doesn’t mean creating an exact replica of the system for a mobile device is the solution. Focus on the tools, actions, and workflows within those systems that employees find useful or need to get their job done, and push those to the mobile device. FUN mobile apps help employees get their jobs done.

Taking enterprise systems on the go is a complicated endeavor, but it’s increasingly important as the workforce diversifies, the process gets easier, and new technology streamlines mobile app development. If you keep the key principles of an effective enterprise mobile app in mind, the IT team and business users will thank you.

Watch how Sapho micro apps can deliver on the mobile experience that your employees crave.

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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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