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Enabling mobile in the workforce with three key components of an enterprise app

(Image credit: Image Credit: Carballo / Shutterstock)

For any forward-thinking CEO, the mobile enablement of the workforce is of paramount importance. The world is quickly adapting; everything is now more dynamic and distributed, and the workforce is now demanding information instantly wherever they are. Yet, maintaining consistency and focus across a far-flung enterprise team isn't easy. More than ever, mobile teams need seamless access to a score of resources—all of which need to have been designed to accurately represent the brand and its products to buyers in complex market environments.

Enabling the mobile workforce requires enterprises to address a host of issues around management of mobile devices, data, applications, security, and expenses. But as solutions for these challenges become increasingly commoditised, the focus is shifting to optimising the user experience.

Enterprise-grade mobile apps can equip mobile teams with a set of high-impact tools. In addition to delivering wins in productivity and employee engagement, a well-built enterprise app offers a distribution channel via smartphone or tablet for updated marketing collateral and sales content, ensuring that the organisation's frontline personnel always have the most current information at their disposal.

But for maximum utility and return on investment (ROI), enterprise apps need to be built for one or more specific use cases. Because one-size-fits-all apps simply aren't capable of achieving the results associated with world-class business agendas, brands need to adopt a custom approach, incorporating a handful of essential enterprise app characteristics into highly functional mobile solutions.

The challenge for IT is to find a fast way to make established enterprise applications adequately meet the demands of this new work model. Complicating that challenge is the set of critical mainframe or legacy host-based applications, with their long-standing obstacles to integration.

As an organisation with a rich a heritage in producing enterprise grade apps for a number of blue chip companies, we at Pocket App believe that you should pay special attention to the following three elements when looking to develop a corporate app:

·         Intranet – Your mobile application should bring the important elements of the intranet alive on mobile. We have helped a bank streamline a legacy intranet system which had become cumbersome to use and maintain. The new platform allowed them direct contact with their employee base and provided access to content in a more visual and interactive way.

Mobile intranet brings so many benefits to enterprise, allowing employees to achieve results in more timely action, through the ability of logging on anywhere. A mobile intranet makes it easier for employees to communicate on the go. This will improve communication in your organisation.

Plus, because people always have their mobile devices handy, having a mobile intranet makes it easy for them to get the help they need, whenever they need it. This improves brand loyalty and reputation for your company.

·         Training – Your application should enable you to deliver training via mobile / tablet. Your mobile workforce shouldn’t have to congregate at a centralised location to receive up to date training. At Pocket App, we have developed numerous applications that allow sales employees to learn from anywhere. We have even produced applications which allow for the gamification of training.

Training and development managers are beginning to see the endless potential of mobile training. That is because mobile training not only offers learners the ability to learn on-the-go, but also allows them to gain immediate access to information whenever and wherever they really need it.

By pinpointing primary learning objectives even before you begin the design process and considering the background of your audience and their learning needs, mobile training is an effective way to develop the skill sets or offer the information that is needed quickly, conveniently, and without wasting time on irrelevant course content.

·         Enterprise accessibility - Common sense dictates that an app should be optimised for online operating environments, but what happens if the user is working from a remote location? The app, like the device, should have some utility in the event the worker is without Internet access. We produced an application for a national supplier of timber and materials which boasted offline functionality to enable the sales teams to interact with their customer effectively in more remote locations across the UK.

The above list is in no way exhaustive, but should provide some food for thought. In terms of the design, there are many additional considerations such as:

·         Customisation - The company should have customised user interfaces and other features that reflect the brand's nature and business requirements.

·         CRM integration – By enabling mobile reps to store customer information straight to your company's CRM system via the app, they can create an exceptionally efficient and cohesive information environment and presentation. 

·       Embrace the BYOD trend — Companies need to embrace BYOD – to adopt and adapt to this emerging trend, and provide the countermeasures to defend the company and protect the brand. This can be done through a number of steps such as defining policies, designing processes and procedures to protect intellectual property and sensitive information. Also, setting expectations so everybody knows what will happen if the device is stolen or lost. Lastly performing regular audits to understand how the information is being used, by whom, when, from/to where and how. 

·         Showing is better than telling - Having the capability to perform customer demonstrations and display app based visuals for use in the selling process should be a key feature.

The good news is that brands that invest adequate time and energy in laying the foundation for a sales-app implementation can reap big rewards. A solid mobile strategy improves end-user adoption of CRM because it makes accessing and modifying customer information easier. After that, all you need to do is allow your marketing and sales teams to do what they do best. If you need any additional tips on how to maximise the efficiency of your mobile team, just give us a call.

Paul Swaddle, Co-Founder, Pocket App (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Carballo / Shutterstock

Paul co-founded in 2011, and is helping lead this start-up from 3 people to 30 people in 18 months. Pocket App delivers mobile strategy, design and development and importantly post launch marketing for apps, mobile web apps and all things digital.