How intelligent apps are delivering the future of work

The era of enterprise mobility can be traced back to when early-adopter enterprises began investing in virtualization technology in order to make critical business apps available for mobile. Unfortunately, such ‘original’ enterprise apps were largely unusable. These thick, multi-screen apps offered a poor user experience, limited platform and operating system (OS) support and unsatisfactory navigation. Employee adoption and retention was meager, to say the least.   

In and around 2008, the proliferation of the consumer app market, which was ushered in by the advent of the smartphone, ignited demand for greater business mobility. As workers experienced the ‘power’ of mobile apps in their personal lives, frequent and loud requests for mobile apps began to circulate in the workplace. As a result, the enterprise mobile app development platform industry was born. 

In the years since, this industry has had no shortage of peaks and valleys. Form MEAPs to MADPs and MBaaS to RMADs, these acronym-heavy technology platforms have each had their fair share of exciting breakthroughs and promises undelivered. Vendors have come and gone, citizen developers have emerged and IT and business units continue to debate necessity versus nicety. 

Although challenges to enterprise app mobilization and modernization remain - in particularly time, cost and lack of skilled resources - there have been significant achievements in both processes and outcomes. Enterprise mobile apps are no longer device or OS specific and user experience is of the upmost in importance. Overall, adoption and retention rates are trending in the right direction. But getting to this point has taken a long time, and the consumer app market has already moved on.     

The Era of Intelligent Apps is Upon Us   

As enterprises continue to transform their legacy apps for the modern digital era, they are still trying to keep pace with the rapid innovation of the consumer app market. From voice dictation and chat bots to Google Home and Amazon Alexa, ‘smart’ devices and apps are now part of our daily lives - for better or worse.   

Moreover, such innovations are also ripe for transforming processes and workflows in the workplace. As such, enterprises should prepare, as demand is coming; and it’s coming real soon.   

Simply providing mobile enabled access to key applications and data sources is not enough to satisfy the digital natives that are inherently mobile first or mobile only. While mobile access is important, the workforce - 75 percent of which will be millennials by 2020. Thus, the demand for consumer-like and intelligent experiences that they’re accustomed to in their personal lives will skyrocket even further.   

Intelligent apps powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are no longer a futuristic nicety; rather they are a present-day necessity that every enterprise must get on board with sooner rather than later if they want to compete and attract and retain top talent. With benefits aplenty, ‘smart apps’ can expedite business transformation and deliver unprecedented new insights, while unleashing next level productivity. Here are three ways intelligent apps are beginning to deliver on the future of work, today. 

Personalized and Contextually Aware Notifications 

When one speaks about contextually aware mobile apps, they are most commonly referencing apps that are aware of geography and provide alerts based on location. Waze’s ability to feed shopping and restaurant ads based on a drivers’ precise location or the Weather Channel app’s capacity to update a forecast street by street, are two basic examples of contextually aware apps.  

For the enterprise, apps that can deliver personalized and context aware notifications have the ability to significantly streamline the most important information that workers’ need, when and where they need it. For example, a salespersons’ workflow - when going to meet with a customer - entails pulling up their CRM record, finding the address and navigating to the location. However, instead of thumbing through multiple steps to access the intended data, a context aware app is already aware of the salespersons activity. Based on their calendar and traffic route, the app can surface the relevant data via a notification that allows the user to click and go, streamlining their process and increasing efficiencies.   

Such personalization is not only a significant time saver, but also helps employees and systems make quicker decisions. Context aware apps can also improve app security by restricting users access to certain app screens or data based on security parameters, such as location or insecure network connection. Thus, by providing the user with access to other relevant parts of the app that are needed and mitigating security pitfalls only on pre-designated components or screens, allows for an uninterrupted and seamless user-experience.   

Automation through Conversation   

Chatbots and conversational interfaces are used increasingly in our daily lives. But the words, “Siri do xyz” now have tremendous benefits to our work lives.  

Bots help automate complex problems and can pull information in short order through natural language processing. Significant gains in productivity, increased response time, improved data accuracy and decision making are all real outcomes of chatbot adoption. Such practical advantages led Gartner to predict that by 2019, 40 percent of enterprises will actively use chatbots to facilitate business processes using natural-language interactions. 

For the enterprise, chatbots can help automate help desk resources by handling routine requests with immediate responses, and then notify the correct person to handle further via push notifications or alerts. Such automation can also be leveraged for conversational workflows, which apps can inherently surface the relevant data needed without having to search to find it. Bots can benefit tasks as simple as an employee requesting time off for a specific date, or as complex as helping with inventory management; notifying warehouse workers when products are out of stock and using voice based interactions to re-order supplies.   

It’s All About Creating ‘Right Time Moments’ 

Forrester defines ‘mobile moments’ as “the point and time when someone pulls out mobile device and gets what he or she wants immediately.” This ability to deliver information to the right user(s) at the right time(s) on their desired device may have always been the bespoken promise of enterprise mobility, but modern intelligent apps make such moments the norm and not the exception.  

When workers are at their desks, they have access to any number of programs and applications that allow them to complete all sorts of tasks. But remote workers - now almost 50 percent of the entire workforce and growing - don’t require such vast amounts of applications at their disposal. Instead, they need only what’s essential to completing the current job at hand.   

What’s great about Intelligent apps is that they continuously get smarter, meaning their recognition of when and what constitutes a ‘right time’ moment will continually improve. Such moments can lead to unprecedented improvements in productivity, customer service and employee turnover, equating to cost saving and revenue gains over time.   

There’s no other way to put it, intelligent apps are now essential to expedite business transformation. Contextual awareness, conversational interfaces and personalized apps all provide the ‘right time’ moments that users want, and are increasingly expecting in the workplace. Those enterprises that embrace this reality will be the ones that position themselves to succeed at delivering on the future of work.   

Kristen Rachels, Vice President of Marketing & Communications at PowWow Mobile 

Image Credit: Syda Productions / Shutterstock