02/04/2015

By Yad Jaura, Marketing Director W. Europe, Globo


What have enterprise mobile apps and consumer mobile apps got in common? The answer is probably nowhere near enough. Because as research shows, while things may be different on the desktop when it comes to mobile devices the consumer app reigns supreme.

Consumer apps are apps that people want to use, and are prepared to pay to use. Such apps live or die by their appeal, functional and visual. They’re built from the ground up to be intuitive, to look good and to give users a satisfying, memorable experience. They’re enjoyable and fun to use.

Enterprise apps on the other hand are apps that people have to use. While they may pay lip service to form, function is usually the name of the game. Why bother with user appeal when users don’t have a choice? Build it and they will come.

But a recent report from global analyst firm IDC suggests otherwise. IDC’s latest Mobile Enterprise Software Survey found that almost 30% of enterprise mobile application projects in the UK and US ultimately fail. At first glance that seems an unusually high figure but in truth the odds are stacked against such projects from the very start.

A typical enterprise app attempts to take a paper forms-based process - ordering and stock control in the field for example - and replace it with a smartphone or tablet app. Being entirely field based there is no desktop or Web alternative for users to fall back on: it’s the mobile app or nothing. So by definition there has to be 100% acceptance. Anything less and the project will be deemed to have failed. All it takes is one unhappy employee and the time and money invested in the project is wasted.

Enterprise apps have to work not just for the organisation but for the user too, every user. App design is one element of this. But so too is development, testing and consultation. The current generation entering the workforce has grown up with mobile devices and mobile apps, and has high expectations.

Never was the expression first impressions count more true. Today’s users are accustomed to downloading a consumer app or game, trying it out, and if they don’t like it, deleting it and returning to the app store for an alternative. Enterprise apps face exactly the same acceptance hurdle: they have around 30 seconds to win the user over or they have failed.

One example of a successful enterprise app development was a project conducted by Globo on behalf of a large high street name retailer. The brief was to create an intuitive, mobile retail management system for some 50,000 employees and spanning a catalogue of hundreds of thousands of different products.

The system it was due to replace was universally seen as too complex, required a lot of familiarisation training, had led to reduced employee efficiency and had impacted inventory accuracy.

Following launch of the new app last year usage has risen to 1.2 million hours every week, training timescales have been cut by as much as two weeks, employee performance is up by 16%, and accuracy of inventory reporting has grown by 12%. The entire cost of the project has been recouped twice over within six months through savings in training alone.

While enterprise apps are unlikely to topple Facebook, Twitter or Candy Crush in the popularity stakes, the retail example shows they can at least equal them in look, feel and that all-important user acceptance.