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Maribel Lopez, Founder & Principal Analyst at Lopez Research LLC, joined us this week on the "Life in the Mobile Enterprise (LiME)” podcast to discuss how enterprise build apps that their employees love. Enterprise mobility is high on the list of priorities for many companies these days but in order the initiative to be successful, it is important that the organization thinks about in a different way than with traditional enterprise software. Maribel explains that with mobile apps it is key to start small and iterate fast to grow the app over time from a micro app to a full featured app. Tune in to learn:

  • Best practices for getting started with mobility
  • Who often leads the mobile initiative
  • How to form a Mobile Center of Excellence (MCOE)
  • How to develop apps that employees will love
  • Examples of highly sophisticated apps


What’s the secret sauce for developing mobile apps that employees will truly embrace and use again and again? Maribel also joined us recently on the webinar, “Criteria for a Successful Enterprise App Deployment” where she shared her expertise and recommendations on creating and deploying mobile apps that employees will love. Part of the problem many companies run into is when they try to “boil the ocean” and develop “epic apps,” says Lopez. “You want to start small and grow big and move fast." She points to how the American Airlines mobile app started with a single task with one data source at the back end of it and then evolved to incorporate other natural user workflows such as checking a flight status and booking a flight. App development efforts should be approached in months, not years, says Lopez. Many companies begin by focusing on “low-hanging fruit” projects such as replacing paper-based catalogues and price lists for sales and service teams and then begin developing other apps needed by work teams. One of the first things that development teams should do before writing a single line of code is to develop a thorough understanding of what targeted users do in their roles, including the workflows they’re involved with and the types of information they need to access, says Lopez. “To be user driven, go out with users in a 'day in the life' to see what they do and what they need,” says Lopez. For instance, Lopez points to the user-focused design of GEICO’s mobile app which is designed with a logical workflow based on customers’ needs, such as a button that can be used to contact a towing service. From there, developers should build a mockup for an app before beginning coding and ask users if it accurately represents how they would use an app and then make changes where needed. Decision-makers also need to ensure that they’re building the right app for the right device. “I spoke to a field service person who says that he uses a tablet but if he drops it from 30 feet up it’s going to break even if it has an OtterBox on it,” says Lopez. Apps also need to be developed based on how users will be accessing them and the workflows they will use. Developers should consider how and whether employees are likely to transition between the use of a multiple devices throughout their workflows (desktop PC, smartphone, laptop, watch) to access an app and obtain information at different stages in their app usage, says Lopez. This is part of what Lopez describes as providing users with “right-time experiences” -- the right user, the information or service they want, on the right device, at the right time. “We think a lot about delivering mobile experiences but in reality users are often cross-device (in their behaviors),” says Lopez. They might start on a desktop PC but then move to a smartphone to consume content. “The user experience needs to be consistent across devices.” Development teams also need to consider the usability of apps, says Lopez. For instance, in some cases where users need hands free (e.g. a physician evaluating a patient), it might make sense to include speech recognition instead of requiring users to type in text. “You also want integrated data” where internal apps need to feed into composite applications to meet users’ workflow requirements, says Lopez. “You want to be able to connect to data from partners and do so in a seamless and secure fashion.” It’s important to remember that app downloads don’t equal engagement. Lopez points to research by Localytics which reveals that 20% of apps are only used once. This is where the use of analytics and enterprise app stores can be used to track engagement to determine if your employees really love the enterprise apps they have been given.

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