As much as we might think enterprise mobility has reached a relatively mature state, my experience tells me otherwise. We may have achieved solid footing when it comes to managing devices and building the infrastructure to deploy apps to employees. But actually building, maintaining and extending apps is another story altogether.
Today, we have the most mobile workforce in our history, with over 80% of workers not seated behind a desk. Many organizations are making strides to equip these workers with apps to help them be more productive, using mobile to reengineer business processes or to create new avenues to get work done. Yes, we’ve delivered out-of-the-box apps from companies like Box, Concur and Microsoft to remotely access standard corporate systems. But much progress remains to be made in delivering custom mobile applications to support unique business processes; as per a recent Apperian/CITO Research report, over 70% of enterprises still provide fewer than ten custom mobile apps—across all workers.
And when those apps are developed, they often become one-and-done, which is not a great outcome for either college basketball or enterprise mobile apps. It may be glib, but it’s true. Most companies expend considerable time, money and effort delivering apps to employees, but never get the care and feeding (or budget) to improve and enhance them. Yet these same users are accustomed to getting frequent updates from the apps they use in their daily personal lives. And it’s easy to notice when some apps change frequently, and others don’t.
One may claim these apps don’t need to be updated frequently, but the most common reasons why are rarely true:
“Our business processes aren’t changing, so why should the app?”
“Who cares if people complain? They have to use what we give them if they still want to work here.”
“We lost out on funding this year, so let’s roll it into next year’s budget.”
Here are the five top reasons you need to refresh your enterprise mobile app(s).
- Changing Business Requirements: Understanding and documenting requirements is hard. Knowing if the requirements you documented actually meet the business needs is something you only find out for sure after you deliver the first version of the app. And as much as we try to involve people from the field in the design process, we often find that things in the real world don’t behave as expected. So, there are almost always additional requirements or process steps that we missed. And this doesn’t even take into consideration all the backlog items that didn’t make it into Phase 1.
- Technology Evolves: One thing I love about technology—and mobile in particular—is the pace of its evolution. Every year brings new devices, new versions of the OS, new APIs (and deprecated APIs). It’s absolutely essential to keep your apps current—not just annually with the major releases, but by issuing app updates to accommodate point-releases and bug fixes deployed by Apple and Google throughout the year.
- The Expanding Definition of Mobile: “Mobile” doesn’t just mean phones anymore. Today’s definition of mobile includes new devices like the Apple Watch as well as other technologies deployed on mobile devices, including Augmented Reality and On-Device ML (the new Neural Engine in the A12 Bionic processor can perform five trillion operations per second!). Taking advantage of these “other” capabilities may not be mission-critical, but shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored.
- Great Ideas, Poorly Implemented: Not to throw any shade, but there are a number of reasons (outside of requirements or UX) why apps can and do fall short of user expectations or planned ROI. We’ve seen countless client issues arise that require updates to apps. This includes everything from bad architecture (manifesting in instability or performance issues), the need offline handling, Integration issues, and just plain old defects.
- Neglected Apps Reduce Engagement and Use: As noted earlier, Users expect apps to be updated frequently. But many teams struggle to keep delivering. Stale apps are regarded poorly by users, if not abandoned outright. Check out the ratings in your enterprise app store. Bad news travels fast. Why do apps get neglected? Sometimes it’s as simple as budget. Sometimes it’s a lack of strong Release Management practices or because you’re not using Continuous Integration, Automated Unit Testing or lack Functional Test Platforms to support faster release cycles.
If any of this resonates with your situation, or if it’s been more than 12 months since your last release, it’s high time for a refresh. Partner with Propelics to analyze your app and devise a Refresh Plan that makes sense for you and comes with a fixed-time, fixed-price estimate. During our App Scoping and Prototype Kickstart we perform:
- Competitive Analysis: How does your app stack up against other similar apps?
- Tool/Process evaluation: We’ll examine your existing mobile tools (MADP, SDLC, Automated Unit Testing, DevOps, CI, Testing) to identify any upgrades that can reduce development, build and testing times.
- Integration Review: Even though performance issues get “blamed” on the app, often your integrations are the true culprit. We’ll review your current integration and API management platforms, evaluate your API performance, and provide recommendations.
- UI/UX Refresh: Everybody deserves a great digital experience. Our Mobile UI/UX Design Kickstart focuses on the crucial elements of app design and interaction. Working with our architects and designers we’ll craft a superior user experience and bring your smartphone or tablet app up to speed.
Please feel free to give us a call today. We’ll start you off with a free 1-hour consultation to get the ball rolling.
Mobile leader, speaker, blogger