Businesses are dealing with ever growing amounts of digital assets, but more importantly, they have to handle them with an increasingly diverse set of endpoints and infrastructure. Core applications such as ERP and CRM have, in many cases, been shifted away from on-premises environments and entrusted to managed hosting providers. At the same time, IT departments and line-of-business employees now expect unfettered access to key corporate data from their smartphones and tablets.
Unsurprisingly, the movement of so many business operations to portable devices has created a substantial market for mobile engagement. Organizations are eager to retool legacy applications for mobile and also create new possibilities for both workers and customers. According to Forrester Research, the market for mobile engagement providers could top $32 billion by 2018. At the same time, companies are eager to better visualize the state of processes and data on any device, using dashboard summaries similar to the ones available through Robot NETWORK and Robot SCHEDULE.
Adjusting to New Baselines for Mobile Application Quality
Moreover, mobile software is evolving quickly. Companies may have been okay having a sleek interface and limited functionality a few years ago, but now they need software that caters to user needs, making sense of immense troves of data to return targeted insights and provide intuitive solutions. Early smartphone and tablet applications were by and large repackaged versions of company websites that could not facilitate this level of around-the-clock engagement.
Today's organizations are full of sales and fulfillment teams that could capitalize on many additional business opportunities if they simply had access to critical software on the go. Still, too often there is a divide between what these personnel need and how executives perceive the company's position on mobility. Some leaders may wrongly conflate something as basic as smartphone email access with a true engagement strategy. Similarly, they may err by regarding smartphones and tablets the same way as desktops.
“[M]obile solutions have been part of enterprise planning ever since Blackberry gave us emails in our pockets,” wrote Joel Schneider of Liberty Technology Advisors for FierceCIO. “The vital change now is the recognition of mobile devices as a primary source of work production and the resulting need to create tailored, integrated apps to support those functions. Mobile devices are not just handheld desktops; to be useful, mobile apps need to provide easy access to relevant information and avoid extraneous functions that don’t apply to the task at hand.”
Implementing Safe and Effective Mobile Engagement Strategies
There are many benefits to creating fuller mobile application experiences, such as the ability for employees in the field to interact with customers on their own turf. Organizations can make the most of the mobile opportunity by determining which departments would get the greatest benefit from ubiquitous access and then establishing appropriate approaches to device and data governance.
For example, back office workers may have less need for mobile services since they can usually get what they need from a single desktop system. With teams that rely heavily on anytime-anywhere data, it makes sense for IT departments to prioritize their mobility needs while also assessing the pros and cons of “bring your own device” policies. BYOD, by opening up hardware choices, provides a lot of flexibility in how users engage with applications, but organizations have to be careful to ensure that data is being securely handled.