Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Creating an Enterprise Mobile App Strategy Step 1 - Understanding Your Business Needs

With almost 2 billion smart phones expected to be sold this year and tablets outselling PC’s by more than half, enterprise companies across the board will need to embrace a mobile app strategy to remain competitive. But there is a constant flow of conflicting information surrounding mobile app development and BYOD strategies and determining what’s needed to be successful can be a daunting task. In addition, rushing to jump on the mobile app bandwagon, some companies try to tackle every want and need at one time and within one app. This leads to an end product that is less than desired and in the wake of failed implementation, mobile app strategies can be abandoned altogether. Beyond obtaining the tools and resources needed to implement a mobile app strategy are the building blocks required to create a solid foundation for success. Reaching the goal of a clean, effective and successful enterprise mobile app strategy requires taking one well calculated step at a time and it starts from step one – understanding your business needs.

Taking on a mobile app strategy is about much more than the tools you will use or even the end product itself. An effective mobile app strategy involves knowing the reasons behind the mobile app drive. You need to take a deep dive into the goal of your enterprise mobile app strategy and determine exactly what it is that mobile apps will do for your business. Are you looking to serve your customers, employees, vendors, channels, or all of the above? Will mobile apps enhance or replace current technologies? Think of the business processes you want to enable with mobile apps first, determine the priorities for delivery (chances are multiple apps will be needed and desired for maximum productivity and ROI) then build your strategy around these processes.

Once a list of potential mobile apps and the business processes they map to is determined, it’s time to bring the end users into the fold. Too often companies engage in enormous technology projects, investing huge amounts of time and money to create what they believe their customers (internal or external) want and need without actually asking them. Development of any kind in a vacuum is never successful and in many cases can lead to a project being scrapped shortly after implementation or even before the project is completed, but not before time, money and resources have been consumed.

It is almost assured that multiple mobile apps will be necessary to successfully meet all the business needs of your end users. Trying to build a single app to meet the breadth and scope of everyone’s requirements will prove far more frustrating than beneficial. For any customer-facing mobile apps, create focus groups of current and prospective customers. Find out what products or services they want to be able to access through your mobile apps and the functionality within the app that would be most useful to them. For employees, channels and business partners survey each group and determine what business issues they are facing and how mobile app(s) can solve these issues.

Understanding why your enterprise organization needs mobile apps, and what business processes they will support, is key to a successful mobile app strategy. A big piece of that puzzle is mapping those processes to the needs of the end users early in the planning stages. This approach will help create the solid enterprise mobile app foundation upon which to build the robust, data rich apps your end users want and your business needs. Next is determining the best tools and resources to execute your strategy – that’s step 2.


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