Mobile App Development

Build your enterprise mobility strategy in 7 steps

21st February 2020

Enterprise Mobility – it’s transformed the way we work, how we shop, communicate, travel and learn, and in just a few very short years.

Rewind back to the early 1990’s and there were less than half a billion phones in the world. Pretty soon there will be more connected devices than people on earth. As the Internet of Things (IoT) gathers momentum, there will be millions more devices and sensors connected to the web – heck, there already are. And as the proliferation of these sensors and devices gathers pace, as consumers we’ll continue to access a vast array of products and services via the web …

“Enterprise mobility is the trend toward a shift in work habits, with more employees working out of the office and using mobile devices and cloud services to perform business tasks”

This all sounds great, but the truth is that many companies are not equipped to deal with this rapid transformation. Studies have suggested that less than 20% of businesses are adequately geared up for mobile, and failure to get to grips with it increasingly represents the difference between success and failure for many businesses.

If you’re wondering how well equipped your business is when it comes to enterprise mobility, it’s probably worth asking yourself the following questions:

– Can you connect your employees to back-end systems to increase productivity?

– Can you cope with increased consumer demand as your customers shift to mobile?

– Can you balance consumer and employee privacy needs with enterprise security goals?

– Does your current infrastructure support multiple devices, apps and sensors?

– Can your business cope with the demands of a world that’s connected 24/7?

Companies at the cutting edge of mobile technology are going way beyond BYOD – getting enterprise mobility right involves consideration of numerous factors. Today we’re going to explain how to develop a killer enterprise mobility strategy in 7 easy steps.

Getting enterprise mobility right

There’s way more to enterprise mobility than implementing a BYOD initiative. Getting enterprise mobility right is about enabling your company to quickly deploy new products and services that add value to the end-user experience.

Enterprise mobility enables forward-thinking innovative companies to exploit rapidly expanding windows of opportunity in the digital world. It’s about removing the factors within your business that constrain innovation and change. This is important because innovation constraints inhibit your company’s ability to grow quickly and drive profitability.

Security is obviously a huge consideration when considering your enterprise mobility options and alternatives. But the key is to get something started quickly at a time when many of your competitors may already be charging ahead and doing a great job of mobile.

The way to solve this problem is to view enterprise mobility as something that unlocks value for your customers by enabling you to deliver products and services in a new and meaningful way whilst boosting the productivity of your workforce.

Mobile is already transforming your business. In the past five years, mobile has had a seismic impact on the business world and will continue to do so for at least the next decade. This makes planning a cohesive enterprise mobility strategy very challenging because it feels like the goalposts are constantly moving. In order to make this process easier, we’ve outlined the seven things your company can do to get ahead in mobile fast. The most important thing is to start with the end in mind and work backwards from that specific point. Think about what you’re trying to achieve and let your goals and objectives dictate your enterprise mobility strategy. Once you have a clear idea of what you’re trying to do, your mobility strategy will take care of itself. Mobile is not a novelty fad. It’s a serious tool for enhancing the performance of your company.

Here are the seven steps you need to follow in order to create a killer enterprise mobility strategy:

1. Start with the end in mind

All great adventures start with a clear destination. Mobile is no different. It could be the most rewarding thing your company ever does. But the problem is many companies get into mobile for the wrong reasons. Without careful planning and consideration, you’ll end up with a half-baked mobility strategy that’s doomed to fail before a single line of code is written. You need to think very carefully about your desired business outcomes and how you can use mobile to deliver against these goals. Think carefully about how your customers, staff and other stakeholders can use mobile to engage with your business. Think about how your customers consume your products and services and how mobile can potentially add value to that experience. It’s also worth considering how mobile could be used to offer new products and services to your workforce and existing customer base. There could be significant opportunities that mobile can present in order to enhance your sales and marketing efforts. Maybe it’s a case of leveraging mobile to improve your existing processes or internal infrastructure. Think carefully about how you can exploit mobile to drive value and achieve these goals.

2. Focus on the mobile experience

If you’re a business looking to expand the functionality of an existing desktop software application, mobile is a great bet. It’s important to remember that developing apps for mobile differs greatly from traditional software development. It takes highly specialised expertise and knowledge. When you start off planning your mobile initiative, there are two routes you can take in the first instance: you can either develop a mobile responsive website or you can go down the route of developing a mobile app. Your decision should be based upon the requirements of your project as there are pros and cons associated with each.

A mobile responsive website is effectively a website that responds to mobile devices of different shapes and sizes. It can be accessed at any given time on any type of smartphone or tablet device. The other option is to develop a native mobile app whereby you create a bespoke piece of software for a specific set of devices. The user can then download the app from the relevant app store marketplace. This may sound obvious if you’re already experienced in mobile but it’s incredible how many enterprise companies still do not fully understand the difference.

A mobile responsive website can be a great option if you’re taking your first step into the world of mobile. Mobile responsive websites adapt depending upon the capabilities of the user’s device and often use technologies such as HTML5. They tend to be easier and faster to develop and render well across all kinds of different web enabled smartphones and tablets as long as they possess a browser. They’re easy to use and don’t require your site visitors to actively download anything which can be a crucial tool when engaging new customers. Overall, mobile responsive websites are quick to develop and tend to be cheaper than native mobile apps to create. You can access large numbers of potential site visitors by enabling the site to render across multiple devices and manage the whole process via a single codebase.

However there are some obvious drawbacks when it comes to developing a mobile responsive website for your company. Mobile responsive websites are not renowned for offering a slick and seamless experience for your users. Developing a mobile responsive site can be a perfect fit for casual visitors but if you’re focused on depth of engagement with customers, staff or stakeholders, a native mobile app could be a better fit.

When it comes to depth of engagement you’re best thinking about developing a native mobile app. Great apps with sophisticated onboarding mechanisms will keep users engaged over a longer period of time. You need to think about how recently your app was last used, how frequently the average user visits your app and if your focus is monetisation, how long (or how many visits) it takes the average user to spend money within the app. This is known as RFM (recency, frequency and monetisation) scoring.

Native mobile apps can become the central point of engagement for your customers, staff and a wide variety of organisational stakeholders. One thing is for sure, developing native apps will give you way more control over the quality of the experience that you deliver to your users. Native apps are well equipped to support local data processing and storage in case the app is being used in an area of low bandwidth and can easily handle data distributed by external, third party API’s.

Now for some of the drawbacks of developing native mobile apps. For starters, they’re more expensive and time consuming to develop. Plus you’ll have to think about developing for a single platform. In addition, developing an app for iOS does not mean it can be easily ported across to Android or Windows. These native environments are all completely different and are underpinned by different programming languages which means you have to start again in terms of coding each time you tackle a new platform. You’ll need to think about how you update your native mobile app continuously over time. Nowadays the native app stores are highly competitive and standing out from the crowd is tough.

But based on our experience, if you’re focused on delivering a quality experience, native app development will offer by far the best results. If you’re struggling to resource your project (finding the best mobile expertise is tough) then think about a build, operate, transfer (BOT development model.

3. Develop a plan to continuously optimise your apps

Many apps are updated on a weekly if not daily basis in order to provide new features and content. It’s also a great way to patch up bugs and flaws within the software without your users even noticing. If you’re used to developing desktop or web-based software applications, mobile might take a bit of getting used.

Development cycles are shorter and tend to operate as a series of rapid, iterative bursts. The focus is on continuous innovation and delivering frequent revisions of your mobile product. In order to embrace mobile effectively, your company needs to embrace agility. This involves adopting an agile methodology when it comes to software development (as opposed to traditional waterfall-based models) and using agile practices to continuously enhance your mobile product over time based on real-world user data and feedback.

Agile has become the perfect partner for mobile development. Learning how to develop mobile apps using agile can also have a positive influence on your wider business environment. Many businesses are now using software platforms such as AllThings to diffuse agile thinking and techniques into their sales and marketing operations.

4. Enable a great user experience by using external API’s

Mobility is all about empowering your customers, staff and organisational stakeholders. The great thing about mobile is that it puts power in the hands of the people that need it the most. However, that power is completely dependent upon access to backend systems as sources of information. API’s are an intrinsic aspect of the overall mobile experience. If the mobile front end is the Ferrari chassis, the API is the engine that makes it perform. API’s are backend information systems that can be exploited by a mobile app frontend to provide real-time data for your users in any location at any time. This will enable you to exploit your existing data sets in ways you never even imagined were possible.

If you’re an enterprise with large amounts of data, this is great news when it comes to developing your mobility strategy. You don’t even need to think about creating new systems to leverage your data, you can just use what’s already there. The way to approach this is to develop your mobile infrastructure around your existing data capabilities. API’s also represent a great way of exposing enterprise data to external parties.

When executed correctly, API’s can be a phenomenal way for your company to access new markets and acquire new customers. However, if your API’s are not managed correctly, they can unwittingly provide easy targets for hackers. At this point, security becomes a critical consideration. This is somewhat ironic given that the very qualities that make API’s useful also make them potentially vulnerable in terms of security.

API management and security should be a critical consideration when developing a cohesive enterprise mobility strategy. There has been enormous growth in the number of enterprises using API’s to leverage additional value from existing infrastructure but the security considerations are different when compared to traditional software technologies. It’s essential that you understand the risks and benefits of API integration and management when thinking about your enterprise mobility initiative.

5. Focus on the data

Data will represent the cornerstone of your entire enterprise mobility strategy. You need to think very carefully about how your stakeholders interact with their mobile devices and the critical role that data plays in determining the overall user experience. You need to think about your staff, your customers and your wider stakeholder group to understand what data they could benefit from accessing via smartphones and tablets. Think about what data they require, how they’re likely to use it, whether they need the ability to interact with the data and how you provide access to the data from various locations at any time. Then you need to think about security and how to ensure that your data is protected when moving across your company network.

Enterprise mobility is not just about managing devices and apps. You need to think carefully about how you manage your data effectively. The reason you enable MDM (mobile device management) and MAM (mobile app management) is to provide access to data. In this sense, data sits at the heart of everything you do when it comes to enterprise mobility management. This is a balancing act to ensure that key stakeholders have access to the data that they require whilst protecting the company’s information in a safe and secure manner. This is actually on of the highest priorities when defining your mobility strategy in terms of balancing user access requirements with efficient security.

6. Stay secure

Enterprise mobility is about ensuring that the right people have access to the right data at the right time from any location. Part of this process is being able to define the user’s identity and making sure that the correct security based protocols have been implemented to verify each user. There are a number of things to consider when defining a high-level security strategy. You have to think beyond device management and managing your company apps. It’s worthwhile analysing the overall security situation from a much wider perspective. As the use of API’s continues to grow exponentially, the importance of ensuring your mobile backend is secure becomes even more critical. Failure to create a comprehensive security strategy will expose your company to a multitude of security threats that could exploit weaknesses in your applications.

So what’s the best way to secure your mobile apps and devices? Building your own security protocols can be expensive and time-consuming so it’s worth looking at third-party vendors who can provide a solution based on your requirements. Security vulnerabilities are often a result of poor software development processes. It’s worth considering the processes that are used to develop your software and establishing how to minimise errors in order to minimise any potential vulnerabilities. Creating a standardised approach to security and the development of your apps is a critical aspect of any effective mobility strategy.

7. Get the right people involved

Finally, you need to consider who is responsible for the governance and management of your company’s overall mobility strategy. You need to think about who is in control and the people that should be involved. It’s also equally important to think about who is not in control and the people that don’t require influence and the ability to make decisions regarding mobility. Having too many voices (or the wrong voices) involved in your mobility governance will make it hard to formulate a cohesive strategy. You need to consider who the best people are in your company to influence key decisions and policies around all aspects of mobility. This can be problematic given the fact that mobility affects your whole company, and to a lesser or greater extent, all stakeholders will feel they should be partially involved in the decision making process. Your mobility strategy will affect sales, marketing, production, finance, HR and just about every single function within the company so make sure you involve the correct people with an appropriate level of influence and authority.

The fact is that many companies now have a BYOD strategy. But BYOD is only one aspect of a much wider mix of considerations when it comes to mobility. The reality is that whilst many organisations have a BYOD policy, very few have a comprehensive grip on the wider elements of enterprise mobility. Without a consistent policy to manage every element of the mobility process, the whole thing can become fragmented and difficult to manage. Whatever you decide to do, it needs to function well across all departments. You need to avoid a situation whereby individual departments can govern mobility in their own way. This has the ability to fracture and derail all of the hard work and time you’ve invested in developing an overarching approach. This can be very costly if managed incorrectly.

Managing mobility within the enterprise is complex. However, the reality is that it’s set to become even more complex as the Internet of Things and the proliferation of connected devices gathers pace and momentum. It’s estimated that by 202 there will be 20 billion connected, web-enabled devices. As the usage of mobile increases, it becomes harder to manage all aspects of mobility. You need to quickly establish how you intend to manage this future complexity. Once you’ve established an approach that considers all of these elements you’ll be well-positioned to exploit the unique opportunities that mobility has to offer. Learning how to manage all of these seven considerations now will ensure you and your company are well equipped for the mobility revolution.

The final word on enterprise mobility

Mobile isn’t an option – it’s essential to drive value within – and outwith – your company. It’s about utilising existing data infrastructure and external API’s to attract new prospects and provide more value for existing customers. Getting ahead in mobile is challenging because you need to access the right skills and expertise. But if you’re not already considering what to do about enterprise mobility and how to do it, you’ll be behind some of your competitors. There are enormous commercial gains to be made when it comes to enterprise mobility if you get started now, and we can help.

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