Mobile App Development

Why Enterprise Apps Can’t Be Big

June 14, 2013

  • Tom Caprel Tom Caprel

Although mobile apps promise mobility, connectivity, and connection with users, actually using their power effectively requires a deep understanding of how this medium effects everything it touches. Behemoth, cumbersome apps that match the complex functionality of current enterprise systems only interrupt workflows.

What organizations need are groups of small, powerful apps that fulfill users and seamlessly integrate into what they do on a daily basis.

[pullquote style=”left”]If mobile apps were a dinosaur, they would be the velociraptor: small, fast, powerful, and work best in groups.[/pullquote]

As mobile apps are adopted by the enterprise as a meaningful tool, many organizations struggle with how to incorporate a consumer-driven product slated to completely change the way we interact. With little knowledge about these new programs, businesses take their existing services and cram them into iPads, Blackberries, and Android devices. Often what they come up with are unusable, confusing, and mind-bogglingly slow apps… massive in both size and scope.

In a blog post on Mobile Enterprise 360, Paul Kapustka wrote about talking with Brian Katz, a developer from a major pharmaceutical company, about what bad apps mean about your organization, and here are his thoughts:

“What’s the conclusion if you build a bad app? Your users will find something that works in the hundreds of thousands of other apps available on iTunes or at the Google Play store, Katz noted. And they’ll use apps that they like, and can use well. If your app isn’t that, your mobile strategy just got deleted.”

Massive apps interrupt a user’s workflow, and as a result, negate any usefulness intended in their design. Slow apps push users back to their clipboards, laptops, and custom hardware – because at least they work! A poor performing app can also “poison the mobile well” in an organization, making it difficult to get future mobile projects approved.

The solution to this problem comes back to the idea that mobile completely alters the way we interact. It’s not just how we interact with the web, interact with each other, or even with enterprises themselves, it’s how apps change the way we interact with information period. Our CEO, Alex Bratton, said it best:

“As technology leaders, we have to think about our user interfaces and our data differently. No longer can you use hierarchical lists, of lists, of lists… We have to be able to visualize and touch this stuff. That’s the power of mobile, with a touch screen it’s completely intuitive; and if we can do that, our users will use the application, it becomes a part of their normal workflow.”

When we talk with clients about workflow integrated apps, we highlight the importance of specific, targeted apps that cover functionality users need to help them do their jobs. Apps have to be small, concise, intuitive, and designed with the end-users in mind. Most apps can cover around 5% of an enterprise-size program, limited by both the way we interact and the power of the device. To really benefit enterprise workflows, users need suites of small apps that work together and effectively communicate with legacy systems.