White Paper: Six Critical Tips for Great B2B Mobile Apps

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  • 1.Six Critical Questions to AnswerBefore Your Company Builds a Mobile App

2. WW W.R UNMOBI LE.CO M SIX C R IT IC A L QU E ST ION S T O A N SW ER B EF O R E YO U R C O M PA N Y B U I L D S A M O B I L E A P P Enterprise spending on mobile applications will double by 2015, according to Forrester . Its growth driven by companies that seek 1 to empower their mobile workforce, improve service for their clients and enhance the brand experience of their customers.Avoid overloading your But many mobile applications built by and for businessesproject with needlessfeatures. The most popular often at significant costgo unused or underused by their targetapps are intuitive and audience. Apps developed with the best of intentions may fail ifhave a clear payoff forthe end user. companies dont fully understand their mobile users, or if app functionality doesnt match the business goals of the project. In our experience, there are six critical questions that companies should ask themselves as a starting point for any mobile app initiative. With answers to these questions in hand, your mobile initiative will be focused, cost-effective and successful. What are the business objectives for creating1the application? This seems like a no-brainer, right? But far too often companies in a rush to create a mobile app lose sight of its purpose. Are you trying to: Boost mobile worker productivity? Increase sales? Improve customer satisfaction? Respond to customer demand? Satisfy a corporate mandate? Match a competitors mobile app? There can beand often aremultiple objectives for your app project, so document them. Companies today are using mobile apps to tackle challenges in just about every area of their business: inventory management, field service management, sales force management, customer interaction management and logistics management, to name just a few.2 With your major objectives in mind, take the next step of setting key success metrics for your mobile app. Trying to boost online sales? Set a percentage goal. Want to reduce time spent on field service 1 Ted Schadler and John C. McCarthy, Mobile is the New Face of Engagement, Forrester, Feb. 13, 2012 2 Eric Klein and David Krebs, Proliferation of Mobile Devices = Opportunity for Apps & Developers, VDC research webcast, Aug. 4, 2010. 2 3. WW W.R UNMOBI LE.CO M SIX C R IT IC A L QU E ST ION S T O A N SW ER B EF O R E YO U R C O M PA N Y B U I L D S A M O B I L E A P P calls? Specify how much time. By quantifying your objectives, you will help shape functional decisions that will be made during development. As an example, we worked with a paper company that relied on printed catalogs distributed by field sales reps as a way to inform clients about products and pricing. The catalogs were costly to print and the companys online product guide wasnt always accessible at a client site.We created a smartphone application that allowed sales reps to easily accessthe online product guide. The guide provided reps with real-time pricing andhelped the company reduce printing costs. Client service improved, costs werelowered, and the companys clear business objectives for its app made theproject a success. Who are the anticipated users of 2 the application?Soon nearly everyone will be a potential user of a mobile app because nearlyeveryone will have a smartphone. By 2016, 1 billion consumers worldwide willhave smartphonesincluding 257 million people in the U.S. Those deviceowners are using mobile apps more and more to access their social networks,view the news, listen to music and engage with their favorite brands, accordingto Forrester.3But heres the tricky part. One size does not fit all when creating a mobile app.Your organization needs to think about who will use the mobile app once itscreated. Will it be used by your customers, all or most of your employees or justa small subset of those groups? If the audience for your new app turns out to befour regional sales reps, it might not be worth the return on investment. But if thatregional sales force is expected to grow from four to 400 in a short period of time,then that changes the picture and may justify your app costs.This multi-platform appWhen thinking about the anticipated audience for your app, keep in mind their level offor a leading medicaltechnology sophistication. In 2010, Home Depot provided 30,000 app-enabled smartphones torecruitment firm employees in 1,970 stores nationwide to help them quickly manage inventory, process debitmeets the companysand credit card transactions, and print receipts.4 Rolling out technology to a broad audience likeobjective of reachingthis, where associates are being introduced to new apps and new devices, is a much differentdoctors through theirchallenge than reaching a more defined or app-savvy audience. We recently developed a jobsmartphones. search app targeting US physicians. Our clients research showed that doctors are strong adopters of smartphones at work, especially iPhonesinformation which helped shape the app requirements. Defining the size and mobile usage characteristics of your audience is key. 3 Ted Schadler and John C. McCarthy, Mobile is the New Face of Engagement, Forrester, Feb. 13, 2012. 4 Adam Blair, Home Depots $64 Million Mobile Investment Rolls Out to 1,970 Stores, Retail Info. Systems News, Dec. 7, 2010.3 4. WW W.R UNMOBI LE.CO M SIX C R IT IC A L QU E ST ION S T O A N SW ER B EF O R E YO U R C O M PA N Y B U I L D S A M O B I L E A P P Which mobile platform and devices will the 3 application be built for? Once you identify the anticipated audience for your new mobile app, youll need to think about the devices and platforms theyll use to access the app. Many companies choose to limit employee use to a specific device and platform for a simple reason: it makes it much easier to ensure the security of the companys IT assets.A tablet-optimized app Thats changing fast. Employees are increasingly using their own mobile devices for work.offers the advantage ofBYODBring Your Own Deviceis becoming more than a catchphrase. By 2016, 200more screen real million people around the world will take their own devices to the workplace.5 Particularlyestate, which can be for many younger workers with a strong attachment to their device, permission to use theirhelpful for viewingown device is a prerequisite for accepting employment. Many companies now offer BYOD as agraphic-rich presentations recruiting tactic.and larger spreadsheets. Its important to think about this changing environment before you build your mobile app. If your app is intended for internal use by employees, which devices and platforms does your company support? Do you envision that changing in the next three to five years? If the app is intended for a broader B-to-C audience, which are the dominant platforms your customers will be using? Increasingly, companies are building apps that can be supported across all of the major platformsiOS (Apple), Android (Google), Blackberry (RIM) and Windows (Microsoft). Walgreens, for example, has enjoyed success with its multi-platform app that lets customers shop, order prescription refills and find stores to get flu shots. A year after its introduction, already 40 percent of Walgreens online transactions came via the mobile app. If Walgreens had created a native appone exclusive to a single mobile platformit would have been less successful. Beyond the platform, anticipating which devicestablets, smartphones, rugged handhelds, or all of the aboveyour app will be used on is equally important. While smartphones are the most common device for app use, some companies are developing different apps for smartphones and tablets. A tablet-optimized app offers the advantage of more screen real estate, which can be helpful for viewing graphic-rich presentations and larger spreadsheets. Enterprise software giant SAP has issued iPad tablets to much of its global workforce and has built a large library of iPad specific apps to enable software demos and other tablet- oriented sales tools.6 5Ted Schadler and John C. McCarthy, Mobile is the New Face of Engagement, Forrester, Feb. 13, 2012. 6Eric Lai, SAP CIOs Ambitious Mobile Plans for 2012, Forbes.com, Jan. 9, 2012. 4 5. WW W.R UNMOBI LE.CO M SIX C R IT IC A L QU E ST ION S T O A N SW ER B EF O R E YO U R C O M PA N Y B U I L D S A M O B I L E A P P What integration will the application require with 4 your existing systems and databases? No mobile app stands alone. Remember when creating your new mobile app that it will likely need to synch with existing databases and internal systems. Ask yourself: Are we building something from scratch that will pull data from an existing cloud application or companydatabase? Will the new app need to work with Salesforce.com or an internalERP system? Your answers to these questions may reveal unintended costsfor example, you may need middleware or custom development for your existingsystems to communicate with the new app. A simple example illustrates the point. Think about a mobile app created for the field technicians who work for a company like Comcast or Verizon. After each customer appointment, the field tech inputs notes on his smartphone or tablet and closes the service ticket. This action triggers a workflow in the billing system that sends an invoice to the customer and files the service report with the rest of the customer history. The field tech then gets notified of his next appointment, complete with driving directions (based on his current location and GPS), customer phone number, and the notes for the last 3 service calls for the same repair. Without this last critical piece of data, the field tech may not be prepared to meet with the customer and provide a resolution. If the mobile app couldnt talk with these other systems (internal and external), how successful would it be? An important consideration when building your app is how to integrate the app with internal systems. For example, limiting the information pulled on the service tickets in our example to address, phone number and relevant service call notes enables the field tech to be most efficient.Field service apps, What is the applications must-havelike this one, oftenconnect to internal 5 functionality?databases meaning Its tempting when building a mobile application to take the something for everyonecost and development approach, cramming the app with features in the hopes that a broader audience will use it.considerations. Bad idea. Whether creating an app for an internal sales team or a broad consumer audience, building in too many features may slow the development project, increase costs, and possibly make the app unwieldy to use. In our experience, its better to identify must-have functionality for launch and stick to it. One simple guide to determine critical app features is to refer to the business objectives initially set out for the project (See Question 1). If your proposed functionality doesnt strongly support your stated business goals, then set the feature aside or save it for a future update of the app.5 6. WW W.R UNMOBI LE.CO M SIX C R IT IC A L QU E ST ION S T O A N SW ER B EF O R E YO U R C O M PA N Y B U I L D S A M O B I L E A P P Mobile application development can be an iterative process. We will deploy a new app to a small group of beta testers, gather feedback, and then work with customers on refinements to improve the app for launch to a larger audience.The Move Post-launch, app updates are common and relatively easy to deploy. Still, its important to avoid extra features that dont make the app better at its primary function, says ZDNet technologyToward writer James Kendrick. He counsels developers to write an app that does the main function simply, enjoyably, and does it well. 7MobileHow will you get end users to use theBy 2016:Mobile app spending will6 application?be $55.7 billion Many companies build mobile applications with the best of intentions but they never get used.1 billion consumersworldwide will haveOne study found that fully 28 percent of mobile apps in the U.S. were used just once aftersmartphonesdownloading and never used again.8 Still other apps dont get downloaded at alleven once350 million employeesbecause people dont know about them or dont see any value in downloading them.worldwide will usesmartphonesBefore creating a mobile app for your company, think about how the app will get to peoples smartphones and tablets. Does your company have the marketing know-how and budget to let200 million peopleworldwide will take theirpeople know they can download this app? If the app is for internal use, will you post it to theown devices to workcompany Intranet and require that employees use it? Will you create a policy where IT puts theSource: Mobile is the New app on everybodys device at setup?Face of Engagement, Forrester,by Ted Schadler and John C.Even if it reaches your end-users devices, the app may not succeed if its difficult to use orMcCarthy, Feb. 13, 2012. if its benefits are unclear. The most popular apps, ones that go viral, are typically those that are fairly intuitive and have a clear payoff for the end user. Thats why focusing on the user experience during development is critical. For an app that may have complex functionality or requires some training, consider building context-sensitive help text into the app. If your app is intended for internal use within your company, hands-on training, video tutorials or live help-desk support are options to improve employee adoption. Its also beneficial to have high-profile champions within your company to promote regular app use. Deciding ahead of time on usage metrics youll use to evaluate the mobile appthe number of downloads, for example, or the number of daily or weekly log-inswill make it easier to determine after launch whether the app was a success. 7 ames Kendrick, The common error of overloading mobile apps with features, ZDNet.com, Nov. 25, 2011.J 8How Often Apps are Downloaded & Used Just Once, Localytics, Jan. 31, 2011.6 7. WW W.R UNMOBI LE.CO M SIX C R IT IC A L QU E ST ION S T O A N SW ER B EF O R E YO U R C O M PA N Y B U I L D S A M O B I L E A P P Conclusion Once youve thought about and answered these six questions, youll be much better prepared to create a mobile application that supports your companys strategic goals and takes advantage of the rapid expansion of the mobile marketplace. It pays to take the time to get it right the first time. Your companys mobile strategy is too important not to. About RunMobile RunMobile helps leading companies build, deploy and manage mobile software solutions to power the enterprise. We offer full-lifecycle, multi-platform mobile app development as well as mobile device management (MDM) and mobile strategy consulting services. Customers include Porsche North America, Ricoh, the City of Memphis, Neenah Paper, Metso, CiCis Pizza, Mens Warehouse and other mid-sized and large businesses. For More Information Email:[email protected] Phone: 404.518.4260 Address: 925 North Point Pkwy, Ste. 160 Alpharetta GA 30005 925 NORTH POINT PKWY, STE. 160 ALPHARETTA, GA 30005EMAIL: [email protected] 7