on 10 September 18
Apps have become so common and so ubiquitous these days that we’re never surprised to find that just there’s an app for just about every need that could be serviced via an online channel.
Initially there were mostly games and little utilities to add functional value to mobile devices, but technology very quickly evolved to enable apps to serve as clients to remote server-based applications. Today, almost every major portal or business that offers a desktop browser site as an access channel also has a mobile app as an additional channel for increased convenience. This trend is continuing, and with mobile devices becoming more and more powerful on every performance parameter they have become a very key platform in the continuous battle to reach new customers and retain existing ones.
So far, the priority for most enterprises in terms of developing apps has been on the marketing and support side. This is quite understandable, especially given the external business environment over the past several years. Within the enterprise, however, the availability of apps for employees has been less of a priority. Apps for them have largely come from external infrastructure providers, such as their email providers, enterprise business process software product vendors (such as for ERP), and a few generic office utilities.
The fact is that for most purposes, users have largely preferred to use their incumbent large screens to use applications that support their core functional work. However with users also being increasingly mobile, and increasingly needing to access information, or provide inputs to other functions even while they are not at their desks, there is clearly a need for mobile apps to be developed for them.
There could be various types of apps that could be useful internally. These could largely be apps that act as portals to provide a subset of the full functionality that their desktop client applications would provide. Some of these could be:
- Apps that issue alerts for action required. These could be particularly useful for providing timely approvals for pending requests.
- Apps that provide key dashboard information. These could provide any kind of live or near-live summary information on business process or transaction health.
- Apps relating to risk, security and compliance. These may be apps that provide a combination of the previous two categories, plus they could be useful for providing notifications or alerts for potential breaches in security, risk or compliance.
- Apps that provide access to shared enterprise documents or information feeds. Sometimes an employee in the field may need information such as marketing collateral, or statistics, or any other data as a support, or to share with customers or partners. Rather than having to open up a laptop and connect to the enterprise it would be easier to have access via a handheld device.
- Apps for personal convenience. These could be apps that provide access to the employee intranet for personal functions (expenses, leave, etc), or for accessing corporate training material.
In short, the range of apps that could be developed could extend to just about anything that is already in the enterprise stack, subject to functional need, security and practicality. Thanks to app development tools and environments that enable the one-time development of apps that run natively across a range of operating systems such as iOS, Android and others, the cost of supporting multiple platforms has also significantly come down. It is therefore anticipated that enterprise apps for inhouse use will increasingly be included in the list of CIO priorities for this year.