Thoughts

The Rise of Mobile-first Enterprise Apps

Davorin Gabrovec on December 16, 2014 • 5 minute read

In today’s fast-paced business environment, becoming a data-driven organization is imperative. The only way to get an edge on business is to stay connected to data 24/7 – and this is where we need to embrace the latest technology.

Enterprise Mobility and Bring Your own Device (BYOD) have created a huge shift in the Enterprise, with more and more employees requesting access to data anytime, anywhere. Managers, executives and other decision makers spend huge amounts of time outside of their offices and mobile is how they stay connected to their businesses.

There will be 1bn mobile workers connected to enterprises by 2018.
– Juniper research study

Mobile is changing the way we work

People are starting to realize that the busy and extremely mobile nature of our lives is calling for more flexibility in how, and when we work. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much going on in the enterprise software space to support that trend.

Just like mobile apps have given us greater flexibility in our personal lives, mobile-first enterprise apps will reimagine business processes for the way we act when we’re on the go to help us gain flexibility where and when we work. If you are like 93% of business people, your phone is always within arm’s reach.

According to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’s annual Internet Trends report, we check our phones 150 times per day.

 

Moving beyond email and Excel

Working in a startup or a tech-savvy company means you have probably adopted all the latest tools to support your business effectively. But in an enterprise environment, top level managers and decision makers still rely heavily on weekly meetings and Excel reports sent via email. Analysts or assistants spend countless hours creating and updating massive spreadsheets, crammed with numbers that, by the time they get delivered, may no longer be relevant.

What’s even worse is that all this accumulated information is delivered via email. First of, emails are counted by the hundreds for knowledge workers in larger organizations and can be extremely overwhelming. Important information can quickly get lost in the inbox, only to be reviewed when it’s already too late. And second, in most cases, when the information gets to the user, this occurs on a mobile device’s email client. Now imagine pinching-to-zoom that massive spreadsheet on that small mobile screen. Not really efficient, is it?

In the past when we were working mostly from our laptops this approach worked out pretty well for everyone. But not anymore. Ultimately, today’s workers need access to critical business information at a moment’s notice and in ways that it can be consumed easily and efficiently. The only way this can be achieved is by aligning it with mobile. As Boris Evelson, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, writes,

“Information workers can no longer wait to make decisions until they get back to the office – that may be too late.”

Adopting mobile technology to change the decision-making process is a new challenge. Having important business information in every employee’s pocket creates a massive boost in productivity and empowers the entire workforce. Companies need to support this trend beyond simply allowing employees mobile access to their inboxes.

The rise of anytime, anywhere workers

Mobile technology has created a workforce that never stops working. And getting most work done on a smartphone is becoming the new standard.

Think about Millennials, the new generation of hyper-connected and technology savvy workers; independent, resourceful and passionate about what they do. According to Nielsen, 83% of millennials sleep with their smartphones close by. This is a generation on the move and they don’t want to be stuck sitting at a desk all day. Their phone is their lifeline to the rest of the world and their main tool for communicating with friends, family and coworkers.

Employers should give them powerful, mobile-first business apps and not worry too much about their productivity, even if they run out of office to meet a friend or go to the gym in the middle of the day. They’re always on, even when not physically in the office.

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Embrace the mobile mind shift

One of the biggest challenges in today’s enterprise is the lack of Mobile-first business applications that serve the needs of mobile workers. What if everything we usually do at a desk could be done from anywhere? Think about communicating with your team, accessing sales documents, expenses, analytics, inventory, etc. – all from your smartphone.

Enterprises need to address this from their employees’ perspective. Software vendors will need to re-think their solutions or they will quickly be replaced by new products that are more aligned with this paradigm shift. And it’s more than just scaling down desktop software to fit your smartphone screen. It’s about serving users and understanding how they work on the go.

Mobile is eating the world and Mobile-first is the new wave of Enterprise applications.

Mobile-first Enterprise applications

Consumer-facing applications are a great leading indicator of what professionals will want to work on in the future. Today, there are already some very successful Mobile-first Enterprise apps available; Slack for team communication, Clari disrupting CRM with its Mobile-first approach and this is why we’re building Databox, a Mobile-first BI platform that is redefining Business Intelligence (BI) on Mobile.

Companies that have already adopted the Mobile-first strategy understand the positive impact it has on the whole organization — whether it’s communicating with your team, closing sales deals or keeping an eye on your performance metrics. Not only will it increase performance, boost productivity and employee engagement, but also simplify operations, improve decision-making and result in happier and more successful employees.

Whether you focus on a single group or implement it corporate-wide, Mobile-first means connecting users with important information anytime, anywhere.

I am really excited to see where this is going and to be part of a team that is obsessed with this challenge.

About the author
Davorin Gabrovec is Databox's Chief Product Officer. He's obsessed with products, design, and building great teams. Davorin was previously a professional athlete, a Martial Arts World Champion.
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