It is hard to imagine phones or tablets for private use without mobile applications now. I will even go so far as to say that many people can’t live without “their” personal apps anymore. The great variety of available apps ranges from social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, all the way to the entertainment industry. Be it companies that focus on the production of print media (e.g. The Washington Post, Le Monde, The London Times) or popular board and card games, everything is being digitalized and provided as an app for iOS, Android, and Windows.
Why Is That? Why Are Apps So Successful?
Over the last few years, tablets and smartphones have become a permanent feature of everyday life and are widely used by people of all ages throughout the whole world. Apps provide the organizations with a quick and easy way to distribute important information to the majority of interested people across the board. Consumers, on the other hand, can receive all important information immediately after it is generated and, in the best case, they will receive push notifications so that they don’t miss a single update.
Smartphones embody all important data sources (apps) in one. It is no longer necessary to boot up an additional device or software system to receive information. To illustrate this advantage, let’s go back to the year 2007 and take a look at how digital information was obtained back then:
Hurricane “Cyril” was sweeping across Germany while the first generation of the iPhone was being introduced in San Francisco. To obtain digital information, average consumers had to boot up their computers and open the installed web browser, which easily took 1–2 minutes.
In addition to the high-speed distribution and reception of information, apps have the great advantage that they can be operated intuitively. Thanks to simplified and universal navigation concepts, users can get the hang of a newly installed app in no time.
What Can We Take from Private Use and Adapt for Business Applications?
It is important to provide your users with new, easy ways of consuming software. All employees need quick and easy access to information, and what could provide better support than the optimized user interface? Adapting applications that are used for business purposes to private use not only lowers the company’s training expenses—it will also be accompanied by an abrupt rise in user acceptance, which, as we all know, is the main factor for successful projects in the company.
However, it is also important to remember that not all users consume software in the same way.
Not all users are satisfied with just an app on their iPhone or iPad to do their work. So we distinguish—admittedly on a very high level of abstraction, but I still think it makes sense—between two user groups: “power users” and “simple users”.
“Power users” need a mouse and keyboard to perform their work so that they can navigate around the software quickly and often have to switch between multiple applications.
“Simple users” only need selected information content that is necessary to them in order to conduct their day-to-day business. They need quick and often also offline access to this information. “Simple users” can perform their work with a smartphone or tablet with touch operation.
A mobile application on a phone or tablet is not the right solution for every employee. However, many mobile apps these days offer supporting functions and therefore already constitute the optimum solution for some employees, e.g. sales representatives (for planning, conducting, and following up visits) or service technicians (for logging time and material, creating service reports, etc.).
An increasing number of companies are also making use of the integration of social networks in companies, such as SAP JAM (read more on this topic in the article by my colleague Lukas Wissing), which increases the amount of cooperation via phone, tablet, or desktop.
Don’t miss the boat!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.