Businesses are intensifying efforts to understand how mobile applications can help achieve business value and be developed to meet their unique needs. However, like consumers, business users want apps that offer both functional value and a user-friendly interface and experience that increase the likelihood of being embraced by employees and producing measurable return on investment and enhanced productivity.
itelligence uses its deep knowledge of SAP, middleware solutions and mobility trends to develop or consult on solutions for SAP customers. Common examples include mobile apps that simplify sales processes and provide analytics dashboards for CRM or other data. As another example, at the recent CeBIT 2012 conference, itelligence AG and Nektoon AG announced the integration of Squirro, described as a “personal digital research app,” with SAP Business ByDesign.
Understanding the needs and functionalities:
No matter the nature of the business-focused mobile app, there are several truths we’ve found to be universal to end-user adoption and satisfaction.
The first is that most successful business apps do not start from a data perspective, but instead from a user-centric perspective. This requires a strong focus on the user experience from the beginning on. Utilizing different tools such as wireframes and mockups during the design phase help to discuss and define the user interface and look & feel of the application. Utilizing an iterative design approach with continuous feedback from the customer ensures that requirements are fully covered and expectations on both sides are aligned.
A second reality is that, before a mobile app is implemented, it is vital to nail down with customers exactly what the app can or can’t do. All features should be thoroughly explained and documented to ensure complete understanding of the app’s current capabilities. We’ve found that doing so eliminates or reduces the chances of disappointed end users who may be inclined to request additional features.
Thirdly, it’s important for customers to fully understand all of their options for apps. This includes what is possible with the SAP mobile platform, availability of standard out-of-the box apps as well as the implications of doing custom development.
A mobile strategy workshop in the beginning helps to understand the business’ needs, identifies the best scenario to start with and compares the different options. It creates a mobile roadmap to ensure that the foundation is set up right and activities are aligned with the business and IT strategy.
Options today include:
- Select an existing app: Before a company invests in a mobile business solution, it is important to create the case, identify the users, functions and benefits. After identifying the real needs, it may become clear that an existing app can satisfy the business essentials. For example, SAP has a number of standard apps that help companies of all sizes and industries to quickly mobilize processes and run better.
- Customize an existing app: It’s important to consider what the business wants to accomplish with the app and who will use it. An existing app will not always fit exactly to the business requirements and processes but could be the right choice with some little adjustments. However, in contrast to standard business applications, the flexibility of customizing mobile apps without modification of the code is still very limited. Therefore, it is important to understand that customizing an existing app in many cases requires availability and access to the source code and special development skills.
- Develop a unique app: Many times a business’ specific needs call for specific functions or coupled tools that no apps offer. Or existing apps are just too complex and provide more functionality than the business actually requires. Starting from scratch and developing a custom specific solution is then the best alternative. Choosing the right mobile development platform and middleware helps to speed up implementation time and keeps efforts manageable if apps have to be ported for additional devices. And with a development approach that focuses on the user experience through an integrated approach, it is ensured that the result is perfectly tailored to the business’ needs.
For many businesses, developing a unique app often is the smartest approach. But no matter what businesses choose, they can feel confident knowing the number of options continues to grow, with user friendliness and business-specific customization at the heart of strategic development efforts.