The forecast is clear: demand for mobile applications in the workplace will increase considerably in the next few years. Is your organisation ready to capitalise on the benefits of this trend? It’s a decision that can have a profound positive impact on your business—if it’s done right.
At Rinami, we are contributing to the mobile revolution by developing custom mobile applications that are tightly coupled to your JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system. From this experience we have discovered two important keys to developing effective mobile application for the enterprise market.
Meet Business Goals
The most important step is to realise that, unlike traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that try to be all things to all people, mobile applications need to be finely tuned. This means drilling down to processes and tasks that are tailored specifically to the unique requirements of the business.
Enterprise-level mobile applications are designed to solve distinct problems such as compliance and workflow. Your first step is to define these problems in specific terms, making sure to gather input from not just IT executives, but all decision makers in the company. Then, you can tie the problems to the goals the company wants to achieve and focus development on delivering a solution that meets these goals.
One important note about paring an enterprise mobile application down to the needs of the business, is to maintain some flexibility. Just like your ERP product, your enterprise mobile applications should be configurable so that as the needs of the business change, the applications can change with them without having to be redeveloped. One way that Rinami meets this requirement is to integrate tightly with the business logic within JD Edwards to ensure that if configuration changes are made to the relevant applications with JDE then those changes are instantly reflected in your mobile applications.
Meet User Requirements
In addition to understanding the business objective, you must also understand and cater to the needs of the users of enterprise mobile applications. This sounds obvious, but there is a big shake up in the workplace that is making this an important consideration more than ever before: the consumerisation of IT. This concept basically means that users are expanding their experience with technology as a consumer to impact their expectations regarding their technology experiences at work.
Design and usability are important factors for developing mobile applications for any market. However, it tends to have more weight in the consumer market. That is changing in a big way. Whether a company has a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy or provisions certain mobile devices for their employees to use, the company apps that run on those devices should meet the needs and desires of the users—employees. Choosing to ignore these desires can cause disinterest and dissatisfaction that can ultimately render the application ineffective.
Mobile applications must be intuitive to the user whether they are consumer games or providing real time delivery tracking and capture. This means that mobile applications must be designed around your business process to ensure that the user is left in no doubt about how to use their mobile application. The information that is presented is everything they need to complete their task and nothing that that they don't need. The flow of the application should exactly match the flow of the process they are completing.
While sounding simple, these key points are fundamental to a successful mobile strategy and should be at the forefront when considering how to deliver you business processes over mobile devices.
Preparing for the Future
There are several challenges with implementing a business model that includes the use of mobile applications. The biggest of which is managing and securing the applications and data on your mobile applications. Mobile device management and security software is now available from a range of vendors, including Oracle, to enable this across all of your business mobile devices. But even without these types of tools, it possible to develop and deploy mobile applications into your enterprise that are secure and do not expose your business to unnecessary risk.
With the significant investment that organisations have already made in their core business systems, embracing the mobile revolution should be about enhancing the value of that investment and delivering information and collecting data from your workforce in the most efficient means possible.