Many companies try to develop the perfect application. This process often takes too long and doesn’t provide developers with the opportunity to gather feedback from actual usage. Obviously, over-engineering an application isn’t
a new concept.
What might be new and unexpected for organizations is the concept of under-engineering. Inexperienced mobile application developers, or teams strapped for time and cash, are building simplistic solutions that don’t meet the needs of their target audience. The most common under-engineered experience is the rise of what I call Intranet 3.0. Basically, application developers are creating a secure tunnel on a mobile device that connects into an Intranet. In many cases, the Intranet looks the same as it did on the PC.
Many Intranet mobile apps are simple calls for data, such as customer record look-ups, orders and support ticket status, pricing, and inventory information. These lightweight apps could work well in an Intranet-style environment, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with having simple data calls traverse over a VPN. However, it’s not a strategy that will allow a company to mobile-enable its entire business.
Ineffective Uses of Business Mobile Strategy Implementation
There are at least three issues with building a majority of your mobile app strategy as Intranet 3.0:
1. The VPN experience needs to be more seamless.
Some companies have addressed this need with automatic VPN logins behind the scenes. This approach makes the process of launching the mobile app smoother, but if anything happens to the VPN, the user is back to ground zero. It’s critical that the company designs sites and apps that store data and remembers what users are doing when signals drop.
2. The application might not perform well.
Performance is a function of speed, content, and usability. Any one of these elements, or all three, could be impacted by the choice of an Intranet-style approach.
3. The process hasn’t been designed to operate in a mobile world.
It might still look and function the way a PC application would. Usability is key for mobile adoption. If you build in Intranet 3.0, the mobile Intranet, you’ve also wasted an opportunity to take advantage of mobile’s unique attributes, such as location and sensor data.
If there are so many issues, why do companies do it? Building Intranet 3.0 is easy. You don’t have to select a cross-platform tool or design native apps. It’s also cheaper. Finally, companies have the skill set in-house to design these apps so simple Intranet style mobile apps are a good first step to mobile-enabling data and services. But it’s not the end design goal for all of your applications.
The most important step in a strategy is getting started, but the strategy must also have a plan for advancing existing applications and services. How are you mobile-enabling your corporation?
Maribel Lopez is the CEO and mobile market strategist for Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in communications technologies with a heavy emphasis on the disruptive nature of mobile technologies. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.