The 4 pillars of successful mobile business applications

  • Analyze the needs of your audience before you begin designing the app.

  • The best apps define the right data, the right transaction, and context for each device.

  • IT should define success metrics, add analytics to track, and refine the metrics to get the most of mobile apps.

Consumer mobile applications are successful because they offer simplicity and utility. However, most mobile business applications are complex and lack the right functionality. To create usable business apps, companies need a four-part strategy that defines the user, task, impact, and process.  

  1. User. First, the designer must understand its audience. Many companies simply replicate an existing app instead of reevaluating who uses the app and what the app needs to accomplish. App and device requirements vary tremendously based on the user. For example, a field service worker may need a hands-free app that focuses on voice navigation, while a business manager may need the ability to customize views and create content. Make sure to analyze the needs of your audience before you begin designing the app.
  2. Task. Mobile apps shouldn’t recreate everything IT has offered in PC apps. The best apps will define the right data and the right transaction for each type of device and the context, such as location, network quality, and current process. For example, Geico’s mobile app showcases information and tasks that are appropriate for a driver on the go, such as view and share your ID card, report and view your claims, and get roadside assistance linked to a driver’s current location.
  3. Impact. IT frequently struggles to demonstrate mobile return on investment because the team didn’t work with the business unit leaders to define success metrics at the outset. While the number of app downloads is frequently listed as a key metric, it isn’t an indication of success. According to Localytics, 20 percent of apps are only opened once. IT should define success metrics, add analytics to applications to track these metrics, and work with the business units to refine the metrics as necessary. Success metrics could include quantifying an increase in orders, reduced time to complete tasks, and improvement in data collection accuracy.
  4. Process. There are two parts to the process for mobile-enabling the business. The first part centers on app development, while the second focuses on the security, delivery, and maintenance of an application. Many companies focus on building the perfect app, but the app development team should start small and iterate often. For example, the app team should focus on designing a single task that is useful, such as inventory availability, then solicit feedback for additional features. Leading mobile apps teams frequently spend “a day in the life” of the user to observe and understand the actual process workflow. While the design phase of an application is important, a company also needs to build a foundation to support the mobile app life-cycle. For example, IT needs to build a way to deliver mobile application security and management for app discovery, security, friction-less updates, and feedback loops.

Companies seek mobile strategy advice from analysts, consultants, and service providers to gain an outside-in perspective on what their users need, what’s technically possible, and what are best practices. If you evaluate your projects based on the four pillars listed above, your team will be better positioned to work with third parties and internal teams to build apps that matter.

Read more about AT&T Mobility solutions.

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. All opinions are her own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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