When you consider the use of smartphones in your company, it’s easy to see how you’d view them as a business tool first, but also as a potential instrument of distraction that can be a drag on productivity in your organization.
At the same time, you and your fellow stakeholders have heard that there are some benefits when it comes to the internal use of business apps in the enterprise environment.
Business Apps For Efficiency, Communication & Collaboration
Rather than merely being used for games and marketing tools, apps have a place in the business environment to improve efficiency and foster more communication and collaboration among your employees.
Before you start brainstorming about what needs to be included in your own app, here are some options to consider:
App Integration with Business Software You Already Use
Your first consideration should be how the new app will work with the business software already in place. Standard office suites including a word processor, spreadsheet, email and presentation software should connect seamlessly with the app.
But it should also integrate with your CRM application as well as software being used in the human resources department.
For best results, ask IT and other department managers to report on what software they consider essential to daily operations. Then, you’ll have the details to make a case for inclusion or not when you determine what internal software should integrate with the app you wind up developing.
Company Issued Smartphones and “BYOD” Policies
The use of smartphone apps in the enterprise environment has increased in recent years, noted in a recent report from CIO, which described an emerging trend of Bring Your Own Device or BYOD activity.
The smartphones may be company-issued equipment or personal devices owned completely by the workers.
In either case, if workers are using these devices to access proprietary data, you’ll want to issue guidelines to protect your confidential information as well as intellectual property. Best practices will call for your company to build an app that includes the latest in encryption and other security measures.
You can include a customized dashboard in your app that will be cross-platform. That way, it won’t matter if some workers carry iPhones while others rely on Android models. The app will appear and function the same on either type of device.
Supporting Employees While They’re on the Road
Think of all the workers who leave your premises to go out on sales calls, attend trade shows or make presentations to investors. You may want to give them access to the same tools as those used by employees who remain at headquarters. You may also want to support local employees who work from home or even members of the team who participate from disparate locations.
A customized app that you create for your employees can help them do their jobs more easily. For example, “If one of your salespeople is at a conference, and he or she starts networking and picking up new potential leads, how do the details of these leads make it back to your internal database?”
That’s a question posed by a report from TechCo, which described the traditional way of taking care of this problem would be to take local notes out in the field, only to type them into the system once they get back to the office.
That’s a tremendous waste of time. No workers should ever have to enter the same information twice. Instead, a company app will let them enter this information directly into the CRM remotely.
It will be much more efficient for salespeople to update leads in real time, while the details of the encounters are still fresh in their minds.
Cloud Computing Integration
Keep in mind that your employees’ smartphones will have limited storage capacity. What’s more, it would be foolish to rely solely on their internal memory to keep crucial files that your company uses day-in and day-out. With that in mind, you will want to make sure that the new app you develop will have the ability to integrate with cloud computing.
For example, let’s say an employee has notes about a new customer to enter into the CRM. Being able to do this while in a remote location instead of waiting to get back to the office will do wonders for your efficiency.
Another common situation involves digital contracts that headquarters want to see ASAP. When everyone in the enterprise can save files to the cloud, you have an easy path to maintain backups of crucial data.
Do you frequently send workers out into the world to put on demonstrations for interested buyers or members of the media? An app’s access to the cloud can provide access to files that might normally be too large to store on employee devices.
You also don’t need to make low-resolution versions of photos and videos for use on a smartphone. Accessing these demo files wirelessly will be a snap when you serve them from your cloud computing services provider.
What’s more, with a cloud computing feature, you can resume operations quickly even if data is inaccessible locally because of server issues in your own data center.
Collaboration and Communication
It’s common for people to think of mobile apps only as customer-facing, often with some aspect of marketing and lead generation built into the software. Or, the apps are designed for entertainment and distraction. But your new app can be a tool that promotes communication and enables members of the team to work more effectively together.
You’ll want to ensure that the app lets employees access all the same files from the central server. The files will be updated, so workers won’t be concerned that they are looking at obsolete information.
Include communication channels in your new app, such as text messaging and audio or video conferencing. Employees can even meet virtually without the need to book time in a conference room. Social media and email integration can further strengthen employee communication via the app.
No Need to Rely on Off-the-shelf Apps
The demand for enterprise smartphone apps will increase to five times the demand for development resources, according to CIO. This highlights the need to begin development with a solid strategy. “Part of that strategy should include getting stakeholders on board, defining the ROI and clearly illustrating who the app will help, and why.”
Furthermore, you’ll need a “go-to-market” strategy to promote the enterprise app internally, seeking feedback and otherwise encouraging engagement with employees.
It’s easy to see how relying on off-the-shelf apps may not be the best approach for your company. However, if you lack the internal resources to develop an app on your own and see no clear path to hiring experienced developers to join your effort, you can always partner with experts. It is probably more cost-effective than you’d think…
Interested in a mobile app for your organization? Read our resource about “The Hidden Costs Of Building Mobile Apps” to continue learning. Or, give us a call at 804-451-6016 with questions.