I had the great fortune to attend the Mobile Government Summit for 2015 in London last week. It was really exciting to see how UK government agencies were embracing mobility and particularly how much they were thinking about mobility for the enterprise. It seems nearly everyone now recognizes that they need to provide mobile experiences for their consumers or clients. Smart enterprises are starting to give employees’ the same consideration. After all, if a properly designed mobile experience helps your consumers complete their interactions with you, doesn’t it appear obvious that your employees could be more productive it you could break the chains that tie them to laptops and desktops?
The event was held at the QEII center in London, right across the street from Westminster Abby and was very well attended. The attendees ran the full spectrum of government service providers from police departments, the National Health Service, housing and local councils and the like. The event featured a great lineup of speakers with a good mix of vendors and participants contributing.
Usablenet’s Chief Marketing Officer, Carin Van Vuuren and I spoke on User Trends, and how to use these trends to improve the experience and adoption of enterprise mobile apps. We focused on six areas of concern we feel apply to most enterprises. We started with the requirement for a cohesive mobile strategy. Too many teams start a mobile project because the CEO said that the company needed an app. Focus on why you need an app, and focus on use cases that are validated with users before you start. The next step is to ensure you can scale to mobile. This doesn’t just mean your backend infrastructure can handle it, but also whether your people can scale to the needs. You may find that your new mobile peak usage times are after business hours, right in the timeframe you currently backup your application data! When you decide to go mobile, you have to make sure that your team has the right skills, and you have enough resources to take on this task. This is particularly true in the QA space. You cannot test mobile web sites in a desktop browser and expect success. Do your current tools meet the development and testing needs for mobile?
A substantial part of our presentation focused on UX and why organizations need to adhere to a the power principles that govern UX (see figure below). Designing for mobile is not the same as designing for desktop, and the sophistication and expectations of mobile users must be met for an enterprise app to be effective. Finally, we brought up the 800-pound gorilla, security. Exposing the enterprise data to the wilds of the mobile network and devices has scared people out of adopting a mobile strategy for enterprise apps. Choosing the right partners can calm those fears. Having a secure set of RESTful API’s can be key to allowing secure access to the data your employees need to be more productive and do business on mobile.
One of the best talks I attended while at the conference was done by Adrian Hutchinson of the Metropolitan Police Service. He spoke about the pilot program they are running now deploying 700 iPads to the beat police, or has he called them, panda car drivers. I really felt they did the program right. They started with a time study of the subjects and found that the average panda car officer spent 45% of their time in the station. It is not optimal that the person who is supposed to be out patrolling is spending almost half the day in the station. What drove most of this in-office time was taking the handwritten notes they took an adding them to the crime reports. They built an iPad app that allows the officers to add their notes directly into the system. Not only did the app reduce time in station, report quality also improved. Images could be added directly into the notes, something that was previously impossible. Costs were further reduced by reducing the number of clerk typists who would take the handwritten reports and enter them into the system. Crime reports now also make it into the system faster, having an impact on case solve rates. All in all, an excellent use for an enterprise application, that started with a strategy and a great set of background requirements and metrics.
For readers focusing on enterprise apps, we welcome the chance to help you get started on an enterprise strategy. If you are further along, we can help with UX research, enterprise services to help you scale, API’s or building your enterprise app. Of course, our proven platform provides robust security that can shield your enterprise from attack.
Roland is the Director of Solutions Engineering at Usablenet.