As the age of mobile tightens its grip on the world, companies are working double-time to figure out exactly how the use of smartphones and tablets fit into their working world. While some companies have navigated this new terrain fairly easily, many companies are struggling to find the right balance when it comes to mobile programs. Their biggest downfalls are trying to completely recreate a desktop program into a clunky, over-stuffed mobile app and not understanding the tenets mobile design.
In fact, this is such an issue that it’s poised to cost US and UK based companies a pretty penny in the next year and a half. Here’s some research from Antenna Software that highlights the problem (from Computer Business Review):
U.K. and U.S business are planning to spend an estimated £285k on mobile software tools for their employees in the next year and a half, but much of that money will be wasted.
According to research released by Antenna Software, only 25% of IT and business decision makers said their employees had embraced their mobile initiatives. …
According to the Mobile Business Forecast 2012 report, many companies are failing to engage their employees on mobile projects because of poorly designed applications that lack business logic and usability.
“More businesses than ever are now building mobile apps to help employees work more effectively, but it’s clear that a good deal of time and money is going to waste through poor design,” said Ken Parmelee, Senior Director of Product Management at Antenna. “Companies need to pay more attention to the end user and how and when they are going to use the app.”
The important lesson here is that just because your app is free and has a built-in market doesn’t mean you can lower your standards or ignore what end users like. It isn’t enough to take a program employees use on a computer and make it “more accessible” by translating it into an app. You need to fully understand how the program can be useful on-the-go and focus solely on the features that would be handy and increase productivity in a mobile, untethered setting.
What’s the best way to make sure employees will respond positively to an app and actually use it? Test the app. You already have a built in set of in-the-wild testers who know exactly what they need and don’t need from a business app. You couldn’t ask for a better audience! Just like any app, if testers have issues with the functionality or usability of an app, users aren’t likely to pick it up after launch – even if it is designed specifically for their job.
Antenna explains that testing mobile apps are important to make sure that employees will actually want to use them.
“Apps which don’t have offline functionality, a poor user interface, or fail to integrate fully with the capabilities of the user device are likely to be left ‘on the shelf’,” said Parmelee. “Businesses need to prototype their apps and test them in the wild if they want to ensure that they’ll be used and have a positive impact on employees once rolled out.”