Most of the CIOs are today looking emphatically at using mobile deployment as one of their key agenda for business transformation. Enterprise mobility continues to be most sought after discussion topic at most of the business transformation meetings and conferences. However, for the organisations to build a scalable and robust enterprise mobility strategy, CIOs would need to critically look at their technology blueprint and preempt some of the possible pitfalls and work arounds to counter these. We try and look at a concise check list that could help CIOs to ensure they build their mobility road map on a rock solid, scalable and flexible strategy while selecting an appropriate Mobile Enterprise Application platform (MEAP).
MEAP Platform selection
Its indeed a great idea to select a Mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) as a baseline to build and deploy mobile apps within the enterprise rather than building bespoke apps and end up creating a clutter of apps demanding a much higher maintenance and churn. While you select a platform, be sure that it needs to support diverse mobile OS, should be able to natively integrate into multiple ERP/CRMs, needs to be agnostic to network and carrier and most importantly needs to be flexible enough to deliver rapid changes and upgrades. Remember in an enterprise context, mobility will always be a part of business transformation and hence would involve process changes and hence application tweaks.
Make sure that apps would be available to the user community through app stores such as iTunes or Google Play Store. In certain cases you may also need to ring fence the delivery by hosting it within enterprise bound App Store. Its also a great idea to have provisioning capability within the mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP).
Fast and easy access to the information is one of the pre-requisite of user acceptance. Most of the companies would have implemented an active directory and users would resist the idea of having separate user credentials for their apps and their enterprise access. Make sure that the app consumes the active directory authentication and offers a single sign-on for the end user.
App Management and BYOD
BYOD is here to stay. Users will bring their own devices with their personal data to work. It could be vital for the organisations to implement a robust, yet simple, mobile device management platform (MDM) to manage these devices, access to networks, ability to white list and black list the apps etc. In the long run this would ensure that all the sanctity of the enterprise platforms and apps is maintained and users are able to keep their critical enterprise data secure and safe on the devices. Make sure that the MEAP you select is able to integrate with third party MDM tools.
Native Integration Capability to ERP
While most of the use cases for app deployment in an enterprise would evolve around the last mile scenario, it would be imperative that app is able to exchange data seamlessly with enterprise tools like ERP, CRM, Business Intelligence tools etc and provide with an unmatched value for the mobile implementation. Be sure that the mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) that you select is able to integrate into multiple IT platforms simultaneously and in real time, rather than building a batch mode integration capability. It would also be a great idea to critically inspect the licensing issues related to the ERP or CRM in question. There is a chance that the mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) that you select will eventually also help you to reduce the cost of licensing.
User analytics and feedback
You can’t improve the application and the tools and value that they offer to the end user unless you know how people use the application, usage trends, capture application performance trends by integrating app analytics. An enterprise deployment would always go through series of upgrades owing to performance or process changes and analytics integration would help you to ensure that you match user expectations or rather excel these.
Offline.. way to success
For a scalable and optimum deployment of the mobile app in the enterprise, one of the most important aspect is ability of the app to work in an offline mode. An offline mode ensures that users are able to retrieve data or capture data effortlessly and not limited by access to internet or quality of the internet speeds. An offline capable application will ensure that app acceptance is much higher in the user community since they will be able to use the app even without availability of mobile internet
One of the bottlenecks in a successful implementation of enterprise mobile app is availability of mobile internet and quality of internet connections. Be sure to look for the Mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) which not only has capability to work in offline mode but also has ability to push the data without an internet connection.
Hybrid or Native
HTML5 continues to be a more evolving landscape and it may be a good idea to critically look at every aspect of the application requirement and then choose the development strategy – native or hybrid. Do look for a MEAP that supports both the development environments.
Do remember that in an enterprise mobility deployment, one of the most critical part is change management. Unlike a consumer app, in business parlance, process do undergo reengineering. Most businesses there is an on-going business transformation exercise to improve existing business process, validations etc. Ensure that the MEAP that you select is able to quickly turn around to accommodate the app changes and thereby ensuring a lower change management and much seamless version management for the applications.