Focus on the user; don’t let outdated ideas slow you down; rollout in weeks.
Why does it seem that consumer technology is better, faster to learn, and improves at a far faster speed than business technology?
Improvements (enterprise applications call them “upgrades”) are continuous – your apps on your cell phone update themselves seamlessly, and the new functionality rolled out is often a generational leap.
Take speech-to-text translation. We have had years of electronics trying to provide good speech to text translation. Have you tried to use ‘voice’ to create a text message lately? It’s dramatically better. Was there training and change management involved, where you had system down time and a long-term project with weekly reviews for Apple’s IT to roll out the new capability? No. It just came to your phone. And it works.
Yet improvements to business applications seem to take forever, and usually come with an implementation or learning cost.
User focus is the difference. And modern technology helps you to be able to have a user focus that you previously could not have.
Consumer applications have always focused on the user experience. Back-end integration and data manipulation are all done in the background and have no impact on the user. Think of your financial app that provides you a consolidated view across your bank accounts, brokerage and more.
Business applications, on the other hand, have traditionally focused on the back office and then extended out to the user, resulting in decidedly non-user-friendly experiences.
All of that is changing now. A new generation of enterprise mobile apps is redefining how business applications can be rolled out. They bring the best of cloud-mobile technology that has been so effective for consumers to the business world. Rollouts happen now within weeks; user feedback, changes to configuration, updates take hours.
Let’s look at the example of a mobile field workforce – how do you provide ready business to field integration for your field crew?
The traditional way of implementing would be to wait until the incumbent enterprise vendor provides a field workforce module that would need to go through capital acquisition. A team would be put together to implement (often at a cost of 3-6 times the purchase cost of the application). Processes get redesigned and changed to fit the canned solution, and field workers would be taught new ways of doing their work. At irregular and sometimes multi-annual intervals, there will be revisions, retraining and improvements.
A field worker focus would look like consumer technology. An enterprise mobile app that runs on any smartphone or tablet can be downloaded. Configuration of existing forms, data names, options, etc. take place in the cloud within days. User fires up the app and uses it. User interface is simple and intuitive – change management and user training are far easier. Back-office work in the cloud ensures that it integrates well where it must, but the key is to make it simple for the user.
The worker-focused technology method not only shaves months of any implementation, it also allows for businesses to be agile and able to take immediate advantage of improving technologies. Improvements in phones, including voice recognition, bar code reading, object identification, OCR, cameras, etc. can immediately be used.
Reviewing work orders and service orders on the field, updating them in real-time and working offline should all be standard features of any enterprise mobile app for your field workforce.
Businesses should consider looking at the galloping speed of advances in consumer technology and jump aboard to enjoy the rapid improvements. Utilities, transit agencies and construction companies see particular value in mobile apps that are easy to use for their field workers. Connixt’s cloud-mobile suite – iMarq – is focused on the end user and is geared to rapid implementation.