How to Mobilize Web and Desktop Business Apps

MobileQuestion

If you’re a business with a suite of mobile apps, you have an advantage in the mobile game. You already have a product direction. You also have a technology foundation. The trick is determining appropriate directions for mobile apps which leverage these assets. What to mobilize?

1. Identify Candidates
Look first at your existing app suite, whether it’s desktop or web. Pinpoint areas that provide simple, easy-to-display feedback to the user. Look for important or frequently used:

  • Dashboards
  • Reports
  • Functionality

If you’re not certain about functionality, then focus on important junctures in your users’ workflow.  Seek ways to facilitate key decisions. Identify candidates for migration from your existing application suite.

2. Sell and Market
Some of the best apps are artful blends of key functionality, useful marketing collateral, and the sale of relevant products. Marketing collateral can include videos, images, and articles. Sales can include e-commerce, so the user can shop for themselves, or tactful, appropriate offers. Sales and marketing in an app can be useful and valuable to a user if it is carefully considered. Don’t just put in pitches and collateral that you think are slick.  Ask yourself: I’m a user and I’ve taken my valuable time to download this app. Does it give me what I need? Will I be amazed and delighted by it? Useful tools such as customized needs assessments, calculators, or interactive graphs can engage a user while stoking the sales process.

2. Consumption Not Production
Mobile device screens are smaller than their PC counterparts and the mobile experience is generally about speed, not depth. Many PC apps are 50% about viewing information and 50% about entering and interacting with it. PCs are production tools, built for helping their users produce information. Mobile devices are tiny media centers, built for easy consumption of information. Take what your apps are already doing and simplify it so that the user experience is closer to 80% viewing info and only 20% interaction, and make that 20% extremely easy on your user.  (and most mobile production seems to be of a social nature) Give them quick access to tons of your apps’ great content with as little effort on their part as possible.  Mobile users with their apps are mostly consuming (and communicating) not producing.

3. Leverage Existing Tech
Reuse of your databases and other back-end tech like stored procedures and APIs may help save your company a lot of time and money. Don’t assume that everything will have to be written from scratch. If you’re working from an existing system, it’s more likely that you’ll simply need an “adapter” from the old back-end to your new mobile one.

4. Innovate
Opportunities abound for innovation in mobile so don’t be afraid to go off script. Mobile apps are not always just tinier versions of web apps.  Innovation in mobile often has to do with taking advantage of unique phone capabilities, like GPS, camera, voice, integration with other systems and objects, real-time notifications and updates, or simply the fact that the user takes the device wherever they go.

You and your team will probably come up with dozens of ideas for great mobile apps.  Run them by your staff, and even by a few trusted users. Then pick the top three. Ask yourself which one of those would make your users ecstatic and commit to it.  Flesh it out. Build a prototype. Show it to your users and see what they say.

That’s how to mobilize.

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