With a wide range of productivity apps on the market for enterprise, such as Evernote, Slack and Microsoft’s current release of a truly native Outlook app for Android and iOS, companies have access to a plethora of off the shelf solutions that could improve the way they operate. An off the shelf solution can help to achieve the desired effect without spending extra time and resource on development.

However, developing a custom app is often necessary to achieve specific business objectives. A custom solution can be developed for a specific business, its unique processes and requirements to deliver maximum value. Custom development provides the ideal opportunity to consider the unique user experience of a very specific end user.

Deciding whether to choose an off-the-shelf or custom app should depend on what you need the app to achieve and how the needs of the end user will be met. Regardless of which solution is suitable, companies need to incorporate mobility into their core operations now.

With an estimated 1.3 billion mobile workers in 2015, there is no denying that the influence of mobile is deeply imbedded in our personal and professional lives. Mobile is having a transformative effect on businesses, particularly where enterprise apps have been shown to boost employee productivity by 34%, according to some reports.

When it comes to planning for and developing enterprise apps there are a variety of factors to consider, as JP Luchetti, Consultancy Director at Mubaloo covered at the recent London Market Technology Exchange event.

JP highlighted that to harness the full potential of apps, user centricity needs to be at the core of app development and mobile app strategy. Through understanding and identifying what the end user will gain from using the app, be that an employee or a consumer, app adoption will follow.

When formulating a mobile app strategy, companies need to consider the user at this initial stage. By doing so, companies can identify the primary needs of the user and how an app can help to facilitate those needs in the most user friendly way possible. Incorporating in-app analytics will provide insight into how the app is used, creating a better understanding of user behaviour and usage patterns to amend their strategy or app functionality where necessary.

It is however evitable that user behaviour will change over time. As this happens, companies need to adapt and update their approach. In early 2011, we worked with Hargreaves Lansdown to develop the first ever live trading app for iOS and Android. Built in analytics revealed usage patterns, which helped identify an additional opportunity for Hargreaves to engage with their clients and prospective clients. The iPhone and Android app was peaking in the morning, while people were on the move and on their way to work, while the desktop website was being used during the day when people were at work. Hargreave’s Lansdown identified that there was a need to ‘fill the gap’ between the desktop website and smartphone app when users were not interacting or transacting with HL at all.

Noticing the rise in traffic between 2011 and 2013 from the iPad, and the number of people who were installing the iPhone version on the iPad, Hargreaves and Mubaloo set about creating an app designed around tablet usage habits.

Understanding the user and translating that into a seamless user experience is key, requiring a focus on design, usability and providing what the user needs at any one time. Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo! recently discussed the design principles Yahoo! tries to follow. As far as Yahoo! is concerned, users should never be two clicks away from what they need on mobile.

With beacon technology this takes that theory even further, reducing the number of clicks and improving usability. Beacons at the front user end, mean that not only should the app present itself to a user when they enter a location via a notification or other method, but also means that it opens in the right place, with the right information for them to get what they need, when they need it. This helps to drive more intelligent ways of creating apps that enhances the experience. If this can be achieved, adoption will be welcomed.

In summary, for apps to be used, they have to be useful for the end user which requires thinking about the strategy behind an app and what it is meant to achieve. Next comes focusing on the user experience and making it both easy to use, but also powerful and intelligent, this may also mean providing the user with a sense of feedback that helps to keep them engaged. Through understanding how apps can bring value to your end user and incorporating an immersive and interactive UI, instant ROI will be seen.

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