Many enterprises are seizing on opportunities to better engage customers, business partners, and employees through mobile. In fact, mobile has become so ubiquitous that Gartner predicts 25% of large companies will have deployed their own enterprise app stores by 2017.

Still, one of the things that CIOs and other organizational leaders have learned is that a “build-it-and-they-will-come” approach doesn’t work when it comes to building or deploying mobile apps. Mobile apps need to address specific use cases and needs for target users, including employees, customers (where applicable), contract workers, business partners, and other stakeholders.

Organizations that have deployed mobile apps and access to mobile websites have witnessed strong engagement from customers and employees. Nevertheless, the enterprise mobile evolution is still early days, as witnessed by a Ponemon Institute study which reveals that 30% of companies still lack mobile strategies.

Assessing the user base

A good starting point for enterprise mobility is identifying the types of mobile apps that are desired by or could benefit target users. It’s a big challenge for CIOs as the types of enterprise apps that could benefit employees and other members of the extended enterprise is so varied, ranging from commercial off the shelf apps, custom apps, native apps (mainly for iOS and Android), and HTML5 apps.

A report conducted by Citrix reveals that mobile email (including calendars and contacts) is far and away the most popular mobile app in the enterprise, followed by line-of-business, enterprise file sync and sharing, collaboration tools, secure browsers and Sharepoint apps. Other mobile apps that have also generated heavy use across different industries include ERP, CRM, field service, and sales and marketing apps.

Another way to identify apps that offer high usage rates and productivity is by canvassing employees, contractors, and other potential users. What are the apps that could help them to do their jobs better, more easily, and from any location? What are the features missing in desktop apps they’d like to have included in mobile versions that are deployed or created? Employee surveys, town hall meetings, breakfast/lunch discussions, and department-specific gatherings are great ways to solicit feedback and to get employees engaged in the types of apps and features they’d like to have available.  

Once apps have been deployed, an enterprise app store that includes a rating and feedback system can be used to identify which apps employees like and which ones need fine tuning or replacement. Keeping employees and other users involved in the discussion is an excellent way to strengthen engagement and usage.

Stakeholder responses can also be used to identify potential apps that are not yet on the company’s radar screen.  

Many organizations have adopted a so-called ‘mobile-first’ approach to enterprise mobility in which mobile apps are initially created for mobile devices and operating systems, with desktops and other platforms to follow. Even though the use of mobile devices in the workplace is skyrocketing, perhaps a more effective approach to putting the right apps into the hands of the right sets of users is a ‘mobile-appropriate’ methodology. Before creating or purchasing an app, determine whether it is suited for use by a set of employees and other users and whether it satisfies a specific set of needs.

What are some additional steps that can be taken to strengthen the deployment and adoption of mobile apps across the enterprise? Please join the HMG Strategy network discussion to share your thoughts on these opportunities and challenges.