No one can disregard the growth of mobile smartphones and tablets in the continent. It is even with great concern that most companies have been overwhelmed with the “bring your own device” narrative as workers use various personal gadgets to access company details.
In the near future, companies both great and small will not be able to hide from smartphone technology. Some business processes will be handled through various mobile devices heralding the age of mobile enterprise apps.
Informa Africa Telecoms Outlook suggests that by 2017 (less than 3 years away) the smartphone ownership in Africa will be 334 million.
Magic Solutions a mobile enterprise company, suggests six ways in which companies can implement mobile enterprise solutions.
1. Limit the scope of your mobile apps. Focusing on the exact process you want to mobilize increases the chances for success. Launching a huge project that mobilizes several processes at once can result in too many technical complexities, a poor user experience, and too high of a risk that the project will be bogged down by long decision-making processes and political issues.
2. Encourage employee involvement. Getting employees involved early and often increases the chances for smooth adoption of mobile apps and positions IT as a business unit that drives app development based on business value. Employee involvement can be encouraged by inviting users to describe which tasks are the most time intensive and can benefit from being mobilized.
3. Consider the context. Mobile users don’t work the same way they do on a desktop. Small screen sizes and keyboards mean that users will not put up with digging through multiple folders or screens to find and input information. A tablet might be more suitable for sales people showing clients product documentation and taking orders while it may be easy to enable managers to approve purchase orders from their smartphones. Developers should analyze each task and then determine the type of device it would work best on.
4. Plan for rapid prototyping. The mobile environment is very dynamic so speed to market is important, but you also need to make sure the apps meet usability expectations or they won’t be used. Allowing users to provide input on functionality at the early stages and for developers to make the needed adjustments quickly, results in a final product that is usable and meets business objectives.
5. Reuse functionalities. Certain functions repeat themselves across enterprise applications, including logon and menu screens, data synchronization processes, integration of location and charting services, and more. Developing them from scratch each time wastes valuable time and can introduce errors. When functional components are based on best practices, fully customizable and are part of a common framework, reusing them also eliminates a layer of decision making, makes for easier management, and assures a consistent look, feel and user experience across applications that increases usability and adoption.
6. Employ a mobile application development platform. A multi-channel application development platform helps accelerate the process of shifting business processes to mobile by enabling users to leverage a single development effort to deploy apps for multiple mobile devices and operating systems. A development platform also enables mobiles apps to be easily scaled up for more users or scaled out to include more functionality. But make note that enterprise apps almost always involve connections to backend data, so you can make your development life easier by choosing one that provides integration capabilities that run on the same technology stack.