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Experience Design

Six ways to make enterprise mobile apps more engaging

It is no secret that the current mobile revolution is primarily consumer driven. iOS and Android devices made inroads in the consumer market first and consequently enterprises felt the push from their employees.
However, the enterprise mobile apps present a huge opportunity to learn from the consumer app experience by focusing on making employees more engaged. Are there lessons to be learned from popular game app like Angry Birds or the news consumption/interaction app such as Flipboard.
Here are six strategies to making better enterprise apps with fruitful engagement:
1. Increase context awareness use  
If you find that your mobile apps are not integrating any device capability such as location, maps, compass, camera etc you may be missing out on opportunities to increase your apps stickiness. If you are designing a mobile app for your field engineering staff, you can imagine possibilities beyond the basic support case tracking functions. Does taking pictures enhance the understanding of the case? Is recording audio notes and attaching to the case a possibility? Is geo-tagging a client site helpful? Collecting this type of data may yield additional insights into your workforce and the way they work. This data may open up opportunities for efficiencies, newer business models and processes.
2. Increase social networking footprint in enterprise functions
There is a lot activity, ideas, feedback being shared in real time across various social media channels right now. Mobile apps represent an opportunity to leverage such channels internally. Perhaps all your enterprise activity does not belong on these public channels, however, internally there could be a lot gained by increasing collaboration, discovery, and feedback. In our field engineering app example, a team could benefit by learning in real time where the workforce is, based on their geo-tagged locations.

3. Gamify your user goals and functions
Gamification is the concept of applying game-design principles to non-game apps to make them more fun and engaging. Apps usually start with easier goals and progress towards tougher goals. Enterprises can enable mobile apps to track personal milestones and incentivize employees to achieve higher milestones. For field engineers, this could mean awarding badges upon successful completion of cases as well as badges for helping other engineers. Integrating this into the mobile app could mean a more connected and engaged workforce.
4. Aggregate multiple functions and tie them together
The success of apps such as Flipboard highlight the importance of aggregating content into a single place. Having multiple sources of information in a single place is a superior experience to having to launch multiple apps. If you are a manager, does the app allow you an aggregated window in the areas of your concern? If you are field engineer, does the app allow you to manage multiple concerns in a single spot?
5. Enable apps to integrate with other frequently used apps
If you have a list of events and contacts in your app, should the app allow integrating those to the native device calendar and contacts? Allowing such an integration may increase the usability of these functions. Should your enterprise mobile app make use of Notifications? There may be opportunities to increase communication by incorporating notifications – both local and push.
6. Simplify and clean user interfaces, interaction and experiences
Forget how the apps looks today on desktop and browsers.  Create a brand new experience by focusing on simplifying the new experience. The usage mode of mobile apps is very transaction oriented and users get used to it. This mode of interaction presents opportunities for simplification of business processes and the constraints presented such as difficulty in data entry give rise to exploring alternatives that speed up business transactions. Scanning documents and extracting text out of them, instead of data entry is such an example. In case of our field engineering app, the engineers can get a finger signature from the client and acceptance indicating satisfactory closure of a ticket.
Do you agree that enterprise mobile apps need to step up the engagement game? Which enterprise mobile apps do you love? Which ones do you think exceed expectations and set standards? Share your thoughts with us!
Further reading:
1. Is User Engagement with Enterprise Software all that Important?
2. What Enterprise Software Firms Can Learn From Angry Birds
3. The Angry Birds Space approach to enterprise mobile apps
4. What makers of business apps can learn from Angry Birds

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Amit Malhotra

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