By Mark Lorion, Apperian
Enterprise mobile apps can be transformational for every department and across every industry. But to make an impact, apps need to be adopted. Whether an organization has a custom-built app, a third party app or a combination of the two, it is imperative to get them in the hands of users who can benefit from them.
The issue of mobile app adoption is often overlooked and the anticipated impact of the application falls flat.
IT often works exhaustively on a plan leading up to launch and it ends there; they celebrate turning the app or app store on. This mistake often stems from a false assumption that if you build a mobile app, people will come. Many people incorrectly believe that successful consumer apps fly off the shelf due to word of mouth. That’s practically never the case, and it doesn’t hold in the enterprise either.
Building or procuring great mobile apps certainly helps, but creating a plan to drive adoption early in your process and applying proven best practices will significantly increase your likelihood of mobile app success.
Here are three tips to ensure your mobile app gets adopted and your organization reaps its full ROI:
Deliver Mobile Apps that Matter to Your 'Customer'
Enterprises that experience the highest degrees of success have mobile app sponsors or admins that think and act like general managers. They see end users not as users but as "customers." Enterprise users aren’t purchasing the app, per se, but they are buying into it with their time. App sponsors deeply understand what their customers need and how they’re trying to get their jobs completed, as well as how they become aware of tools inside the company and decide which will be helpful.
Don’t assume you know everything your target audience needs. Researching is a good first step, but getting end users involved early and giving them a critical role (recommending mobile apps, helping design them) will result in a better product and organic support.
Once you understand your customer, you must deliver a mobile app that matters – something that transforms a pain point or process within users’ daily workflow. Few apps will be relevant to everyone, so segment your customer base and understand what you must deliver to each group.
Mobile apps should have a clear use case and measure of success, such as increased revenue for a sales-specific app or time saved for an expense report app.
Create a Rollout Campaign for Your Mobile App
A successful enterprise mobility project is equal parts application development and marketing. This doesn’t require IT to become a marketing master, but each app deployment must be treated like a campaign. It’s a great chance for IT people to develop marketing and business skills. It also presents an opportunity for cross-pollination, rounding out a cross-functional team with someone from your organization’s marketing department, which will pay dividends when it’s time to begin rollout.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to communicating application availability. Promotion can span typical marketing techniques such as corporate portals, staff meeting announcements, posters and email blasts. It should also leverage non-traditional techniques.
The mobile industry moves more quickly than other enterprise IT segments, and doing things differently during rollout sends a powerful signal that your initiative will move at a different pace and be more customer-centric. Consider contests, internal whisper campaigns, lunch n’ learns and videos with internal company "personalities."
This is also where investment you made developing stakeholders early on will yield a huge payoff. If you have thousands of people at your organization, unofficial "spokespeople" from within the user base can help champion mobile app awareness better than your corporate newsletter. Water cooler talk is often the groundswell needed for your application initiative to take off.
Think Agile, Think Iteratively
New mobile apps are constantly introduced and existing apps updated in the consumer world. Enterprise users will have this expectation too. Mobility initiatives must be viewed as an iterative project rather than a big-bang launch.
An application pipeline management approach to keep your project growing and apps evolving to meet changing needs is critical. This includes using analytics to uncover how the mobile app is, or is not, being used. You should measure and react to user’s touch points along the app download and usage journey and analyze the "waterfall" of behavior to identify opportunities to increase usage such as proactive support, training and UX enhancements.
You should also implement processes to capture new ideas from your user base and give your mobility initiative scale. You don’t need to have every mobile app ready for day one. In fact, you may be better served to make visible a pipeline of ideas so users see feedback is being captured and new apps will continue coming.
Augment custom apps with curated public ones; introducing new versions and adding new mobile apps gives users reason to come back to your catalog and will drive adoption.
Your role is to help users become better mobile workers in general, not just to get them to use your custom apps or launch an enterprise app store. Getting close to users and thinking of them as "customers" will lead you in the right and most valuable direction.
Even if you don’t follow agile methods in software development, mobile projects are a good opportunity to do that in a sandbox. Even if you’re in IT and marketing isn’t a focus, mobile projects are a great place to develop those skills.
Think holistically about your enterprise mobility initiative. It’s a constant machine that needs to be run to see success and impact your organization in a real way.
Mark Lorion is chief marketing officer at Apperian, an enterprise-class mobile application management and app store platform for the secure delivery of critical apps to 100 percent of users across an organization.