This article addresses the basic challenges associated with developing a mobile channel for your business. Mobile is fast becoming a requisite for doing business at all and IT and marketing departments within enterprises of all sizes have seen a monumental shift in how their users (customers, employees, and partners) interact with them—and this shift has come much faster than imagined. The traditional means through which to engage customers and in particular, one’s own employees has moved from desktop PC to laptop to mobile with lightning speed. This has left many companies scrambling to build an enterprise mobile channel to keep them competitive.
But when it comes to building a mission-critical enterprise mobile channel, it must be noted that mobile app development is just the tip of the iceberg. Before hiring an iOS or Android developer, or engaging with an app development firm to think through the tactical complexities of building the app, there are many other factors that must be addressed. This includes the following:
1. Mobile Strategy Development
2. Cloud and Wireless Infrastructure Considerations
3. Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Support
4. Network and Device Security
Let’s address these deeper:
Mobile Strategy Development
Prior to considering any aspect of the mobile app itself, developing a good mobile strategy should be the first order of business. Your mobile channel is a new channel into your existing business. It is important to consider it in that way. This begins with clearly defining the enterprise goals and business objectives as well as understanding the profiles of the mobile users who can help to meet these goals. This requires careful consideration to how each level of user will interact with this new channel. This should result in the creation of a business requirements document (BRD), a technical requirements document, app maps, user flow charts, UX optimization, and finally, wireframes. This kind of depth of planning will help to form the foundation for the most elegant mobile experience leveraging all that the mobile device and mobile OS’ features have to offer. In addition, this gives you (and your app developer) a blueprint for your app or mobile-optimized site and a means to create your business case, expected investment, and a path to a positive ROI. Once an enterprise mobile channel strategy has been given the green light, an enterprise will have a road map to help address all user constituents including vendors, partners, and of course your customers.
Cloud and Wireless Infrastructure Considerations
Mobile infrastructure is another critical component for a successful long-term enterprise mobile channel. Implementing this infrastructure is challenging, as it involves the integration of the right wireless and cloud technologies. That simply means that if your mobile channel is effectively implemented and highly leveraged by your user constituents (your ultimate objective), you’d better have high availability to your cloud servers. As mobile begins to take hold in enterprises within industries not known for their technological innovations including healthcare, real estate, insurance, and others, the user community may not have a high tolerance for any points of failure, particularly less technologically savvy users. The cloud servers and reliable wireless connections (for employees) must always deliver whenever and where ever your users are.
Mobile device management and Support
If an organization is creating a mobile channel for employees, its infrastructure must meet a variety of new needs that are specific to mobile, including new IT processes for procuring, imaging, managing, and supporting your mobile devices and software. This will assist in minimizing downtime and loss of productivity. Creating a seamless process for remote employees (in particular) to get themselves up and running is key to helping to ensure that your existing IT infrastructure is not overwhelmed by a volume of new users, most of which will still require desktop support and many who will want to use their existing personal mobile device. What happens when any of your employees walk into a public wireless network, adds new personal apps to their device, can’t get into key corporate assets, or has their mobile device lost or stolen? You must have answers to all of these requirements and more before a single app is launched.
Network and Device Security
While the implementation of a good Enterprise mobile channel will improve a company’s efficiency and make it more competitive, it also increases security risks. IT departments must be ready to address new threats and dangers that come with the provision of mobile apps to both consumers and employees. With an ever-increasing workforce not leaving their home offices, you must consider the security implications of not being able to specify the wireless networks they are allowed to reach your corporate network through. You just have to support all scenarios with the same level of network security as you have within the 4 walls of your offices. Further, when one of your employees’ devices going missing or stolen, you need to make sure that you can recover it or simply wipe that device remotely.
No industry is immune to the rise of mobile, and both Businesses to Business and Business to Consumer enterprises are quickly moving to meet the rising demands of an increasingly mobile market. To do so effectively, the challenges and needs listed above must be addressed. Before deciding on the creation of a mobile app, understanding the infrastructure needed to support it is critical.