CBR spoke with Tangoe’s Anne Marie Murray about moving towards bespoke enterprise applications.
Mobile has become so commonplace in our personal lives that there is a temptation in business to treat it in the same relaxed, ad hoc way. A lot of employees will use applications from their personal lives to conduct essential business functions, for example hosting company files on the cloud service Dropbox.
This has often been true when it comes to communications. Much discussion with colleagues within the company takes place via standard applications such as SMS (which after all is the one app that you can guarantee) installed on every handset, or OTT services such as WhatsApp. The attraction of an application such as WhatsApp is its appealing user interface, which provides a group conversation feature that is missing from SMS or Outlook.
A number of companies that advocate using an app that is designed specifically for enterprise communications rather than using a consumer app for enterprise purposes. Anne Marie Murray, Global Product Marketing Manager of Tangoe, argues that enterprises need to use a bespoke enterprise app that employs the user experience of a consumer app while retaining the security and productivity features.
"It’s important that organisations have applications have a way for their employees to stay connected, to be productive and to communicate and collaborate effectively," Murray comments. "Some organisations are doing this today using texting and different instant messaging tools.
"We hear a lot about the consumerisation of IT – providing apps that employees are used to using now in their personal lives."
"There’s so much talk of millennials entering the workplace, but people of all generations in the enterprise now are using social technologies and a lot of different social applications in their personal lives. I think there’s a level of comfort that they feel with enterprise apps that are more consumer-type apps.
"I think that having an enterprise grade app with a consumerised feel with enterprise-grade security is very important for the enterprise."
Essentially, as with most facets of the enterprise mobility phenomenon, it is important to remember that employees’ use of mobile comes from a desire for convenience and comfort. An application that doesn’t appeal to the employees on a level as basic as the user interface will probably continue to be passed over in favour of more enjoyable consumer alternatives.
"Naturally with a lot of the apps that have been developed they have initially been developed for the consumer world," Murray adds. "I think what we call a consumer app is considered consumer just because of the way it was originally developed. I think that it’s about taking all of these amazing different apps that are being developed and bringing them into the enterprise.
"I think a lot of these new apps are very easy to use. There’s a lot of nice flow within the UI and a really good UX experience. Developers are putting a lot of thought into usability and user experience and the way that they flow and fluidity that these applications have."
If the interface appeals to the employees, then the need for a top-down implementation by the IT department disappears. Adoption can be driven organically, as Murray explains using the example of Tangoe’s app InTouch.
"Intouch can be used in small teams and doesn’t need to be adopted enterprise-wide. IT can still know about it and evaluate it."
The responsibility of IT then becomes more of a facilitator; as Murray explains, they can "find the app that is cost-effective, that is secure and provides the employees with everything they want."