The enterprise app market is set to explode with Gartner expecting spending in this area to grow by 7.5 per cent, reaching US$149.9 billion by the end of the year. This figure is set to increasing to US$201 billion by 2019. That doesn’t mean every business-focused app will become a success story as the analyst firm's research also shows organisations are becoming savvier in choosing which apps to adopt. Whether you're an in-house developer or a third-party app maker, it is imperative to know the "dos and don'ts" for creating enterprise apps.
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If you take a look at Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store, you'll notice a plethora of apps that seem pointless or only server a single purposes. Just because you can make an app doesn't mean you should do so with little thought on how it will benefit users. The same principle can be applied to enterprise apps. With the enterprise app market set to grow significantly in the next few years, there will be a wave of developers who want to claim a piece of that pie. So how do you ensure your enterprise app will stand out from the crowd and, above all, bring value to your business users?
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating an enterprise application. While we stressed before that making a single-function application is a no-no, you also don't want to load your app with features that make it confusing for the user.
You can't please everybody. Apperian director of product marketing Stephen Skidmore recommends asking yourself the following questions when you're developing an enterprise app:
- Will the app deliver value to employees?
- Does the app make business processes easier, faster, and more accessible?
- Once the app has been deployed, will employees see the value and become repeat users?
If you're working in an internal development team, it's useful to ask employees what features they want to see on the app that would make their lives easier.
Building an app is one thing, managing it after it has been deployed is another. This is something you should think about during the app development process. Building in management tools that organisations can take advantage of will make a world of different. Tools could be made for rolling out app upgrades across different mobile platforms, app testing and lifecycle management. This could mean more work for you as a developer but it will make your app much more attractive to businesses.
Don't forget the look
Enterprise apps should strive to look and feel like a consumer app. Just because it's being used in a serious business and needs to be practical doesn't mean you have to sacrifice aesthetics. A good-looking app will make the user experience much more pleasant and encourage employees to use it more often.
Integration with the company’s legacy systems
Let's face it, there are plenty of companies out there that still run on legacy systems. It's not something that will change overnight so developers need to consider how their enterprise apps will work with these outdated systems.
Organisations may shun your product because it doesn't integrate with the older systems they have already invested heavily in, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. You may want to think about using an enterprise-grade mobile backend-as-a-service solution with an API infrastructure to overcome the problem as this allows mobile devices to easily access legacy systems.