The technology landscape continues to evolve and change the way we communicate, live, and work. Disruption has become the name of the game, and mobile unarguably has been one of the greatest disruptors of all times.
The rapid adoption of mobile in the enterprise has led to the consumerization of enterprise products as well. The expectation from these products is the same as that of consumer-focused applications. As a result, the choppy, clunky, and complex enterprise product experiences are now undergoing a dramatic facelift as the tech-savvy millennials start becoming the face of the workforce.
But how have enterprise products changed in this age of mobile? Let’s take a look:
Design focus in the age of the consumerization of everything
Unlike the Great Depression, the Great Consumerization of enterprise products is something to be celebrated. Technology, by itself, is not enough to ensure adoption, and with the dawn of the mobile age, this writing is more like a graffiti on the wall.
While for the longest time, we had to use enterprise products that were feature-rich and primarily evaluated for raw product functionality, usability was not a focus area. The maddening maze of icons on interfaces was a normal reality. However, with the consumerization of enterprise products – all thanks to the BYOD revolution – enterprise products are now taking a more consumer-centric design approach.
Usability and User experience
Mobiles brought the rise of greater digital experiences. They became the harbinger of change and managed to change businesses more than how the internet did back in the 1990s.
While functionality remained an integral and essential part of enterprise products, it was clear that there was no place for poorly designed, aesthetically challenged, hard-to-use products. With the workforce bringing in as many three personal devices for work, having a strong usability focus was as essential as the utilitarian focus.
Enterprise products with the advent and adoption of mobile had no other option but to mimic the consumer-grade mobile applications. They became easy-to-use and as intuitive, just like consumer applications.
As the maturity of the enterprise product audience grew, we saw the advent of gamification, haptic technology, animation, etc. to elevate UI and UX experiences.
Design rules – you still need to keep it simple
We also have to consider that enterprise products and applications are growing in complexity. Each new release ensures that the functionalities grow. However, adding features on feature with no cohesion make the application more complex and harder to navigate. This eventually becomes the mountain between adoption and productivity.
As consumer-grade mobile experiences become the driver of user expectations, it becomes clear that enterprise products have to balance complexity with fluid and elegant design – reducing the effort that takes to go from point A to point B.
Scaling the security chasm
Flexibility – the one thing that mobile gave us and completely changed the world on its head. It gave us new ways of working and increased opportunities for the enterprise. It also gave the enterprise the nudge that it needed to create bespoke solutions to meet their unique challenges.
But with this great flexibility came the greater concern of security. Enterprise products have to be not only usable and flexible but also highly secure. They need to make sure that confidentiality and data security are not compromised at the altar of the speed of business.
Owing to this, we have seen a heightened focus on security testing, the adoption of security measures such as stronger authentications, and enterprise mobility management (EMM) tools to address security issues, etc.
Enterprise products, in the age of mobile, have become more performance-driven than ever before. The strong performance focus has been primarily because of the rise of the ‘anytime, anywhere’ work culture brought about by mobile.
Ready availability across devices and high performance have become non-negotiable when it comes to enterprise products. To enable this, we have seen a focused shift to leverage technologies such as the cloud so that the product content can be stored in a central server. This also helps to reduce the time taken to make application updates and also thereby reduces application downtime.
The integration conundrum
Mobile also introduced us to a range of consumer applications that used an army of connected apps to help us accomplish our tasks. Traditionally, enterprise apps took a more siloed approach.
Today, however, this landscape has evolved. Enterprise apps are tearing down the walls of these siloed experiences and delivering an environment of an ecosystem of connected applications that support a full range of plug-ins. The enterprise is now offering an ‘App Store’ experience and thereby extending the value and the functionality of their enterprise products.
Conclusion – The rise and rise of the mobile-first enterprise
Mobile is the heart of all things digital now. And enterprises are now becoming digital businesses. There is a pronounced shift in the way work happens in the wake of the anywhere, anytime economy.
Enterprise products are no different. As mobile changes how organizations work, engage with employees and manage their operations, enterprise product development has moved towards a more ‘mobile-first’ approach.
This means, enterprises today are thinking more critically about the mobile experience when designing any enterprise product, website, or any digital means of communication. This means relooking and reconsidering the tools, technologies, and techniques employed to build and deploy enterprise products as well as accommodating desktop computing in a more task-specific and flexible manner.
Enterprise products today, thus, are being developed while keeping the mobile experience in mind. So, we design products for smaller screens first and then add the content and features for bigger screens.
Clearly, amongst other things, mobile has led to the great ‘appification’ of enterprise products – think micro apps that are easy to use along with being single purpose. They are also more value-driven, task-specific, and integrated with the entire enterprise system and truly enable the ‘always available’ enterprise.
After successful 5 years stint in a corporate role, Nitin is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Nitin is postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 19 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.