Four critical success factors for enterprise mobile app design

I have just finished writing a new report, called Designing Mobile Apps: A Roadmap for Businesses, which will be available from Ark Group very soon. The focus of this report is on designing mobile apps for employees and business partners (rather than for consumers or marketing purposes).

One of the key issues that the report addresses is the situated nature of mobile computing – beyond the obvious differences such as screen size, this means that designing mobile apps is different from designing tools that will be used only on a desktop computer. If you are particularly interested in design aspects, Rachel Hinman’s presentation is a great introduction to why mobile is different.

This diagram is one of many we included in the report and provides a summary of the four critical success factors for enterprise mobile app design:

The four success factors that the mobile app design needs to get right are:

  • Collaboration – The app must allow the user to be connected to other people and the systems that support the work process or practice.
  • User control and personalisation – The user must have ownership and autonomy over how they use the app.
  • Relevance – The functionality of the app must be relevant to the work process or practice at the times and places of use.
  • Time and place – As time and place of use is negotiated by the user, the app must be beneficial to both the user and the business.

Get the balance wrong between these factors and you reduce the chance of your enterprise mobile app being successful (something I explored in this CMSwire article).

Background to the model

We brainstormed different ideas and concepts for understanding the situated nature of mobile apps in the enterprise, but rather than simply make something up we decided to base our model on this academic research paper on mobile learning. This very much reflects our cross-disciplinary approach to “mobile, social, cloud” and we have adjusted the model to be more broadly applicable in an organisational context, based on our own observations.

The visualisation itself includes some deliberate elements:

  • It represents the different physicals environments where workers use mobile apps – in the office, at home, outside and when they are travelling.
  • Its not just about the app is situated in relation to the individual user, but how it is situated with other users too (see the “Collaboration” critical success factor).

I also published a draft of a more complex view of the situated nature of enterprise mobile apps on my personal blog, which we also included in the report. We will be sharing more of these diagrams, also under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license, in coming weeks.

The diagram above is also available for download from SlideShare.

UPDATEPre-order your copy of the report from Ark Group by the 6th July for just AU$324.50 inclusive of GST, plus AU$15 postage and handling.