Before the world exploded into mobility, the center of the enterprise universe was only seen as the data center. High-end systems would “serve up” applications and data, and all IT employees enjoyed the benefits of a global standard.
June 2009 marked the beginning of the age of smartphones for the enterprise with the introduction of the Apple iPhone 3GS. This device included data encryption for the Exchange email gateway ActiveSync.
Little did IT employees know that this was going to be the end of the standards they enjoyed and the beginning of the mobile revolution in the enterprise.
From that point through 2013, IT shops were in a race to control the device. The flood of devices into the enterprise quickly made them ”enemy number one” among IT chiefs. There was a struggle to completely control the device, what it could do and when it was allowed to.
Now in 2014, things have changed again. The devices have had their time in the spotlight. With new devices being released on quarterly cycles, the mobile application has now become the mobile employees best tool to be successful in their markets.
By 2016, Gartner has predicted there will be 310 billion downloaded applications reaching $74 billion in revenue. With this center focus on the mobile user, applications have moved up in the scale of importance. They are now expected to manage the daily activities and data that are required to run our lives on a day to day basis.
For a moment, let’s take a step back and look again at your app strategy. You have lined up all your developers. You know what you want to create. And your application details are all set. So you are all ready to start blasting out apps right?
In most cases, you need to stop and look at the rest of the enterprise. Your network is the lifeline that moves data around and makes it available.
Have you reviewed the impact of this new application on your network traffic? Do you know where to start?
Here are some suggestions for network management:
- Manage Policies – Do you need to control when and where users access your data? Policies such as Geo-fencing can control these settings by creating a distance from a single point or time before applications/data are removed from the device automatically.
- Regulate bandwidth and shape traffic – This is one of those activities that are either not understood or not really used at all. The idea here is to force traffic from mobile devices from source to destination in the most efficient path possible, as well as throttle bandwidth available depending on the connection used such as 4G and Wi-Fi.
- Understood connections being used. Wi-Fi has quickly become the connection of choice for all devices from laptops, tablets and smartphones. The hard-wired connections on the desk have taken more of a secondary support role. Understanding who and what is connecting via Wi-Fi will help you upgrade your connections so they are not flooded with all the traffic that will be introduced.
Now that your internal connections have been reviewed, we can jump into the five key phases of creating a successful managed application deployment.
While deciding to create a mobile app is easy, developing a high quality app that will be desired by users is hard work. The mobile analytics company Adeven reports that two-thirds of apps in the Apple store are never downloaded. Ironically, these are also known as Zombie Apps that hold no status in the app store.
These five phases are extremely important to understand in developing a successful app. They have become standard when you are in the early stages of mobility planning.
- Strategy Why are we doing this? Is there a problem you are trying to solve? Is this going to drive traffic to your site or act as an enhancement to your smartphone? These questions are important to understand when looking into your app strategy. This will also drive what the user interface (UI) of your app will look like.
- Design Focus on the user experience; the interface, functions, how data is used within, etc. How many times have you downloaded an app and used it then deleted it or moved it to secondary screens never to be used again because it was boring or difficult to use. Take your time. Study the other apps that are out there already and similar to yours. Read the feedback notes to get an idea how they are doing. You don’t want to fail in the same places.
- Development How will this application be developed? Does it need to run on a specific platform or cross-platform? Which set of tools will help with this development? Native apps tend to be much faster since they are written for a specific platform and can interact with and take advantage of operating system features and other software on the platform.. HTLM5 can provide a great option when writing a single app that will be used cross-platforms. These are considered web based applications and offer great control over different OS platforms as well as screen sizes. However, HTML5 is still considered as “in progress” in most developer platforms so it should be reviewed carefully.
- Marketing With over 2 million apps in the market, how do you expect yours to stand out? One of the greatest factors in marketing is making sure that users know the app exists, like it, and share it with friends.
- Maintenance and Management This is the trick of keeping users engaged. Review all the feedback and take it to heart. They are taking the time to give you ideas that will keep them around. Make sure you are also updating the app notes. New users will peruse this information to see if your app is worth their time. They are looking at function, what does the app do that is better than others. Security: They want to know what and how your app collects information and how it is shared. Speed: A slow app will die quickly. Stability: Do people complain about crashing? Maintenance: Have you updated your upgrade notes to address any questions and issues?
Mobile apps are changing the way we interact with our technology. And the market for mobile apps continues to grow at a rapid pace. It is an exciting time to be a developer and even better to be an end user gaining the benefits of this ability.
The key to a successful application rollout will mirror the strategy from your devices. Keep your governance tight around upgrades and continue to review new capabilities to add to your solutions.