As has been the case with the broader transformation in software development, so too has come a revolution in enterprise needs and challenges. Client-enterprise interactions have been shifting from desktop to mobile devices, which has undeniably led to an increased need for suitable mobile apps for enterprise.
But, developing well-designed, successful enterprise mobile apps is no easy task. Here, we discuss the changing and challenging needs of enterprises, and how app developers can better cater to them.
Challenge 1: Fragmentation of Devices and Operating Systems
There’s a significant amount of fragmentation of devices and operating systems currently in the marketplace. As an enterprise mobile app developer, your first challenge is choosing between the three most common platforms (iOS, Android and Windows) when making an app for your client… who in turn needs to reach their own clients.
As a developer, you obviously want to come up with an app with configurations and capabilities that are compatible with relevant vendors. On the other hand, you have to keep your client’s needs in mind. Not only do they want to reach their customers with the app, they want to turn a profit in the process… It’s not enough to merely consider the functional compatibility of the app; you also need to know the preferences of your enterprise’s targeted clients.
Challenge 2: Development Technology
Mobile app development is mainly classified into two types:
1) Native app development, and
2) Hybrid app development.
Native apps are purposely built for a specific platform (like Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, Window’s Window Phone or Blackberry). Native apps are generally characterized by a better user experience and superior application performance given they are designed, developed and live within an operating system, as opposed to the web. The primary disadvantage of native apps? You have to develop apps for each platform, which is time consuming and not exactly cost effective.
Hybrid mobile apps are usually developed using HTML5 and can be installed on any mobile device, but they run via a web browser. Hybrid mobile application developments reduce the time to build and market apps across multiple platforms. On the flip side, though, hybrid apps can lag in performance, and you might have to sacrifice some key features.
When choosing the right option for you, consider that the wrong choice may lead to poor app performance, poor user experience and/or needless expenses. That’s why it’s essential to understand the clients’ target audience and their preferred mobile vendors (as well as any third party vendors in the mix). With that, you’ll have a better idea of which development technology to use.
Challenge 3: User interactivity and experience
For obvious reasons, UI/UE are major concerns for mobile app developers. Your first challenge has to do with creating the best possible client experience. But, another concern is the fickleness of clients regarding mobile app functionalities, as well as their constantly changing aesthetic preferences. As an enterprise app developer, another challenge for you is the variability of the different platforms depending on screen sizes, resolutions, and technologies.
Failing to consider any of these may result in an unintuitive and cumbersome client experience, which might further lead to a low adoption in the market. To overcome this challenge, you’ll need to consider the different OS requirements, fix bugs frequently, and use icons and overriding hardware buttons (like “home” or “menu”) to make your app more intuitive. Make your app usable across multiple platforms, and bring in more interactive options such as shaking, tilting and flipping.
Challenge 4: Content management and security
The need for mobile app content is ever-growing and increasingly dynamic. Other than text, there’s demand for images, video, and animation within app content. The challenge comes in bundling all these into monolithic expansion files, which is necessary for some app stores. There are several mobile content management solutions out there, so experiment with a few. Besides content management, the other major concern for enterprise developers is security for such content.
Usually, the ability to access app content comes with immense opportunities for both enterprises and their clients. But the opportunities also bring a fear of information misuse. This is why some enterprises lock their apps with mobile device management solutions, which when wrongly used, lead to poor client experience. On the other hand, employees dislike too much control on company networks and over their own devices.
You can see the problem.
As an enterprise mobile app developer, your app should endeavor to come with proper authentication plans, server-side validation, and encryption of essential data to overcome these security issues. It’s important that your security is flexible, and sufficiently different from one enterprise to another. For instance, the level of security and authentication you need for a banking app is completely different from that for an online display shop.
Challenge 5: Application performance vs battery life
One challenge for enterprise mobile app developers is to ensure the app actually performs well. Other than performance, the app should be bug free and able to operate at minimum battery power. It’s also possible the app might be working well on newer handsets but not so well when used with older versions. Usually, when good performance is not guaranteed with low battery consumption, the clients will download the app but end up deleting it because they want their devices to keep enough charge to use for a full day without charging.
To overcome this, make sure the development team is part of the prototyping efforts. Set up a better version to run test cases with test users to avoid any performance trouble in the final version.