Your existing platforms may not perfectly fit your current business model or meet your employee needs ideally – but the cost of replacement and risk involved is often prohibitive. A regulated maintenance cycle gives your organization a chance to rapidly improve software while holistically re-evaluating how your legacy software fits into your future business plans.
We used a proven Risk Reduction Plan (RRP) that allows our IT Strategy and Implementation teams to come aboard and immediately work with your business to 1.) gain an intimate knowledge of the technology landscape & 2.) rapidly improve the way you interact with your software. Our RRP specializes in IT handovers, so that a change in technology vendor doesn’t result in a break in business continuity.
Understand the existing users and use cases the application currently covers.
Develop deep technical knowledge on the software systems in question.
Rapidly develop changes to make short-term improvements to the application.
Synthesize medium-term plans of action to upgrade major features.
Evaluate the long-term TCO of the application against re-platformation.
In today's technology-driven world, designing a friendly user-interface (UI) is one of the most challenging jobs. Even veteran website designers are having issues acclimating to mobile. Unless a UI satisfies the users' expectations, an application will have little value for on-the-go mobile users. It might include all the necessary functions and features, but users must be comfortable with an intuitive UI.
Every business user has a different approach for a preferred UI for enterprise tools. The focus should be on meeting their business expectations while attending to their own tastes and preferences.
Emulating trendy design styles won’t help. Focusing on the user is the only way to create an interface that sticks. Strong communication channels between the development team and potential users, end-user documentation, and effective feedback systems are central to optimizing user adoption.
So let's take a look at the processes that lead to an effective UI and a great end-user experience for enterprise applications.
Consistent iteration of UI should also be kept into consideration. Location of buttons in UI, color schemes and wordings in message labels should be experimented with throughout the application. The more intuitive the interface is, the easier it is to use.
And the best way to identify if a UI is intuitive or not is to continually receive feedback and apply the insight. This lowers down training and support costs by developing an application that melds with their existing preferences.
A successful enterprise application rests with identifying and incorporating the needs of users. When introducing a new application, there is a serious chance of disrupting processes and taking away from the productivity and efficiency gains. Constant communication with intended users is the only way to ensure an app will meld with their existing workflows.
IT teams must commit to consistent feedback and iteration sessions. They should establish a deep understanding of the preferred software systems used by employees. The more you constantly communicate with them, the more insight a team will have of their needs.
Inquiries related to their preferred device types and favorite apps will provide great insight into their ideal UI. These proactive strategies serve to build an application that aligns with user requirements. While developers focus on technical aspects of the application, designers need to emphasize usability.
An effective road-map should be created and followed strictly so that both teams work together to achieve business objectives.
Initial training sessions should be organized for end users to attain their maximum comfort level. Without someone dedicated to helping users with UI related issues, they will likely ignore the application.
Well-prepared training materials and end-user documentation should also be delivered. These materials contain technical as well as interface-related information and serves to support users at some later stage. For long term user adoption, these documents are essential for answering potential issues down the road.
Technically-sound support systems also help in gaining the confidence of end-users. Support should be provided during the roll-out phase. Interacting more with the user will result in a seamless launch and higher usability of the app.
UI plays a significant role in making or breaking an application. Although the business functionality is important, the way an application provides it to users is just as important. No matter if your app is technically excellent, if your users don't like it they won't use it, and ROI will not be achieved.
To build an effective application, don’t underestimate the value of UI design and its usability. Focus on them from start and you will deliver a user-friendly app with a user experience that leads to greater productivity.
Even the greatest app idea is useless without an effective road-map for development. While full-time developers and designers may be outside a founder or entrepreneurs budget, there are other options. Outsourcing application development to a third-party consulting firm or a freelancer is an economical and effective means for building a go-to market application quickly.
Below please find a list of the top ways to manage outsourced development that results in a quality applications:
Few successful applications are developed without a cross-collaboration between business leaders and technical experts. Without a unified vision of the back-end engineering's impact on the front-end experience, an app can quickly veer off track.
Developers should consider the end-user experience. And designers should understand how to present features in an intuitive way. Collaboration is key to an end product that looks great on the outside and functions smoothly internally.
Prior to deciding on a final choice for a development partner, your team should list pertinent requirements that are crucial to the app. With those basic necessary requirements defined, the quote provided by a development partner will be much more precise.
Once a project is formulated, both teams should segment the process into phases. Devote time to wire-framing, design iterations, and user acceptance testing (UAT) towards the end. With a well-defined road-map for achieving business requirements in place, projects are less likely to fall off the rails.
Setting deadlines and envisioning a clearly defined scope is crucial for launching a product on time. Timelines are also crucial for ensuring that processes were followed accordingly. Once a set deadline is chosen, application development teams and internal leadership can plan for iterations, feedback discussions, and other proactive means to refine the app.
One of the biggest drivers of budget overruns stems from missed timelines. By setting feasible yet stringent deadlines for each phase of a project, development teams are given specified guidelines and business leaders can plan accordingly for launch dates, marketing, and eventual updates down the road.
Business leadership should invest their time into providing feedback and assessing progress, even if they lack any technical knowledge. While application developers may see the logic in a certain design or feature implementation, the impact on business processes will not be clearly understood.
Championing buy-in from leadership and incorporating their feedback and insight into the development process is critical. The more time that leadership invests in communicating with the outsourced team, the less likely a project is to move ahead blindly.
Although outsourcing is an impactful means for building an application, there are caveats to managing outsourced app development. Be sure that the firm in question adequately understands the vision and strategy behind the app. By investing upfront in thorough communication and strategy, the development process will roll out smoothly.
Business users have high expectations when it comes to enterprise software applications. They're spending hours every week on their high-end smartphones like the iPhone 5S and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Each of those devices boast fluid applications that are miles ahead of the majority of enterprise applications out there.
Analysts and industry thought leaders refer to this trend as ‘The Consumerization of IT', where consumer technology is driving new standards in enterprise technology. Blackberry, once the darling of the enterprise, is close to going under while Apple devices like the iPad and iPhone are becoming crucial tools for business users.
Even more important than the hardware used in the enterprise are the software applications used to augment processes and drive efficiency. Businesses hoping to invigorate the enterprise software powering their operations, should attend to key areas in order to develop applications that are actually used by employees.
Gartner stated that enterprise software spending will grow by 6.8% to $320 billion in 2014. With such a drive to revitalize applications for business users, there will undoubtedly be some failed implementations. But by keeping the following trends in mind, companies can ensure the success and productivity gains associated with well-designed enterprise software.
One of the most successful enterprise software companies in recent years is Workday, a company specializing in Human Resources applications, that look and feel like a consumer app. Their apps are hosted in the cloud and are developed with a strong mobile first strategy. Workday filed a successful IPO last year and was valued at over $9.8 billion. The company serves as a sign of things to come for enterprise software.
Ideally, companies should look to Workday as an example of the ideal approach to enterprise software. Mobile, cloud and intuitively designed user interfaces (UI) are central to their success. Many of these trends originally took off in the consumer space thanks to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, where millions of applications are downloaded and used billions of times a year.
Enterprise software development projects should look to the designers and developers behind some of the world’s most popular apps: Evernote, Facebook, LinkedIn and a myriad of popular To-Do List and scheduling apps. Business users are also consumers of technology, and they carry those experiences into the office whether IT teams like it or not.
Business users require easy to use, consumer friendly applications that accomplish tasks faster than analog processes.
Countless analysts have predicted the rise of a Post-PC era in technology, where a majority of people use smartphones and tablets to access the Internet and compute. While this realization has yet to materialize completely, the trend towards greater mobile web traffic and rising smartphone shipments does substantiate the forecast.
With this trend in mind, companies must approach a customer enterprise software project with a mobile first mindset. Developing with a mobile device and touch screens in mind, can translate directly to corresponding web applications. When you develop in HTML5 for instance, the web application can be hosted in the cloud and accessed by any laptop, smartphone or tablet, with no need to download.
Over 25% of web traffic now stems from mobile devices and this global trend serves to highlight the growing needs of business users. Business users are interacting with their smartphones for hours a day and as a result the average person is much more tech-savvy than in previous years. With people expecting flawless software experiences up-to-par with their consumer apps, enterprises must prioritize mobile experiences as well.
Thanks in part to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, web development teams have begun to build web applications that are hosted in the cloud and accessible from almost any device type. Using HTML5, enterprises can create everything from customer relationship management (CRM) apps to light-weight apps for requesting time off and vacation days. Not only are these types of enterprise apps accessible from any device, they are also light-weight and come with offline capabilities.
Although we like to think that the entire world is connected at all times from any location, the fact is that there are multiple scenarios where a business person can lose signal. To avoid complications, companies can develop web applications that also allow for offline storage of reports. Not worrying about access to data is crucial for created simplified apps that deliver. Some apps are even designed to periodically store the latest reports and data insights every three hours to avoid any lack of access.
When a company develops a cloud based web application, the data stemming from that app can also be saved to a cloud drive (like Microsoft One Drive, Dropbox, or Google Drive). Resting in the cloud, such enterprise web applications can avoid placing heavy data loads on a mobile device. In addition, the important business data needed for operations can be accessible even if an employee leaves their laptop at home.
Business users will desire enterprise software tools that live up to the consumer apps they use every day. With these tips in mind, businesses can excel at developing custom enterprise applications that optimize processes and increase engagement from employees.
For 11 consecutive quarters the U.S. eCommerce industry has continued to experience double-digit growth. And much of that success is thanks to mobile.
Despite dominating players such as Amazon, Ebay, and Walmart, the growth has benefited small and midsize brands alike. Mobile ubiquity and billions of social media users have offered a new means to market, engage, and conduct transactions with a brand.
Ecommerce brands have experienced a resurgence of sorts thanks to the opportunity presented by mobile shoppers. Tablets and smartphones for instance are responsible for close to 10% of all eCommerce sales. It breaks down to 3.5% of total sales stemming from tablets and 6.5% from smartphones. Interestingly enough, tablet owners are likely to spend more per purchase than comparable smartphone users.
Now that 90% of US adults own a cellphone and more than half own a tablet or smartphone, eCommerce brands need to attend to the mobile space to garner increased sales. Expected to total $25 billion by the end of 2013, mobile eCommerce (or mCommerce) is here to stay.
In order to take full advantage of the new shopping medium, here are some critical tips and figures to help construct a viable mobile eCommerce presence.
Apple's App Store alone has given birth to 900,000 mobile applications that have been collectively downloaded more than 50 billion times. Mobile is no longer a possibility. It’s here to stay.
And with a majority of adults in the US owning a smartphone or tablet, mobile eCommerce is not another hollowed buzzword. In fact Gartner recently reported that "more people have access to mobile devices than fresh drinking water and electricity". As an eCommerce brand pursuing expansion it is critical at this point in time to attack mobile.
Some options for tactics include mobile marketing, a native application, or a mobile optimized website. There are countless means to attract mobile shoppers. Even SMS promotional campaigns bring about legitimate results for brands in 2013. Yet when it comes to the quality and engagement of mobile eCommerce strategies consumers are as discerning as ever.
Consumers have downloaded more than 3 billion applications every month for the past year. Never before has the average person interacted with software and technology at such a dazzling rate. Today’s shoppers literally spend hours every day with some of the most innovative technology in decades.
Although this creates a new potential channel for brands, a technologically literate populace is in a position to be especially critical of software and web experiences directed at them. For instance when it comes to websites the average visitor will leave a site for good if load times exceed four seconds.
For which ever route a brand pursues, it is advised to avoid undermining the importance of designing and developing with customer needs, expectation, and attitudes in mind.
An important trend to acknowledge is that tablet users are the heavy hitters when it comes to mobile eCommerce purchases. ComScore recently reported that tablet owners spend 20% more on average than smartphone users. Smartphones are certainly a driver of mobile sales, but the device is often used for research prior to purchases given its limited screen real-estate and portability.
Designing application and websites optimized specifically for the tablet as well as the smartphone is highly suggested. Tablets have larger screen real estate to make mobile shopping much more convenient. Larger buttons, detailed images, and faster load times help prime the device for mobile transactions.
Aside from aesthetics, understanding the nature of customers on different devices can help with precise offers. Orbitz implemented a strategy to target Mac users with specified and more luxurious offers as compared to PC users. This decision was made after analysis of demographic and device data. Mac owning households averaged a combined income of $98,560 while Windows households pulled in $74,452.
The same pricing and offer strategy can be executed with a mobile eCommerce site or application. Every computer or smartphone has a Unique Device Identifier (UDID) which can be used to 'identify' which brand and OS is running. This information can then be used to specifically tailor offers or digital experiences as mentioned.
Today's shoppers are spoiled with incredible web experiences. They expect eCommerce websites and mobile apps to hold up to the quality and craftsmanship of Twitter, Facebook, and Google products.
Take cues from some of the leading web properties across the globe. Focus on large high quality HD images rather than tiny thumbnails. Spend time on creative product details. And of course, ensure seamless navigation and quick load times.
Shoppers have become increasingly privy to superb technological interactions. Emerging technical and maintenance issues for websites and applications can have a tremendous negative impact on sales. For large brands, one hour of website downtime results in $500,000 worth of lost sales.
To prevent traffic issues, make sure to contact the web hosting company in charge of the brand's main site. Taking a proactive stance to the technical capacity of a mobile site or application can prevent lost sales opportunities.
Mobile has played a substantial role in a wide variety of economic sectors across the globe. Education, corporate communications, entertainment and even healthcare have ridden the mobile wave towards higher efficiency, increased communication, and greater revenues. By optimizing an eCommerce operation to embrace mobile as a legitimate channel, brands can substantially drive revenues and expand their customer base.