Evaluating Mobile Application Opportunities
Not every application makes sense as a mobile application. When you evaluate an enterprise mobile application opportunity, be sure that the application makes sense in a mobile context. Time and location are the two main criteria. A valuable mobile application will be one that enables people to do their jobs more effectively because it puts information in their hands at the right time and in the most effective place. For example, access to inventory data may be invaluable to a salesperson when taking orders at a client's site. In this example, time is critical because inventory can change rapidly, and location is important because a salesperson may be at her desk or may be in the field at a client's workplace. An application that may not make much sense as a mobile app would be access to human resource policies and procedures. Although it might be convenient to be able to look up long-term disability benefits while on the go, these procedures probably do not change very quickly, so accessing them on the move does not have an obvious benefit.
When looking at mobile opportunities, you should keep in mind that a useful application will satisfy a genuine need, not just provide convenience. To evaluate whether an application satisfies a need, ask the following questions:
Does it make money or save money?
Does it make an existing process more efficient (or less painful!)?
Does it improve productivity by allowing mobile workers to complete more work in a given time? Effective automation of mobile workflows can increase productivity by 20 to 30 percent.
In addition to improving efficiency, genuinely useful mobile applications can open up new opportunities. For example, if a salesperson has mobile access to cross-listed product information and inventory data, it may be possible to sell additional products to a client (cross-selling or up-selling). Mobile, real-time access to competitive pricing data could be used to clinch a deal, convincing a prospective client to switch to your brand of widget or service. Mobile applications can also improve the decision-making process by placing time-critical knowledge in the hands of a mobile decision maker.