More mobile apps = greater choice or greater confusion?

According to a 2014 report by Nielsen the average number of apps used per month is over 30 on our personal smartphones alone. There is evidence that this behaviour is creeping into the enterprise, so does this result in greater choice or confusion? And, how can the enterprise take a pragmatic approach to providing secure mobile productivity on their own terms?

Apps, Apps, Everywhere

On November 2nd Microsoft released its new Slack-esce Teams enterprise social communications tool into preview and after checking it out on my desktop I found myself searching the App Store to try out the mobile version. It was then that I discovered that there are over 20 apps related to the Office and Office 365 ecosystem, published by Microsoft alone: 

By the time you add in apps for the plethora of line of business and cloud applications that a modern enterprise uses to run its business, we are looking at a significant amount of apps to understand and manage. The training and change management requirements alone are staggering. Sure, an inquisitive and technically competent user can download and figure out how to use them, but is that a viable, practical and desired approach for an enterprise organization with limited resources?  

Trends are changing and, although security concerns remain paramount, most organizations are slowly opening up to greater mobile working and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Gartner predicts by 2017, half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes. So how can the enterprise adapt and respond to the challenges this will present? 

Granted many of the apps highlighted, such as those from the Office suite, are essential for individual productivity but others are good candidates for integrating into a better experience that is customized for an organization's essential needs. The ideal scenario is that a new employee joining an organization would only need to download a handful of apps to get their job done, so what options exist to do more, with less? Less training, less support, less confusion and a central hub that meets both informational and productivity needs.  

One App to Rule them All? 

The obvious answer to this app conundrum is customization. Given the right budget and timelines, any enterprise organization can engage a mobile app developer and create a unique experience. In practice few organizations have the means or will to take this path given the effort and costs involved (both upfront in development and on-going in support). Another option is to use a generic app, such as the Microsoft SharePoint app. Although it comes in one flavor and have limited options for tweaks, you can add links to your unique content and it can provide options to make the app more useful. 

Finally, there is the mythical unicorn option that delivers the best of both worlds. On the one hand a generic app that provides all the basic features in a single experience without the need to design, develop and maintain the app. On the other, the ability to extend the user experience by customizing the branding, layout and integrations. An example of a hybrid app is the Unily app that is included as part of an intranet as a service solution. Unily delivers a full-featured mobile experience using both responsive design and native apps for iOS, Android and Windows.  

The table below compares a number of mobile features and attributes across the three potential options: 

* Indicates potential additional effort and costs 

In summary; custom apps can do anything but don’t come easy or cheap. Generic apps offer some extensibility and are easy, simple and can even be free. Finally, a hybrid app can offer the best of both worlds simply and cost effectively.

Unily Mobile Apps 

In a mobile-first world, your users need to be connected wherever they are, via the devices they choose. A Unily intranet delivers hugely powerful experiences through native mobile apps and responsive design. One tap takes users into a Unily intranet via their device and with an easy to use, exceptionally designed user experience, all types of content are quickly found and easily consumed - whether it's your crucial documents, workspaces or essential internal communications.  

No longer do your remote users have to suffer from lack of functionality simply because they don’t have access to a desktop. Data is optimized for the app experience to eliminate wait times and speed the process of getting to what a user needs. Pass-through authentication means that grabbing a quick update when on the go is easy for your employees. Completely branded to match your guidelines and desktop site, the Unily app is an extension of your organization in every pocket.  

Unily intranets bring together the functionality of different elements of the Microsoft technology stack in a more integrated and efficient way. Unily native intranet apps are already in their third generation, delivering on Unily’s revolutionary and evolutionary approach to the modern intranet’s lifespan. We believe that if you get the right intranet, it should grow and evolve with you, not simply come to the end of its life and need be replaced. All Unily users benefit from the continually evolving platform, including updated, enhanced intranet apps as part of the Unily success promise. So don't worry about mobile OS or devices changes, embrace them.

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