Real Mobility—The next generation of business mobile applications

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Image by richardefreeman

By now most people are aware of the smartphone revolution. But we are constantly being asked HOW these new devices can actually be used to deliver a real benefit for business.

It seems strange to us that it is taking so long for the world to catch on to the real possibilities. The signs are all there, but for some reason we are only finding pockets of people starting to realise the potentially massive benefits.

We find that the biggest hurdle is generally in the imagination of the people involved, but we also generally find it requires very little prompting. With only a couple of nudges, most of the people we talk to rapidly get to a level of understanding that is like a cork popping. Suddenly a plethora of opportunities appear and the flood gates open.

We are also yet to find a business that doesn’t benefit in some way from mobility. Why is that? Well, if we boil down the essence of what mobility provides, it is:

  • Immediate access to information
  • Immediate connections to other people
  • Immediate involvement in process and workflow

So, essentially, it provides a way to directly interface processes, information and people to any target individual. This fits just about any role in any organisation; everyone works with a combination of processes, people and/or information every day they turn up to work.

Integration: The key to productivity

We are also currently seeing the “there’s an app for that” phenomenon. This, on the face of it, appears to be a logical conclusion. ie: you would like a to-do list? There’s an app for that. How about a shared note-taking facility, yup! Ok, what about mobile VOIP telephony? Video conferencing? CRM? Workflow? Bug Tracking? … Yup, yup, yup and double yup!

However, we still see this as a fragmented “solution”: Working in the “CRM” app to look up your contacts, then switching to maps to find them, then, once you arrive, you flip between iBooks (for your sales collateral), a forms app (to fill in the application form for the sale), your CRM (to copy the details into your forms app), the web browser (to demonstrate your products), the camera to record a drivers licence ID, and so on… How laborious! Then you need to send the photos from the camera or photos app to Dropbox or via email to your work account, and export the form to pdf and email it, or save it to Dropbox in the same folder, or log in to that app portal to download the completed PDF… Phew!

So how does all this provide a cost saving, a more efficient process, or value to the worker? Well, maybe it does, but not optimally. There is a cost of inconvenience, an overhead that comes along with the benefit, that takes the shine off.

The first generation of mobile applications

If you are “mobile” but with adhoc or partial solutions such as these, then you may get jaded and lose faith in the promise. But don’t feel alone, so many organisations are in the same boat. The truth is, the current generations of products are as juvenile as software written in the first few years after the invention of the Personal Computer. It’s a new platform with people scrambling to understand it’s capabilities.

We coined the phrase “The Appdustrial Revolution” to describe what is about to occur. We are only at the beginning of the new age. Society is going to understand the real possibilities soon and organisations are going to have to adapt and adopt to remain relevant or run the risk of being left behind.

The next generation of mobile applications

Start thinking bigger. Dare to dream! You should not be surprised to learn that the devices we are using now have the capability to deliver what you expect of them. But it’s not until people take these devices seriously and understand that software development takes time and money to get a serious application off the ground, that we will start seeing these “third generation” business applications.

It should be easy to look at your phone in the morning, see your itinerary without even unlocking it, swipe your first appointment to see directions and change the order to accommodate the lunch meeting you have, arrive at your appointment and have your phone tell you who you are meeting (along with their children’s and dogs names), swipe and a new application form appears (pre-populated with the client details), take photos directly on the form, sign with your finger and submit the details as a new application file to kick off the fulfilment process.

The next generation is now

So why did I give this blog the title “Real Mobility”? Well, in our experience, the majority of people who think they are “doing mobility” are not there yet. However, this is all doable RIGHT NOW! And people are starting to catch on.  If you are not thinking at this level and already in discussions with a capable and reputable expert organisation to deliver these solutions for your organisation, you should be preparing to be surpassed because your competitors are most likely already going down this path.

Prepare to ride the wave, or you may well end up getting crushed in the shore break.