With all of the new techniques, tooling, operating systems and devices that keep updating at a rapid pace, developers need to stay on their toes if they want to keep up with the competition and pace of agile. In order to help developers create the next wave of mobile apps, Motus, a cloud-based mobile enterprise platform, declared three critical keys to developing enterprise app, which companies can consider if they want to cater to their users’ needs.
Motus is a vehicle-management and reimbursement platform, responsible for creating and launching its Motus app. Motus sits at the intersection of two primary types of mobile workers, according to Mike Addesa, Motus’ vice president of mobile applications. These include travellers or those who fly for their job, as well as mobile workers driving speciality vehicles for work, like cargo vans or delivery trucks. Motus’ app sits in the middle, focusing on mobile workers and helping them receive reimbursement for their travel.
At its core, Motus’ app is intended for mileage capture so employers can verify that their employees are seeking reimbursement for business- related travel. Addesa said that while the company was working on the application, there ran into challenges in building an application that works for both the employer and the mobile worker, especially when there are many iterations of devices, and as the quality of GPS tracking improves.
“The mobile space in general in terms of hardware and software is moving so rapidly, and it really is kind of a major technological arms race,” said Addesa. “You are constantly looking at new techniques, new approaches, new APIs, new methods, to accomplish the same task. Your team has to keep looking at what’s coming next.”
He said these changes aren’t necessarily making the process of developing enterprise apps difficult; it’s just something that always needs to be on teams’ minds. Keeping up with all of the innovations requires some picking and choosing in order to find what is most critical for the business function and what the team is trying to deliver, he said.
Addesa highlighted certain enterprise-specific activities that require more consideration than developers and IT teams might give for building consumer-grade applications. These include:
User interface design: There is clear growth on the mobile front, but organizations need to invest more upfront in user experience design when it comes to enterprise applications. And while developers and IT leaders agree that enterprise applications increase productivity, most of the app experiences lack an “elegant” or pleasant user experience, according to a survey by ArcTouch.
Companies need to find a balance between being functional and appealing, said Addesa, especially because most employees using enterprise-grade applications depend on them for their job. The mobile space is reaching a point where there is real competition, he said, so if developers fail to create a good user experience, they are going to struggle keeping up with the competition.
“You just need to make sure you don’t let the necessity to deliver the functionality completely overshadow the need to deliver a great experience,” said Addesa.
Security: Developers need to think of user-friendly ways to protect enterprise applications and their data. The most important part about security from Addesa’s perspective is that it needs to be thought about from the beginning. Developers should think about designing applications in a way that provides the least exposure possible, which means being thoughtful on what data and services are provided access to through the application, he said. Instead of just building a “fence” around the application, developers should be thoughtful about the design of information and what access is given.
Helping manage usage/battery life: Addesa said that battery life is the one major issues that mobile workers face. Developers need to consider ways to limit the power that an app consumes on a device, he said. And if they understand data, they can decide which forms of data need to be saved immediately. The reason this is important is because if a developer is building an application, they can monitor the state of the wireless data antenna to delay the mobile data and only send data when another application turns it on, said Addesa. This way it can piggyback on another application that uses the wireless data at the time, and eliminate a power drain for users.
These are the tradeoffs that developers need to consider, and understanding the state of the device and understanding the context of the business operation will help teams “make decisions that are most beneficial when it comes to performance versus power consumption,” said Addesa. And once the right features are implemented, he said developers need to maintain the application to see if added features are important to the user, and if the user is utilizing the features the way they are intended, he said.
“What that means is user analytics, and it means continual testing and feedback, and the ability to rapidly release and make changes,” said Addesa.