Mobile working is one of the key trends in the development of business software. In recent years companies have become really dependent on mobile technology to do business. In our daily lives, we arrange increasingly more things by using our smartphone or tablet. Paying bills, booking a holiday, ordering shopping, keeping up to date with the news (via social media), watching films, playing games. Primarily the user-friendliness and processing power of IT has grown exponentially, thereby changing our concept of an acceptable IT experience. This has also had an effect on our expectations of IT at work.
With the new way of working and the blurring of the lines between work and private life, the demand for user-friendly business applications is high. However, what do you do if applications are not usable on your desktop and your mobile? Or if they are, but that their use does not connect seamlessly? We saw the demand for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) grow. Companies that facilitated this were subsequently faced with a security risk. Their approach was usually not standardised, not manageable and certainly not secure. They were not able to tackle the security issues BYOD presented. The result: a fragmented IT environment in which employees use their own favourite apps to do their work, with all its consequences. But what is the right alternative?
Step 1: business software with mobile appsNow that millennials are becoming an increasingly larger part of the working population and because people are searching for an optimal work/private life balance, the need to be able to work anywhere and at any time is growing. This sends a key signal to manufacturers of business software.
Many companies identified opportunities. They invested in ERP and project management tools, which allow employees to work on the move. The benefit: more up-to-date information and a more secure way of handling data. The new way of working proved to be a win-win situation.
In addition, from the users’ point of view, access to core processes through mobile apps was a revelation. Many apps use the newest UX principles and are optimised for the most used functionality of specific (job) groups. For example, for the consultant who still needs to quickly access customer data and project information on the move, or needs to track their time after a work visit. Or for the service engineer who wants to register stocks of materials and record their work hours. A relief for employees who have more time for their actual work due to the apps.
However, as an employee, when you returned to your desktop or laptop the experience was significantly less good. The ‘normal’ interfaces did not look as nice or organise the features and options as efficiently as the mobile version. The simplicity and benefits of the mobile app were conspicuous by their absence on the PC.
Step 2: one single user experience on all devicesThe ‘connected’ organisation already has its roots deeply anchored in the corporate world. However, facilitating mobile working is not enough. The focus for business software in 2017 must be on the integration of all devices and a seamless user experience.
Take Microsoft. The reality is that Windows is the most common operating system for business use. That is why they took up the challenge and went to work on one single solution for Windows desktop users. With Windows 10 they succeeded in offering one single operating system for all devices - tablet, smartphone and PC. The business software app on the platform offers users an identical experience on each device. Apps can be found on the Windows desktop in exactly the same format as on your telephone or tablet.
The new Microsoft operating system also offers interesting extras for both developers and users of business applications. Windows 10 operates on Microsoft's Surface Hub, which allows optimal collaboration. HoloLens, which combines VR and AR technologies, is perhaps even more impressive. It remains to be seen what the developers of business software will do with AR, but very interesting pilots will undoubtedly get started in the short term.
Regardless, an identical user experience across all devices for a connected organisation is a meaningful step to increased oversight, convenience and speed.