Future of Business Software: Mobile First, Last & In Between

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We’ve been talking about all the various ways that business software applications are going to change. But we haven’t yet covered one of the most obvious ways of all – mobility. Seamless mobility that allows users to seamlessly access or do their work anytime, anywhere and regardless of device.

The rapid evolution and advancement of mobile has ‘literally’ put technology power back into the hands of users. The progress is staggering. Anyone old enough to remember the Newton? The Palm Pilot? These and other early mobile devices promised to put business power in the hands of business users. Ironically, it wasn’t the device so much that pushed business mobility over the top. Rather, it was the seamless connectivity to the cloud that changed everything forever.

Business software hinges on mobility

The way business is conducted today is dramatically different from even just five years ago. Business people are no longer tethered to their desks or their heavy laptops. Business is increasingly conducted on the go, anywhere, anytime, and research has shown time and again that mobile flexibility continues to become a bigger priority for today’s workforce.

The power of mobility is clearly much more than the convenience of smaller, lighter devices. It’s about doing stuff. Business on the go isn’t an effective alternative unless you can be just as efficient and effective away from your desk as you are when you’re at your desk. And this means having access to all of the tools and applications that power your work. Limited application access or limited application functionality results in limited productivity.  

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Mobile has garnered a tremendous amount of attention, investment, focus and hype over the past five years, and rightfully so. I, like many of you, am “always on” when it comes to running a company or performing all aspects of my job and it’s next to impossible to be effective without great mobile business software applications. So why do the companion mobile applications for most prominent business software still under deliver? In my opinion, most businesses still fall short in their mobile app effectiveness because mobile is an after thought. This is the main reason email is still the #1 app in the world for business users.  

That’s all changing. The new generation of business software applications will allow users to work seamlessly across desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and pretty soon watches. When building custom applications, users will be able to immediately grant access to a mobile app with all of the same capabilities, which means all apps will be instantly accessible and usable from mobile devices. Many mobile app versions have been introduced, only for users to find that they’re watered down versions of the software they use, with limited functionality and clunky interfaces. For mobility to truly be effective for business users the applications need to be extremely easy to use (think B2C apps), have a well-designed interface for easy data input and even easier information consumption (reporting and search).

A seamless interface, full capabilities, and ease of use should be basic requirements for all mobile apps. But it doesn’t end there. The term “mobile first” — which is intended to convey that mobility is a primary and not secondary use case — has gained a lot of attention. I like the mentality this term brings to any business, but it doesn’t convey the real shift in business software. The term we should all be using is “user first”. Users want a truly seamless technology/application experience. Users work at their desk, remote on laptops, remote on tablets and everywhere with their phones. Their business software application shouldn’t get in the way. It should enable their desired action or behavior.

Soon, business software will even eliminate specific mobile application development platforms. Any successful business application or platform will allow the user to easily transfer data from legacy applications (Excel for a simple example) and create a native mobile application in minutes enabling users to immediately have control of their mobile experience. This happening now.

Mobility is not a feature, it’s a way of life for all business software.  

Keep tweeting us at @trackvia. Let us know what you think is missing from mobile business applications and how you think the way we work will change with increased mobile capabilities.

 

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