Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Creating a seamless tablet experience in companies

By Alex Hall

According to a recent study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin, a 10 percent increase in the usability of data will lead to a $2.1billion increase in total revenue every year, a 10 percent increase in the mobility of data will lead to a 7.28 percent increase in asset utilization and a 10 percent increase in intelligence of business data will lead to an 18.5 percent increase in planning and forecasting accuracy.

The research has demonstrated the positive effect on productivity and revenue from equipping staff with mobile access to enterprise data. In this article, I would like to further discuss the challenges that chief information officers and chief technology officers face and how to build an effective personal technology strategy in enterprise.

Challenges limiting personal tech within organizations
While we more commonly recognize that a tablet allows employees to perform more tasks while away from their desks, we have some way to go in understanding how an employee’s use of a tablet differs from her use of a PC. We do know, however, that software experiences for tablets need to be customized to be effective.

Although Apple continues to effectively evangelize the perfect experience for consumers and business, it is ultimately up to the CIOs and CTOs to unlock the power of personal technology for their business. And it does not have to be complicated or expensive to test the value of tablets or applications.

While the enterprise mobility opportunity could be very significant in terms of business profitability, turning market research into real profit will require businesses to solve a few challenges.

The first step is around the data. Which data, when mobilized, will increase decision-making speed?Which data is likely to be captured more accurately on a mobile device, as a result of location or time?

The next challenge is around implementation.

What are the business problems that mobilization will address? How do you cost effectively trial the experience? How do you then drive this behavioral transformation throughout the rest of an organization? Can my organization learn from anyone doing it well?

Smartphones inform remotely, tablets enable action
Employers universally strive to increase employee productivity. Google succeeds here by offering on site perks, accessible at all times, and by allowing staff to work on personal projects for 20 percent of their week.

Happy employees are more effective and probably spend at least an extra 20 percent of their scheduled week on site because the facilities are so great.

Businesses other than Google can increase productivity by making day-to-day tasks easy to do when their employees are away from their desks – while traveling to work or meetings, or when in meetings.

Behavioral analysis suggests this can be done most effectively via a tablet.

A tablet’s portability and ease of use allows an employee to use it in short, productive bursts.

Conversely, from a behavioral standpoint, smartphones allow for consumption of information and limited responses, and laptops psychologically require a longer period of time to warrant the set up process.

Changing behavior at work
It used to be the case that expensive enterprise software was mandated throughout an organization, often causing immense disruption and reducing employee productivity through limited usability.

With cloud computing and the power of personal technology, cost and disruption can be reduced.

However, no matter what the solution, employees have to support the software they will be using.

Engaging your employees in the design and deployment of your applications will prioritize the most pressing business problems, thereby expediting product launches and saving money.

If the intended users of your software are not early adopters of technology, make sure you spend as much time with them as you do with the early adopters. Creating something that 100 percent of the workforce enjoys using is far more important than creating something that only 10 percent thinks is cool.

The CIO/CTO who is an advocate of personal technology will understand this already. The CIO/CTO who is not must at least acknowledge the shift and cash in on it.

If 90 percent of a business’ employees spend all their spare time on a smartphone, find a way for them to switch seamlessly from social to work activities on those devices. You will make it easier for them to give you five-minute chunks of productivity more often.

Applies to life and apps
If apps are well designed, they can make life significantly easier for the user.

Even though the tablet is only two to three years old, it already feels like there is an app for “that,” whatever “that” happens to be.

Most tasks can be performed on a tablet, and work tasks that previously only existed on a desktop can often be made compatible with tablets.

However, the difference between simply making that task doable on a tablet and making it an easy and fun experience is significant to a business’ productivity and profit.

Think about everyday human behavior. We have the opportunity to do many, many things in life, but most of us are generally inclined to take the easy option. This is because it requires less thought or effort.

Those who persevere with difficult experiences only do so if the reward is great enough or there is the visualization of an objective. This is understandable when climbing Mount Everest, or if you get a cash prize for completing a specific task.

In the context of the workplace, though, where every employee has to use a variety of software tools, but where their motivations for being in the office often differ hugely, software has to be an enabler, rather than an excuse or a deterrent.

TO CONCLUDE, to embrace the benefits of enterprise apps, it involves a strategy that maximizes the strengths of devices and employees’ newfound mobility.

Alex Hall is president of the Americas for Tigerspike Inc., New York. Reach him at [email protected].