Use Cases Come First

By Matt Bancroft, President & COO, Mobile Helix — March 14, 2014

For all the progress in mobility, only a small proportion of enterprise activity is mobile-enabled. There are as few areas and tasks where employees can be productive on the move as there are enterprise mobile apps. Plus, these mobile apps often have key functions missing and tend to operate in a siloed manner from each other on the device.

To get the full benefits of mobility, enterprises should be taking a more holistic view and apply it to strategy and the creation of mobile apps.

Why not start with critical business use cases first?

Mobility is both strategic and transformational, but this mindset requires the CIO and business leaders to apply this thinking across all business activities and processes. A useful structure for strategic assessment is to consider three segments of mobilization:

  1. Mobilizing existing enterprise applications
  2. Adding mobile-specific capabilities to existing applications
  3. Creating totally new mobile apps 
For each segment, there needs to be a clearly articulated and agreed up business rationale and business benefits. Within this framework, enterprises need to ensure that deployments are designed and developed appropriately for mobile.

Each enterprise must be crystal clear on the key business processes and tasks that they want to mobilize. Applying a use case focused methodology is a good practice to identify the core business processes that employees use to get a task completed and work done in a mobile context.

Using Use Cases
For each use case, there needs to be a commercial assessment of the impact on productivity or revenue and then a prioritization process. From an agreed set of use cases, it becomes much easier to map the actual functionality required and also the underlying technologies and applications best suited to deliver the functionality desired.

This process ensures that all the functionality required to support a use case is built into the app as the process goes mobile.  For instance, employees often use multiple apps to work. If I want to send a calendar invite with an attachment, this task may transition several apps and functionality from: email, calendar and contacts, to access to file shares while integrating with authentication, single sign on, session management, data loss protection and other security and network capabilities.

This siloed approach can limit employee productivity, won’t effectively support many critical use cases and will lead to a poor mobile user experience because employees will find it cumbersome to execute tasks.
Following a holistic view for mobile strategy that builds upon the business needs is more beneficial. A use case-based methodology ensures key functionality won’t be lost as technology is transitioned and is mobilized for employees.

The user experience must be a priority as well. This includes a clear and intuitive user experience and user journey both within an app and across apps. If a user requires email function, calendar function and access to corporate file share, then the user experience and journey needs to be designed across these apps to support that use case — ideally with seamless transitions.

For enterprise apps, “mobile first” is misleading because many tasks and business processes are not applicable to the mobile environment and mobile devices. However, there are many activities which should be mobilized. Enterprises need to take both a more holistic and strategic view of mobility and then make sure they design and develop appropriately.


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