One of the unique traits around iOS devices used in business and enterprise environments is that users have much higher expectations for mobile tools and processes than they do for traditional PC applications, processes, and user experiences. That’s true whether the device is employee-owned or provided by an employer.
It’s easy to see why most iPhone and iPad users have these higher standards. With iOS, Apple has created a platform that is app-driven and offers an incredible selection of apps to users. Apple, and many iOS developers, have done an amazing job of getting rid of anything that stands between the iOS user and the experience of content that they are watching, reading, or creating. That delivers an immersive experience that is unlike the vast majority business or productivity tools loaded on workplace PCs.
With iOS, Apple has raised the bar of user expectation. In some ways that’s good. It encourages app developers of all types, including business and productivity developers, to strive for a similar user experience. Many business app developers have succeeded in creating tools that deliver such an experience. Many other developers have failed to make the grade in this area.
For developers within a large company, the pressure to create internal iOS apps for employees can be extreme. Trying to recreate existing line of business apps, most of which were designed for Windows PCs, as iPhone and iPad solutions is challenging in itself. Unfortunately, whether it’s an internal app or a public app, most users hold each app they use up against those high standards even if they don’t realize that they’re doing it.
With App Store purchases, users can simply move on and try to find a better alternative. That doesn’t often work if the app is a company’s internal solution It also doesn’t work well it’s a public app pushed to user devices or listed in an enterprise app store. Some users may grumble and continue using the mandated apps, but many will stick to the approach of searching for better alternatives – other apps or workflows involving multiple apps (possibly a combination of internal apps and public apps).
This presents a mobile management conundrum that isn’t easy to resolve. While mobile management tools can prevent users from using alternate apps, heavy-handed management can have convince users that they’re best off working with their own devices and app selections without letting IT or management know they’re doing it. Definitely not a desirable outcome from and IT or security perspective.
The only truly effect way to solve these issues is to engage employees and ensure that they have a stake in the outcome. Here are seven ways to do that.
- Ask users to submit public app suggestions and feedback on selected apps
- Actively recruit employees to beta test internal apps and deliver responses to their feedback
- If a user’s demands cannot be met due to security and policy concerns, cost, or for any other reason, provide a detailed explanation as to why
- Use enterprise social networks and similar mediums to start and discussions that include users, IT staff, and developers around topics like apps, features, priorities, limitations, and how-to advice
- Engage and educate users about security and business and technology processes so that they have context for any policies, restrictions, and internal apps
- Publicly acknowledge users that improve the iOS enterprise experience – by finding bugs in internal apps, suggesting public apps, or providing advice and tips coworkers
- Reward users for adhering to policies – rewards can be public acknowledgement, less restrictive mobile management for their device(s), apps or iTunes Store credit, or material gifts
Ultimately, iOS and other mobile platforms are altering the social contract between users, management, and IT – keeping everyone engaged as that shift occurs is the best way for everyone to win.