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Mobile Apps: Heroes vs. Soldiers

Employee-facing, mobile enterprise apps are a hot topic of conversation, and more than that, numerous organizations are now embracing them.

Of respondents to Ovum’s multi-market employee mobility survey 2014, 51.3% said that their employer already provides access to mobile productivity apps through an enterprise app store or portal. Whether providing for corporate or personally owned devices, it is apparent that businesses are starting to look at mobile apps as a way to improve working practices.

However, as examined in Ovum recent report Harnessing the Real Transformational Power of Mobile Enterprise Apps, not all apps are created equal:

  • Some are “Heroes,” performing a task that benefits employees across the organization and gaining huge popularity as a result.
  • Others are “Soldier” apps with a more specific focus.

We believe that while there is always a place for Hero apps, it is the more numerous Soldier apps that will eventually provide widespread value and transform business processes for everyone.

Successful Hero Apps Trigger Soldier App Deployments

Some organizations are trying to find one or two Hero apps that everyone can use and which gain recognition across the business, but Ovum’s view is that this is a fairly limited approach: the real transformational power of mobility will be enabled when businesses deploy a whole range of apps across different parts of the business that improve individual processes. These more numerous Soldier apps might not individually get the recognition that a Hero app would, but overall they are the key to improving productivity across the whole organization.

Hero apps are a good starting point in terms of company culture, encouraging people to think about which processes could be mobilized, but they are only the start of the process.

The successful deployment of one or two apps can start a virtuous circle in which more line-of-business teams come up with ideas about which processes they want to see mobilized, and the more apps deployed, the more individual end users become engaged and view the IT department as an enabler of change.

This speeds up the cycle of app development, getting to the point where individuals or teams can approach IT with a specific process that they want mobilizing and reasonably expect it to be enabled quickly – ideally resulting in an army of Soldier apps that are individually useful but also regimented and based on a common framework, meaning that they can work together.

Of course, there are various challenges to overcome and choices to make from a technical point of view in order to make this virtuous circle of innovation and productivity take off, and a successful mobility strategy is also just as much about corporate culture change as it is the technology.

Nevertheless, if Hero and Soldier apps are planned, deployed, and managed properly, together they can truly transform an organization’s way of operating.

Richard Absalom is senior analyst for enterprise mobility and productivity software at Ovum.

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