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Consumerisation of Enterprise Apps


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Last week I was talking to one of the app developers working at a large enterprise. He was very proudly telling about his new internal application and how it looks like combination of Facebook and Google+ pages. When I reflected upon this conversation a little later, I realised that this is a very common demand from most users or business heads to have a FB like application.

What exactly is happening on the enterprise app side? I see a few trends here:

User Interface:
In the 80s and 90s most often, only place users would be using the computer was at work place. Enterprise app developers would decide user screens and users had no idea if it could be done better. But in today’s world, almost every user is using apps on mobile, tablets and home computers. Now, user’s inputs and their likes and dislikes are shaping enterprise app’s UI. And today’s trend is to make them look like the applications that users are using in their personal life most, hence the rise of FB/Google+/Twitter kind of interface in the enterprise apps.

When we look more closely, the demand for ‘FB like’ interface is not just a fad but has very important benefits too. One of the key benefits is very little or no time required for user training. I remember in 80s and 90s whenever there used to be a new application deployed (though there weren’t too many), the department would conduct 7 days of user training, at times it would take up 2 weeks also. Users were trained on use of each key function, shortcuts, screen navigation etc. Now, by making the UI intuitive and making it similar to what he/she is used to (for personal apps), many companies are saving time and money in separate training just for using the application.

Consumer apps coming into Enterprise space
To my mind incorporating functionalities of instant messengers in the enterprise apps like Sametime, Lync or Chatter is a very classic example how consumer apps have shaped the enterprise work place. Only when personal IMs such as ICQ, MSN, Yahoo etc proliferated and encroached into corporate IT that enterprise software vendors decided to embrace them. Today many companies and workers swear by the usefulness of these messaging/chat clients. Application like Chatter is an example of combining Facebook, Twitter and messaging functionality into one.

Mobile apps coming to Enterprise IT
This scenarios is even more interesting. While many enterprise apps like Lync, Chatter etc have a mobile version, what I am observing that mobile only app like WhatsApp is making an impact on the enterprises. I have seen many organisations where WhatsApp is used for messaging to groups based on projects, travelling employees using WhatsApp to cut down on international calls etc. Now the enterprises are taking note of this and want to have their own version of mobile apps (for good reasons such as audit, security and feedback). A new trend of enterprise mobile messaging is fast emerging.

Interesting times are ahead.

– Sachin Dabir, CEO and Director | Ashnik, UK


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