Strategic: Generating app ideas everywhere


By Burley Kawasaki, senior vice president of products at Kony

Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” This is certainly true of businesses today, still, and especially in the digital and mobile age. It is, however, now more critical than ever before to enable, and involve teams across your organisation to participate in your innovation initiative.

The main reason for this is because app development at the enterprise level no longer needs to be the preserve of a few hardcore programmers. With the advancement in mobile application development technology, employees from all parts of the business can be instrumental in the ideation process for new mobile apps that can better streamline business processes, deliver greater productivity and results, and dramatically improve customer service.

Finding top ideas

Some of the best ideas can come from line of business types since they are closest to the business problem that needs to be solved. Allowing them to participate in designing apps that play a vital role in driving your business or teams forward will result in huge benefits.

For example, when designing apps, regardless of whether it’s a case of building one that improves employee expense management or improving the order-taking process, it is important that the app created has the simplest and most efficient user experience.

This ‘simplicity’ is critical and one of the main success factors behind a good mobile app. By focusing on turning ‘simple’ ideas into working business apps, many companies have reaped the benefits, ranging from creating a more productive field workforce to reaching a new type of customer base.

In addition to this, during development, organisations shouldn’t just seek to replicate existing website designs with hundreds of pages. They should, rather, aim to simplify their design right down through to micro apps and ‘mobile moments’, and then focus on how to further optimise these for the unique power of mobile and digital.

This innovative app development mindset can be encouraged through good old company incentives and fun get-togethers, where most employees would be happy to brainstorm useful and feasible ideas for apps that make work easier and more efficient. There will be many across the business who have a strong view of what type of app would be useful and beneficial too.

Once we eradicate the idea that apps can only be designed by developers, you are on your way to removing the limits to mobile app development ideas.

Keeping it simple

Today, developing a mobile app shouldn’t be more difficult than creating an engaging design mockup. Planning the best way to take advantage of this creativity, of course, does mean using some grey matter and working out whether web, native or hybrid platforms need to be used, but thankfully most of the code generation can be automated, or enabled with a touch of JavaScript. This, ultimately, means almost anyone with the right tool can develop and build an app.

Although, does this mean that every app idea should be taken forward and developed? No. But, it is important to judge an app beyond its initial idea. So build a solid view of its potential use case across the organisation and how it might benefit the wider business in the short and long term. You might just be surprised at the gems that you find.

One of our customers, a European energy conglomerate whose name I’m not allowed to mention on this occasion, recently hosted a hackathon for more than 500 employees from across the company, including business units, HR, kearning, marketing, and the rest. As a major energy provider in Europe, the head of IT called upon the support of people from across the business to come up with innovative ways to better perform various activities, such as improving customer service and finding new ways to work more efficiently.

The participants were put into over 100 cross-functional teams and they used an intuitive, easy to use development environment to develop mobile app designs and prototype apps; and company leaders were able to test the resulting app previews as working code, across multiple devices, before deciding which one to go for.

This is a prime example of how mobile and the democratisation of enterprise mobile app development is driving innovation across the business.

We imagine Steve Jobs would be quite impressed with this sort of achievement, but more importantly, it does provoke further consideration about whether organisations are fully aware of how they can redesign and transform their businesses with a democratised approach towards app development. The possibilities are endless when you get your whole team involved!

Kony is a cloud-based enterprise mobility solutions company working amongst mobile application development platform providers.


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