From my own experience and talking to many product managers who are taking care of launching a new mobile application for enterprise applications, it is very clear that the “usecase” definition early on in very valuable and makes a huge difference. Many enterprise applications are deployed On-premise or on Cloud and customers would like to access the data wherever they are and whenever they want. However, one thing that is not clear is “what data” do you want to provide on the enterprise mobile applications. In this mobility byte, I will focus on some homework and tips to define mobile usecases.
Know your Product : Practically every enterprise application has several modules. Each module has caters for a specific functionality and it is important to understand if each and every module is needed to be mobile. As an example, if your enterprise application has Installation, Configuration, Administration and User modules, you will need to decide what makes sense to expose to the mobile. In most cases, User modules may be first candidates to provide as mobile services. However, exposing admin and configuration modules to the mobile may not benefit a lot of users.
Know your Users and Talk to them : Of course, your enterprise application may cater to multiple users. E.g. IT administrators, Project Administrators and End users have different needs they all may not need access to the application via mobile app. However, in some specific settings, providing mobile access to administrators may be the best thing to do. E.g. If Administrators have to constantly need to loginto the systems and monitor services, they may find it very compelling to use a mobile device and get push notifications.
Also, make sure that you talk to each category of users from your customer base. This helps not to assume things based on a single user and also provides the pain points of the users with current system. At times we are able to solve a pain point with the current system with a creative solution on the mobile and sometimes it’s not possible to find any solution. So, when you are talking to the end users and customers, make sure that you provide the right expectation on what you are solving by going mobile.
Know the industry that you serve : Enterprise apps generally serve multiple industries and user needs in every industry is different. Some industries adopt mobile technologies faster than others. Know what industry you are serving and what kind of user needs should be met. E.g. Facilities Management folks has a high need for going mobile. But, the app needs to be very simple – big buttons, take decision, take pictures, etc – to have any adoption from users who are mostly mechanics, plumbers, etc… However, in Financial Services industry, users are mostly tech savvy and the nature of App can be different from that of Facilities Management.
Know your Technology Stack : Last but not the least, knowing your technology stack is important to know what to put into the mobile product offering. If you have a legacy enterprise app that runs on a old technology stack, you may not be successful in exposing them as mobile services. In such a context, trying to expose even a small part of the system take a huge effort which may not be worth. Talk to your engineering and understand the cost of such an effort. If you have a relatively new cloud based web services technology, you may not have a big problem. Again, technology stack may not be a deal breaker to build your mobile application but
Summary Questions to help you build mobile usecases :
- Is it necessary to provide all features on the Mobile too ?
- Are mobile users different from Web users ?
- Is mobile device used for data consumption or for decision making or for data entry ?
- Are your users mobile savvy? What kind of devices they use ?
- What are the end-to-end usecases that customers work on daily basis ?
- Does mobile usage bring in ease-of-use or increase efficiency ?
- Does your mobile app have an internationalization need ?
In summary, make sure what your product is and how it is used by your customers. It is necessary to do the initial research before any R&D goes into the product rather than tweaking the existing mobile solution because we did not do enough research.
Update 10/15/2013 10.06am : Some of you have reached out to me asking why I have not considered the “Competition”. Thanks for this observation. At the initial stage of building the usecases and figuring out the MVP for the mobile, it is not too crucial to think about the competition. You should focus on the YOUR customers and users and how they use the software rather than trying to build what customers have. Make “Customers/Users First” and rest all will follow. That said, competition is definitely important for the GTM to consider how to position and message the product in the market.