Most organizations are implementing some form of enterprise mobile infrastructure. These implementations most often include an enterprise application store to securely distribute mobile applications to their employees. What kinds of apps should you mobilize to increase the return on your mobile infrastructure investment?
There are a few obvious mobile applications such as email and calendar clients that are readily available.
But IT organizations are eager to populate their app stores with something more—something that adds value. Eventually, you will have major mobile line-of-business applications populating your app store. In the beginning though, many corporate app stores are sparsely populated, and the users, eager to download and use “useful” mobile apps, are sometimes underwhelmed by the meager selection.
An enterprise app store needs to contain applications that are useful to employees for their specific job roles. Therefore it’s best to concentrate on widely-used applications that are relatively easy to develop and implement.
In the following sections, five IBM mobile experts from around the world chime in on what five starter enterprise mobile productivity applications you should consider for your app store.
Leigh Bentley, Senior IT Specialist, IBM Australia, @leighbentley
One very simple tool to mobilize is your instant messaging (IM) system. Whether that's IBM Sametime or Microsoft Lync, both client and server tools are readily available for all mobile platforms. It's surprising how rarely IM is fully available to mobile workers.
Mobile IM and presence gives people the ability to be quickly and easily available, even when they're away from their desk, which is all too frequent in today's world of back-to-back meetings and travel between clients.
Meeting room booking
Stephane Tremblay, IT Architect, IBM Canada, @strembla
It's 1 p.m.; you’ve just returned from a quick lunch and you rush to get to your meeting, only to realize you haven't booked a meeting room. So you pick out the first available room, and, sure enough, 30 minutes later you get kicked out. You should have logged into your workstation, accessed your calendar and found an available room for your local invitees and then scheduled an online meeting within your online collaboration tool. However, this can be complicated and usually requires you to get on a computer.
A meeting room booking mobile application would allow you to find and reserve a meeting room based on your location and resources needed. It will also set up a virtual meeting room for the remote participants and notify them.
Without such an application, the meeting room usage is far from what it looks like in the reservation calendar. This can inconvenience both your employees and your clients. People tend to reserve in advance and don’t release the room when they’re done because it's too complicated and they don't have time or because people take the first one available (without knowing if it's actually available) for the same reasons.
Empowering your employees with the proper tool right when they need it will definitely increase availability in a world where real estate cost is expensive.
Sean Phair, Associate Partner, Mobile Infrastructure Consulting, IBM Canada, @seanphair
Many organizations require employees to record some level of detail about how they spend time at work daily or weekly. Some organizations require only basic information (work, sick, vacation), but others require more detail for client billing purposes and more.
Providing a mobile application for your employees to record their time from anywhere is a major benefit to the employee and increases completion compliance rates for the organization.
Ricardo Zakaluk, Offering Manager for Mobility Services, IBM Brazil, @rzakaluk
An expense reporting mobile app is a great way to increase the productivity of your employees. In general, I spend two or three hours per week reporting expenses, collecting receipts and sending them off to be approved.â€‹
With an expense reporting mobile app, employees will have the flexibility to report their expenses while waiting for a flight, during a taxi trip or directly after a client dinner. It can also help prevent additional credit card fees due to delays and save some bucks for the company.
Here are some suggested features for this type of app:
- Expense reports: Employees who travel for work can generate and manage expense reports whenever and wherever it is convenient. All expenses identified by the smartphone are synchronized with the web portal using the cloud. This would help to reduce the hassle, time and cost required for processing expense reports.
- Receipts photos: Employees can easily attach receipts through the smartphone by taking a simple photo of their tax receipt—eliminating all the paper in the expense reporting process.
- SmartScan: When the employees take a picture with their smartphone, the SmartScan capability will use text recognition and enable automatic insertion of data into the system.
- Track mileage: Employees can easily track and include their mileage for reimbursement. They would only have to start the tracking feature when leaving and then stop it when they arrive at their final destination. The GPS tracking function in mobile devices would help to more accurately track mileage without distortion or deviation.
Steven Yeo, Senior IT Architect, IBM Singapore, @StevenYeoky
What would a travel booking application running on a smart mobile device look like? First, it would have a small footprint because it can be installed on your smartphone or tablet. Next, it would allow you to access the traveling system over a 3G or 4G mobile network or use wireless connectivity to make flight, hotel and car reservations. Lastly, you would be able to make changes to your travel schedule with it.
Why is this kind of app necessary? Global business operations have made traveling part of the job requirements for professionals today. Imagine that one evening, when you are having a great dinner with your family, your boss calls you and says that he wants you to be on the road the next morning. So the first thing that comes to mind is that you have to plan out your travel and accommodations. In the good old days, you could have just called a travel agent to get things done. But now, with an eye toward saving costs, your organization wants you to use a self-service travel booking system to make the arrangements. A mobile application for booking travel would allow you to make your travel arrangements at any time and anywhere.
So there you have it—our expert suggestions for five starter mobile applications that almost everyone in your organization could benefit from.
What kinds of mobile apps have you thought of? IBM MobileFirst services can assist in helping your organization reap the benefits of your mobile infrastructure by assessing whether custom-developed or off-the-shelf applications that you can deploy and integrate quickly are best for you. Please contact us on Twitter if you’d like to learn more, and stay tuned for our future blog posts.