More than a decade into the mobile revolution, there’s still a gulf between the smooth mobile experiences we enjoy as consumers, and the complicated, frustrating apps we use at work. Many workflows are still unstructured, in the sense that getting stuff done often requires multiple texts, emails or trips down the hall.
The best consumer apps are purpose-built. Instead of doing many things, they do a few things really well—hailing a ride, ordering a meal, or shopping for a present. Yet organizations often fall into the trap of trying to do too much with enterprise mobile apps.
Companies see consumer-grade enterprise apps as a key enabler of productivity, talent attraction, engagement, and retention.
They build sprawling apps that do 100 things poorly instead of the five functions you really need. That sprawl translates into confusing, mediocre experiences for employees. Result: People use enterprise apps because they have no other choice, not because they want to.
Thankfully, this is beginning to change. More and more, companies see consumer-grade enterprise apps as a key enabler of productivity, talent attraction, engagement, and retention.
Today, smart companies are combining native mobile capabilities like location and camera with the power of digital workflows and business rules to curate experiences that were previously unavailable. At ServiceNow, we’ve packed the full power of the Now Platform into Now Mobile, a simple, easy-to-use app that helps employees get work done on the go. Here are three quick examples:
Mobile solutions to enterprise headaches
Let’s start with approval requests, which drive many people crazy at work. Common approvals include expense reports, holiday requests, and IT needs like a new employee laptop or cell phone plan. Leaders need to stay on top of approvals to keep the organization from bogging down, but the requests often get buried in email.
Instead, Now Mobile notifies me when I have a new approval request. Simply tapping on the notification opens Now Mobile. Then I tap once more to approve or reject the request. And because our platform can be extended through integrations, you can also add approvals from other systems, such as Concur.
IT requests are another common pain point inside organizations. Here’s how Now Mobile can help. If I’m having an issue with my laptop, I just snap a photo of it using the camera on my phone. Now Mobile recognizes that it’s my laptop and starts a digital workflow to solve my problem, guiding me through choices to quickly order what I need.
Submitting the order initiates the IT workflow to deliver my new laptop. And voila: Getting help from IT is now as easy as ordering from Amazon.
Finally, booking a conference room is simple with Now Mobile, because the app uses my phone’s location services to identify rooms that are available around me. With a simple swipe I can book the room I need. Now Mobile also includes a QR code reader that allows me to report AV issues and other conference room problems. There’s no need to go to other apps or contact facilities.
Dos and don’ts
Enterprises looking to create a great mobile experience for their employees should follow a few best practices.
- Find the right use cases. Look for areas inside your organization where you can innovate quickly while solving a real problem.
- Ask users what they want. This sounds like an obvious step, but it often gets missed. When we were building Now Mobile, we ran focus groups with employees to identify their pain points. Two of the top asks were to make it easier to find conference rooms and connect with HR business partners. Neither feature was top of mind when we were planning the app.
- Encourage experimentation. Some departments may be reluctant to change how they operate. You’ll need to push some people out of their comfort zones. Leading with great mobile experiences, versus cost savings, is a great way to win hearts and minds.
- Don’t underestimate the work it will take. Most of what you’ll need to do may be below the waterline. Before you can create a new digital experience to answer tech or HR queries from employees, for example, you’ll first need to invest in simplifying and automating the underlying processes. That way you avoid putting a digital veneer on a broken process.
- Express your brand. Creating a meaningful branded experience requires more than just adding your logo and color scheme to an app. Every aspect of the experience needs to express your company’s purpose. For example, ServiceNow’s purpose is to make the world of work, work better for people. That principle was our North Star when we were building Now Mobile.
- Don’t stop learning. If someone asks our chatbot a question it can’t answer, we mine that data and use it to fuel new conversations.
- Make it human. Giving the app some personality will definitely increase adoption. If you say “What’s up?” to the Now Mobile chatbot, it responds with a list of pending tasks and a fun fact about ServiceNow. And if you open Now Mobile on your work anniversary, you’ll receive an anniversary greeting and see a burst of confetti on your screen.
From a talent attraction and retention standpoint, the mobile environment is especially relevant to younger members of the workforce. If what you’re providing is much different than what they grew up with, your company might not be a very attractive place for them to work.
More complex tasks may still be better suited to a web portal on a laptop or desktop. And I think we’ll always need larger-format devices to create content. But just as you see people using mobile phones at work when there’s a desk phone right in front of them, the experiences that are superior on mobile will become the exclusive territory of that device, even if there’s a laptop sitting six inches away.
Mobile is really an opportunity to boost productivity and engagement across every generation. Is there anyone who doesn’t want less friction in their lives? We all just want to get stuff done. That’s pretty universal.
For more on Now Mobile and the latest release of the Now Platform, check out my colleague CJ Desai’s new blog post over at servicenow.com.