What’s on the horizon for enterprise apps?
We know there’s a bright future ahead. What you may not have known is how much opportunity there is for mobile apps in unexpected places.
Recently, TechCrunch spoke with Byron Deeter, a venture capitalist at Bessemer Venture Partners. Bessemer has already invested in 10 companies centered on mobile enterprise apps, and Deeter offers up a great high-level perspective on the industry’s future. Two of his observations, however, are especially interesting.
The first is that, as he puts it, “often [traction] happens in areas you wouldn’t expect.” He cites construction as a great example of this. The construction industry is full of people who don’t sit behind a desk, but who do keep a smartphone in their pocket. As enterprise mobility is relatively nascent in construction, there’s tremendous opportunity for apps that can make employees’ lives easier and more productive. The same could be said for similar industries that don’t fit the typical enterprise mold. They could still benefit significantly from what mobility has to offer.
The second is something that can be easy to forget. Apps absolutely must be easy-to-use. “An enterprise mobile user now,” explains Deeter, “if they can’t figure out your product within the first 30 seconds, they’re gone.” This is an entirely different approach than enterprise software of days past required; big software rollouts often took weeks of training and support. Those resources still have to be available, but you simply can’t expect users to start embracing your mobility solutions if they aren’t intuitive and efficient.
As an investor in enterprise mobility, we have little doubt that Deeter has seen his fair share of good (and bad) ideas around the industry. And we tend to agree with him on both the points we mention here.
One thing to be careful of if you’re in an industry that’s slow to go mobile is trying to take the path of least resistance. As we’ve discussed before, it may be easier to make apps that take simple desktop functions and translate them for mobile devices, but that strategy just isn’t sustainable. No matter what industry you’re in, you need to think bigger than that. How can you improve the lives of your workers? How can you truly transform their work?
That’s a harder question to answer, but it’s one you must address. “There’s an app for that” just isn’t enough. Mobility has to be woven into your entire business strategy if you want it to succeed.
The most successful enterprises, from construction to healthcare, will be those who can find the middle ground between Deeter’s two pieces of advice. Make your apps too basic, and yes, they’ll be easy to use, but if there’s no clear benefit over doing the same task on a computer, then the novelty will soon wear off. Make them too transformative, and you’ll have trouble getting anyone to adopt them because they’ll require too big of a change in behavior.
If, however, you can find a middle ground—an app that improves productivity or transforms a routine business function, while still being user-friendly—you’re practically bound to succeed. And as we see it, there’s still a good bit of opportunity to do just that lingering in the distance.