|Issue:||Europe I 2014|
|Topic:||Mobility is the new mandatory|
|Title:||President & CEO|
Jennifer Tejada is president and CEO of Keynote. She brings to Keynote 20 years’ experience growing leading global companies through product innovation, marketing, sales and strategic innovations, having held senior positions with industry leaders across venture, private equity and public sectors in consumer goods, retail, telecom and technology.
Prior to Keynote, Jennifer Tejada served as executive vice president and chief strategy officer for Mincom, a global enterprise software company acquired by ABB. Previously, she was also vice president of global marketing at i2 Technologies, where she was responsible for building the company’s brand, market presence and solution portfolio. In addition, Jennifer Tejada has held several non-executive director and advisory roles in private equity and venture backed businesses, including oOh Media (current), Gizmo, Pollonizer and Foundation 9 Entertainment.
Jennifer Tejada has a BA in business management and organizational behavior from the University of Michigan.
It is now clear to most organisations that mobility is a must, and this includes ‘mobilising’ existing bespoke software that is used to run their business. However, such mobile apps must fit a diverse landscape of mobile and tablet OS and devices, since mobile workforce demands that BYOD is adopted. ‘Mobilised’ applications can be native apps, mobile website, web apps (HTML5) or hybrids. Hybrids combine the capabilities of HTML5 (easy developments, easy updates and discovery via search), with the properties of native apps (speed, offline capabilities and device functions). Once built, such mobilised apps need monitoring for troubleshooting and fresh testing of all permutations of releases, hardware, OS and network for every upgrade. Enterprises may seek a managed service that can automate this process.
Mobile is progressively becoming the go-to for internet access. This is not only the case for customers looking to browse, research and make purchases online, but also for increasingly mobile workforces who want to be able to use their personal smartphone and tablet devices for work purposes anywhere, and at any time.
As a result, organisations must reassess their online strategies and ensure that all versions of their sites and applications are offering end-users an optimal experience, regardless of the device they’re using to access the service. With GSMA research predicting that mobile will contribute €380 billion to Europe’s GDP in 2020 compared to €261 billion in 2012, it is even more important that businesses can tap into this market.
A three screen strategy
The online world has opened up huge markets, with otherwise local vendors grasping the opportunity to engage customers across the whole of Europe and beyond. A higher number of potential customers, however, brings with it more variation in how the internet is accessed. Therefore, businesses that sell online need to consider the different devices – mobiles, tablets and desktops, for example – as separate and essential sales channels. Creating a multi-channel strategy isn’t just about scaling a website so it appears correctly on a different device – this is only the first step. The content and features also need to be relevant to the mobile user and take into consideration that they may use the site very differently from a visitor on a desktop. For example, a mobile visitor is often on the move, and therefore less likely to be browsing a site and more likely to be looking for something specific. It is important that a website prioritises what is most likely to be of interest to the mobile user to satisfy this demand.
An effective ‘three screen approach’ must provide customers with a consistent service on whichever device they have on hand – tablet, smartphone or desktop. With different devices come different capabilities and therefore challenges, making site and application development more complex. For example, different screen sizes make it more difficult to present content consistently.
There are more than 300 different Android phones worldwide, with many (perhaps marginal) differences in the handsets. Even Apple has grown more complicated, with multiple iOS versions in use, and now the larger iPhone 5 and the smaller iPad. These may have a different level of usage in different parts of the world, even between countries in Europe, and should thus be prioritised differently. Furthermore, what might be attractive and appealing to customers on one device could have the opposite effect on another.
A common mistake is to rush into mobile compatibility without developing a comprehensive strategy. Some businesses are too quick to launch mobile sites and apps, because they feel the pressure to be where their customers are, and where their competition may not yet be. However, site and application developers not only have to contend with different operating systems, but also the number of permutations and different device types and sizes can be overwhelming.
It is therefore essential that businesses looking to reach customers online truly understand how their service is being consumed by mobile and tablet users. By gaining insight into what works, and more importantly what doesn’t work, businesses can start to build a robust mobile strategy that truly offers an optimal end-user experience, helping to improve customer satisfaction and retention.
Mobile app and website development – from customer to workforce
The focus on mobile application and website development has now gone beyond just supporting consumers and customers, to supporting an organisations’ own mobile workforces. There has been a noticeable increase in businesses focusing on improving staff performance and efficiency through investing in bespoke internal apps and their IT infrastructure and mobile app development.
Life was a lot simpler when workforces were armed with centrally managed Blackberrys. That type of device was controlled as to what went on them, along with strict data security practices. The popularity of the iPhone changed that, ushering in the BYOD era, as employees demandthe usability, functionality and convenience that using their own personal smartphone enabled.
In 2012, nearly 150 million people worldwide brought their smartphones or tablets to use on the job – that’s nearly a quarter of all consumer-owned smart devices. As a result, according to Forrester Research, 29 percent of the global workforce are now “anytime, anywhere information workers” who use three or more devices. Gartner also predicts that mobile app projects will outnumber PC-focused app projects by a ratio of 4:1 by 2015. In Europe specifically, analyst houses such as Strategy Analytics, are suggesting that the real rush for BYOD may be yet to come and, as the market overcomes complexities with operators and billing, the true scale of penetration by consumer-owned devices may be far greater. Businesses must therefore be prepared to scale the user experience they offer to a much wider audience. This is not to mention the number of employees using personal devices ‘unofficially.’
Whichever analyst house you listen to, it’s clear to see that businesses are taking mobility seriously, and investing heavily in how they can make the most of the BYOD trend to deliver real improvements in business efficiency. Companies recognise that BYOD presents a security risk and can make things harder for the IT team, but if executed correctly, these challenges can be addressed and significant improvements to working practices can be made.
Never before have businesses had the opportunity to interact so closely with their employees. The rise in personal infrastructure through the adoption of smartphones and tablets, along with improvements in mobile technologies and the growing availability of business apps, are creating new ways for businesses to empower their work forces. Generic business productivity applications are one of the biggest app categories for both iOS and Android. However, the big push at present is to ‘mobilise’ the existing, bespoke software suites that companies already use to run their businesses.
The ability to build the mobile front ends allows workers to connect to the vital data and systems that live behind the company firewall. However, building these apps that deliver functionality to empower the mobile workforce becomes increasingly complicated given the diverse landscape of mobile and tablet operating systems and devices.
Devising a robust, well-functioning mobile strategy
It is clear that to be competitive, just about every type of enterprise – whether it’s consumer-facing, business-to-business or corporate internal – needs to have a robust, well-functioning mobile presence. When devising this strategy, there are three basic paths to choose from to get started:
Native app: these are built for a specific operating system and live on the device. They offer the best performance, a true native experience, and access to all of the device’s functionality, including the camera, GPS, accelerometer, contacts, calendars etc. As for the negatives, native apps are only available in an app store, and therefore are not discoverable by search. They are also the most challenging option to test.
Mobile website or HTML5 app: HTML5 was heralded as the answer to all developer headaches, by allowing them to build websites that would work on any and every platform. While some of what was promised has been realised, HTML5 has not proven to be as seamless as was originally hoped. However, HTML5 can be used to make a cross-platform mobile website, or a mobile website that masquerades as an app. Its advantages are that it’s cheaper to build; largely cross-platform compatible; easy to update; available through any browser, and therefore discoverable through search; and easier to test than apps. The downside is HTML5 mobile websites are slower than apps and cannot leverage all of the device’s functionality.
Hybrid: a hybrid app takes an HTML5 website and wraps it in a thin native app wrapper. It attempts, with some success, to combine the best of both worlds: the easy updatability of an HTML5 site, with some of the speed, offline capabilities and native functionality of an app. It’s more affordable to build than a fully native app; is distributed through app stores, and requires similar testing to native apps.
The reality test
For any business that interacts with anyone online – whether it’s customers or employees – mobile is mandatory. It’s not just nice-to-have; it’s where users expect to find you. For a mobile service to be viable, whatever shape it takes – app, website, web app or hybrid – it has to be thoroughly tested on the real devices users hold in their hands.
The reality is, however, that there are simply too many permutations of mobile and tablet devices, in too many countries and on different networks, to test manually. Few organisations can acquire and maintain enough devices and contracts on enough carriers to fully vet their mobile and tablet offerings. For initial builds or development, testing on devices scattered among staff in IT or operations may suffice, but for adequate marketplace testing, the only workable solution is working with a partner that can assist in automating mobile testing, so that businesses can cover all variations of OS and device combinations.
At the operator level, Keynote has worked closely with Aricent to develop a flexible, best-of-breed testing environment for a Tier one mobile network operators in the UK. This operator and other companies can now have complete visibility into how their applications and services run – in this instance on ten different real mobile devices running over 1,350 test cases, with growth expectations to top 3,200 test cases in the near future.
The Keynote-Aricent partnership has succeeded in removing the time-consuming process of manually testing each software update, or each new device, therefore reducing human error. By creating an automated testing environment tailored to the operator’s specifications, testing is done by simply pressing a button. Furthermore, the automation process clearly demonstrates the impact of different software upgrades and new features in order to create the highest level of service and quality.
Further to initial testing when new mobile services are launched, businesses also need to be able to guarantee a consistently good ongoing service. Things can and do go wrong in the site’s own internal network, over the internet backbone, with the mobile carrier, or on the user’s device. It is therefore essential that businesses continually monitor their mobile and tablet site and app performance, to nip any problems in the bud. By monitoring mobile website and application performance from an end-user’s perspective, businesses can gain actionable insight needed for troubleshooting and ultimately, improve the mobile user experience.
The bottom line is that all businesses need to have an online presence that performs well, whether that’s through a traditional website, mobile or tablet; targeted to its customers or employees; or a combination of these. Having these sites running at full speed with maximum reliability will build confidence in the site and the company, visitors will be more likely to return and may even recommend the site to others. Website responsiveness, enabled by regular monitoring and testing in various environments on multiple devices, is therefore paramount to increasing sales, creating a good reputation and ensuring a connected and productive mobile workforce. It is by having this insight into online experience that companies can formulate sound mobile strategies and tactics, whether that is for European regions or further afield. The most effective of which, could ultimately see a company win out over less nimble competitors.