A while back we published a post about how company specific apps developed on Windows Phone 8 can help boost smarter working practices. To prove our point, we interviewed Petri Asunmaa, Senior Solution Delivery Manager, Enterprise Mobility at Microsoft IT.
As the leader of the mobile application factory, he loves to get his hands dirty in development projects. The very successful company apps he has helped develop are now in use at Microsoft Devices. So, how did the apps come about, and how do they contribute to a smarter everyday at a global company? Read Petri’s answers and get ready to be impressed.
What kind of company specific apps does Microsoft Devices have in use at the moment?
Currently, we have My News & Views for reading the company news anytime and anywhere, My Meet for arranging meetings, My Report for checking sales and production figures, and My Approve for managers to approve HR and travel requests. There’s a My Expenses app in the pipeline, for paperless handling of travel and expense claims with Windows Phone. We’ve also planned a My Sell app to allow sales people to stay on top of their prospects. It’ll provide up to date info on sales opportunities, customers and activities on the go.
How do you go about developing the apps and who gets involved?
To start with, we had a concepting project with people involved from different organizations. We then conducted a mobile experience survey to understand how employees use their mobile devices – and what they’d consider useful in the future. We still use these surveys to drive the development of business apps and the overall mobile experience within the company. In the end, we’ve had some twenty to thirty people to develop the actual apps.
In what ways do you think these apps help people work smarter?
The main benefits have been responsiveness and agility: you can do your basic tasks right here and now, things aren’t left hanging. With these apps, you can take advantage of the short free moments in your working day to complete simple duties quickly and easily. For example, you can read the latest company news in the taxi. According to the feedback we’ve had, this truly reduces stress.
At its best, apps like My Report could lead to groundbreaking fact-based discussions in a customer meeting or over lunch. And this in turn could lead to new ideas and projects, which can be difficult to measure in monetary terms but still make a huge difference. Through data monitoring, My Report also allows problems to be noticed early, for example in the factory, preventing any major damage.
What advice would you give to an IT manager planning a portfolio of company-specific apps?
To start with, it would be a great idea to allocate a team of mobile solution experts to support the rest of the IT and business organizations in creating the apps. It’s also crucial to establish an agile way of working so that the development team can quickly act on the feedback and requirements collected from end users, making the apps better and better. Once you have collected the user feedback and know how, developing these apps is a great opportunity to rethink and improve business processes, too.
Which of these apps do you think could be useful in your career? Any other ideas for great apps for your own workplace? Your IT department would probably love to hear those, as would we in the comments section below.