UX Immersion: Enterprise Mobility Revolution

by April 24, 2012

In his Enterprise Mobility Revolution presentation at UX Immersion, James Robertson discussed the intersection of intranet design and mobile. Here's my notes from his talk:

  • People working on consumer software can share, discuss, and analyze examples of public sites. Intranets are hidden from everyone other than the company that uses them. This has lead to a lot of re-inventing the wheel and poor experiences.
  • Mobiles are going to completely change the nature of work and organizations. The pieces are finally here to make mobility work for the enterprise.
  • We have very slowly been making things easier for corporate staff. Internal user experience work (usability testing, task analysis, etc.) has helped fix issues in some organizations.
  • In a well designed intranet, content is not king. People are king. This reflects how an organization operates.
  • But most business tools still suck. Staff is paid and doesn’t need to be wooed with good interfaces. This makes staff unproductive especially when they are away from their desks.
  • Consumers and executives have experienced content and services in new ways (smart phones, tablets) outside of the office. This is putting pressure on internal teams to deliver internal services to new devices.
  • It’s great that internal stakeholders care but resources are few and far between.
  • There are a hundred easy fixes we can make for mobile devices today. You can go back to your organizations and do things now.

Roles of Mobile in the Enterprise

  • 4 things that put shape around mobile in the enterprise: connectivity, productivity, field force automation, and desktop replacement.
  • Mobile connectivity is the basics: get my work email on my phone.
  • Mobile productivity: do common office tasks while away from our desks.
  • Whatever you do, don’t deliver a mobile version of your intranet. People need a simple experience on mobile not all 4 million pages you have on your desktop intranet.
  • Supporting Blackberry devices added 40% more development effort to the UK Parliament’s mobile Web intranet.
  • The KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle is a good model for internal tools. We need to make things useful first, delightful second.
  • Field force automation: how do we help the people that actually do the work get things done? This has been around for a long time but has often been clunky.
  • When mobile devices get tagged on to the end of existing workflows, their full potential is often not realized. Rethinking existing workflows with mobile is the bigger opportunity.
  • Shift the mindset from intranets as content management systems (CMS) to mobile productivity tools. Make intranets not just useful but essential. Support the minute-by-minute tasks of employees.
  • Desktop replacements: can mobile devices take over for how desktops are used in the enterprise?
  • Putting documents onto iPads saved 80,000 Euros per year for UK’s Parliament on printing and courier costs. This is trivial: put old paper documents on new digital devices but it’s impact is enormous.

Design Principles

  • You can’t design solutions for mobile by sitting in meeting rooms. You need to spend time with staff in the field. To deliver solutions for staff, you need to meet them personally.
  • Spending time with staff introduces you to stories you can use to make the business case to executives.
  • It’s not about pages. It’s about tasks. Making sure pages lay out well on mobile devices won’t get you very far. You need to enable tasks.
  • Ask what 6 things staff need to do away from their desks? This will uncover tasks you need to support.
  • Desktop interfaces don’t work on mobile devices. You need to design simpler things.
  • Mobile devices are personal. Make sure to deliver personal information in your interface. Example: University students care about their exam results –this is personal, useful content.
  • We know a lot about staff but we don’t do a lot with that information. This data can help us find the right mobile solutions for the enterprise.

Mobile Enterprise Strategy

  • People find mobile devices exciting. This can be used to make enterprise projects more enticing.
  • Start conversations with your IT department by asking about (bring your own device) policies and security issues.
  • Conduct some quick field research with mobile staff then use what you learn to deliver HTML5 proof of concept demos that targets field staff needs with simple solutions.
  • Develop a case for the mobile enterprise to develop strategic solutions. This is the longer-term objective. To get there, start small.
  • Will mobile design drive a reverse takeover of the desktop experience? When people interact with simple mobile solutions –will they demand the same on the desktop?
  • Is there a future when some staff will only use a mobile intranet to complete tasks?