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Driving app power through the enterprise

Driving app power through the enterprise.

The quick uptake of mobile phones in Africa has given a new lease of life to existing and new enterprises through the emergence of mobile enterprise applications.

Mobile enterprise apps enable companies to digitise and mobilise some of their business processes on devices such as mobile and tabs, including file sharing, document management and collection of data.

Lindsay Britz, the Marketing Manager at Magic Software SA, a provider of software solutions for system integration and mobility, agrees that this is a great time to take advantage of the growing technology.

"The surge in mobile usage is spurring increasing numbers of African enterprises to create a growing number of mobile apps for employees, partners and customers as organisations transform their businesses to the digital economy," Britz told ITWeb Africa.

James Mutua, Senior Research Analyst for Systems and Infrastructure Solutions with IDC East Africa, concurs on the uptake of enterprise applications.

Mutua attributed the push to a tech-savvy youth entering the workforce. Most use their gadgets to access company documents, forcing companies to introduce safe internal apps.

According to the Ericsson's mobility report 2015, by 2021 there will be over 1 billion mobile subscribers with 690 million of them being smartphones.

"Mobile B2C apps are gaining popularity in the region as smartphone penetration increases and as enterprises seek to increase their touch points for engaging with customers. In Kenya for example, many businesses are integrating mobile money solutions such as M-Pesa to simplify payment of goods and services," he added.

On the other hand, Britz advised that companies need not produce a large number of applications but have single integrated apps. "Developing a large number of enterprise apps is not the best approach. The key to a successful enterprise app strategy is to avoid the temptation to develop apps around individual features," she said.

According to Britz apps with multiple application capability are more valuable to a business and easier to maintain than having several applications.

"When transforming a business process, it is important to take a cross-functional approach that breaks down "stovepiped" divisions and focuses on enabling end-to-end processes within an organisation. The process for taking and fulfilling an order, for example, may flow across your sales, production, shipping, and accounting departments," Britz advised.

She also added that mobile app deployment should think of the user experience that makes the app easy to use. Having a feedback mechanism for the apps, can greatly improve its features, and help developers to customise the app according to preferred use.

Mutua predicted that, "As the internal mobile app ecosystems within enterprises mature, CIOs will focus on innovative development techniques to solve compatibility and interoperability issues across multiple devices and operating systems. Seamless integration between departments and security challenges will be the key areas of concern. We expect the number of deployed mobile apps to increase. In particular, deployment of apps aimed at improving customer service and marketing initiatives through business-to-consumer (B2C) applications will increase."

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