Enterprise and the consumerisation of mobility: Bob Schukai #AppsWorld
The enterprise sector is catching up with the consumer sector – and it’ll be very interesting to see how companies embrace the space.
That’s the verdict of Bob Schukai, head of mobility at Thomson Reuters. Ahead of his appearance at Apps World, Enterprise AppsTech caught up with Schukai to discuss the optimum way of designing an enterprise app and how functionality fits in.
Don’t replicate the desktop
Back in July Infragistics senior UX architect, Marshal Datkowitz wrote for DeveloperTech, giving a variety of reasons to suggest why “desktop replication”, as Schukai puts it, is a big no-no for developers.
“People bring a whole new set of expectations to their mobile devices,” Datkowitz wrote, adding: “Developers who are simply miniaturising the PC experience for the mobile device are missing the point”.
Schukai concurs, citing the difficulties Adobe Flash has rendering on a tablet as a standard practical difficulty. Yet understanding the UX is vital.
“Are you going to design the product in such a way that you tend to replicate how the user experience was on desktop, or are you going to create experiences more natural to how an iPad gets used, for example?” Schukai asks.
He adds: “If they’ve already got a tablet mindset, then you probably want to design your product in such a way that takes advantage of how tablets function, but if you have people that are a little more conservative, then you go down that direction.
“But it’s all about getting an understanding – what is the right amount of information to put on these smaller screen devices? – and not trying to replicate the desktop.”
“Keep it simple...you don’t have to overdo it”
But what about the clinical, functional, information-driven design of many enterprise applications; surely there’s really no reason for them to look good? Wrong, says Schukai. If anything, there’s no excuse for them not looking good.
We in the B2B world often forget, he argues, that bankers, lawyers, doctors, and enterprise executives are people too. “They’re the same people that use products like Angry Birds and Facebook,” he says.
“When you see this blurring of our work-life balance – it’s not a work-life balance, it’s a work-life blur – the kinds of experiences we have in the consumer side can and should naturally transcend over into what we see in the enterprise space,” says Schukai.
Aviva global innovation manager Paul Heybourne spoke similarly when Enterprise AppsTech spoke with him over Aviva’s app, saying that enterprise app design was a “people project”.
Yet Schukai is quick to stress that this doesn’t mean overdoing things.
“I’m not by any stretch of the imagination stressing that you need whizz-bang fireworks, a bunch of crazy bombs exploding and birds hitting pigs to convey the information,” says Schukai.
“However, you can present it in a very pretty, elegant, simple way that makes it simple for people to find, and access and share and use your content,” he adds.
As for his favourite overall app in terms of design, Schukai’s choice is perhaps a left-field one: Zite, the news aggregator bought out by CNN.
“It’s nicely laid out, it learns what I like, it learns what I don’t like, the UI is very easy to use, [and] there’s not a ridiculous amount of bells and whistles,” Schukai explains.
“It’s designed exactly for the user base that it’s got and I think it has a high retention rate of people that come back to it over and over. I think it’s probably one of the best ones out there today still,” he adds.
And in the end, that’s what it boils down to: functionality and looks working together.
Bob Schukai will be appearing at Apps World in Earls Court 2, London on 2-3 October to discuss how to get the best experience out of an enterprise app.
“The enterprise app space, I think, has been ignored for so long and I think it’s so cool to be able to talk to people about the explosion that’s taking place,” he says of Apps World.
Schukai adds: “I’ve built a lot of consumer facing products, and you wondered when enterprise was going to catch up.
“Now the enterprise, especially due to tablet space and especially due to the iPad, is really embracing the space.”
For more information on how to attend Apps World, please visit the event website.
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