It took us a while to get there, and we had to get mobile first, but apps are about to explode as the best way to do business. It just makes sense to have light-weight, purpose-built functionality that’s highly specific to the various tasks within roles in the organization. We’ll look back someday in the (not too distant) future and chuckle that we once made everyone in the organization use a single application.
As counterintuitive as it seems, the best apps will be disposable by design. Rather than spending time on requirements and cycles of development, apps can take an “Always Be Testing” approach that rides out to meet the customer with iterations of design and development deployed through apps that are either useful or replaced by something better.
The beauty of narrow functionality and low-cost development is the disposability of the end product. The less work invested, the less the organization feels obligated to support the results. Change can happen faster.
The app you never open
A great story in TechCrunch, Irreducible, points out that an app approach done well shouldn’t force the organization to adopt new behaviors. It should make life easier. Bump is an excellent example of an app that significantly lowers the amount of work necessary to perform basic tasks like exchanging contact information.
The future of app development is limitless and involves apps that never have to be opened and automatically perform based on location or other factors.
Infrastructure is everything
Getting to an app approach means having an infrastructure that serves up information when and where it is needed. It means data is independent of functionality and its eventual use.
Rather than data being managed at the point of use, it will be sorted, sifted, moved, transformed and distributed in the infrastructure so that by the time it hits the app, it is just like the app itself…purpose-built. Rules, events, process, patterns, analytics and more will be application-agnostic. It turns conventional design on its head.
Apps are so much more than Words with Friends and Angry Birds. Just like social media, the ‘outside world’ will lead the way for the workplace.