Making the most of mobile apps

End users are downloading an enormous number of mobile apps onto their smart devices, but organisations could be doing a lot more to turn these mobile platforms into tools to help increase staff productivity and efficiency

Tags: Focus Softnet LimitedGartner IncorporationLogMeIn Inc (logmein.com)Microsoft Corporationinit AG (www.init.de/en)
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Making the most of mobile apps Mobile users are downloading an average of 23 apps per month each, but businesses are missing the opportunity to use those apps to increase user productivity.
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By  Keri Allan Published  November 21, 2013

With the increasing use of mobile devices for work and key trends such as mobility, cloud and social networking leading their development, the use of mobile productivity apps is on the rise in the Middle East.

As Ali Hyder, CEO of Focus Softnet highlights, companies are increasingly using mobile apps as they want to encourage teamwork, instant communication and access from anywhere, which in turn increases productivity: “Businesses and employees are already moving to mobiles for business alerts or authorisations. Since mobile productivity apps offer faster access to critical information, it helps in smart decision making.”

“We’ve really seen mobile usage and mobile apps gain traction in the enterprise. This will only increase in the coming years,” adds Dominic Cross, director of Enterprise Sales at remote management specialist LogMeIn. “We see the Middle East app market continuing to develop strongly as more and more businesses enhance their channels of communication with their customers.”

According to a recent study, smartphone usage has significantly increased throughout the Middle East, with the UAE posting the highest penetration in the region at 74%. The study revealed that 23 apps are downloaded on average per month.

These apps are becoming more and more popular with businesses as they enable improved business productivity in a myriad of ways. Workers no longer need to have their laptops constantly with them in order to function to the best of their capabilities, they can now always have the most up-to-date information to hand on their phone or tablet. Sharing and collaboration also makes teams more efficient, plus many apps sync via the cloud to ensure a seamless link between workers on the move and in the office.

Dr Usman Zafar, country manager Middle East and North Africa for init, which designs and implements solutions for governments, public administration, business and NGOs, shares what he thinks are the main ways apps can increase business productivity.

Firstly, they simplify collaborative work. “With productivity apps you can collaborate with other teams, for example drafting presentations, and search via keywords or tags to find exactly what you need quickly. Documents and drawings can be shared with an unlimited number of people in online meetings. A meeting attendee can join via mobile device,” he says.

They save time. “Capturing new leads and following up quickly can be a challenge when on the move. Send texts/quote directly from the app — no need to wait until you get back to the office. With some apps you can manage lots of conference calls.”

They also save money. “Some of the top mobile apps for business productivity are also available for free — which is a huge benefit to any size budget. Finally, they decrease companies ecological footprint,” Dr Zafar highlights, “all the benefits mentioned come without having to keep up with a stack of notes or pieces of paper!”

So what are the most popular apps that CIOs and IT managers should consider pushing to staff?

“Apple’s offer of iWork for free with new devices is causing a surge in interest in Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iOS users,” highlights Richard Marshall, research director at Gartner. “Other popular apps are note taking, for example Evernote, and innumerable task management apps which range from very simple to-do list managers through to complex project management facilities.

“These apps all correspond to the typical types of tasks people perform on their phones — short, contextually-relevant, and respond to primary needs,” he explains. “This is also true for another popular group: online storage and file management such as DropBox, Box, Skydrive and others. Not only do these tools make accessing content on the move easier they also provide cloud backup for mobile data.

“Android users also download administrative tools for their phones as the open architecture permits this,” he adds.

“Many of the personal apps have been designed to enhance personal productivity, but not always for teams. CIOs should therefore curate a list of apps that support high-productivity teams. These would include collaboration tools such as Microsoft Lync or Salesforce.com Chatter. File access is important, where secure, enterprise focused solutions such as Box or Egnyte should be prioritised over personal solutions such as DropBox. PDF and document editing suits such as Microsoft Office Mobile are clearly important for companies using those document formats.”

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