According to a recent report by analytics firm Flurry, 80% of the time that we spend on our mobile devices is consumed by the app, compared to just 20% spent surfing the web. While there is some wiggle room in numbers like these (consider, for example, how many apps let you surf the web from within the app itself), the bottom line is that the mobile app has become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, with the typical user launching an average of nearly 8 different apps a day.
As devices and software have grown more powerful and sophisticated, the functionality of our mobile apps has grown, sometimes providing an even more intuitive experience than the desktop and laptop counterparts that used to dominate the software landscape. With the typical user becoming increasingly tech savvy with their smartphones and tablets, the mobile app is having a dramatic impact on the business world, including what employees expect at work, the way we interact with our business software and where and how the work is getting done.
One of the biggest impacts on businesses over the last few years has been the increasing Consumerization of IT, where employees are expecting (if not demanding) the ability to utilize their devices of choice in their work lives. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environments are seeing increased penetration in the enterprise, reaching 40% in 2011.
One of the primary drivers behind Consumerization is simple: people like their tech. They’re comfortable with their technology choices and want the same power, flexibility and familiarity at work that they get at home.
The Plantronics Developer Connection™ put it this way:
“…the real reason that businesses have been so quick to adopt BYOD programs is the benefit seen in worker productivity. By giving employees the power to choose their preferred technologies, companies empower workers to find solutions that work for their unique needs and provide them with a consistent user experience between home and office.”
Flipboard for Android™.
Influencing UI and UX Design
When the mobile app first started exploding onto the scene, designers were faced with several unique challenges — how to make information legible on smaller screens, how to map out user flows using taps and limited button options, etc. While screens may be getting larger (and the rise of the tablet has eased constraints a bit as well), mobile app interfaces are still tricky beasts, but the most popular mobile apps are often master classes in clever and intuitive design choices. Apps like Flipboard, the recently revamped LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram all expertly craft their interfaces and user flows through the use of common mobile staples like taps and gestures to create experiences that often outshine their web-based counterparts.
Businesses are increasingly relying on responsive design choices to ensure that their products and web sites are optimized for the mobile user. And mobile design staples like large, clean fonts, large images and minimalist, iconic approaches are making their way into software on laptops and desktops. Take PGi’s own iMeet®, for example, whose iPad interface proved such a big hit with customers that the iMeet team applied it to the desktop version.
The most significant business impact of mobile apps is how they’re unchaining the workforce from their desks, facilitating flexible and remote work like never before. In the U.S., telecommuting has grown 73% across all sectors and a staggering 474% in the federal government alone. Increasingly powerful devices, the widespread availability of high-speed wireless internet and data plans, reduced bandwidth demands on streaming video and data and the proliferation of high-quality, intuitive mobile software have created a business environment where you can accomplish almost anything from a mobile device. You can have a video meeting on your smartphone or present a PowerPoint from your tablet, all from the comfort of your home office or teleworking site of choice.
To learn more about the growth and the pros and cons of telecommuting, download PGi’s latest free eBook The Yin + Yang of Telecommuting today!