Mobile design: Using design thinking to enable enterprise mobility

By Karin Kelley

The consumerization of IT, the cloud and mobility is a reality that no enterprise can afford to ignore. More workers are using mobile devices — either personal or corporate-issued — to do their jobs from wherever they are on the network. In a 2015 report, the International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasted that the mobile worker population in the US alone will rise from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million in 2020.

In order to accommodate this changing workforce, enterprises need to take new approaches to mobile design. This environment requires businesses to do more than simply transport an existing application that was originally created for use on a desktop or notebook computer. Now, these companies are under increasing pressure to quickly deliver quality apps that are specifically designed for use on mobile devices. Simply put, businesses need to take a user-centric and agile approach to mobile design in order to remain competitive and keep their workers productive and happy.

Implementing design thinking in mobile design strategies

Also known as human-centered or experience design, this strategy focuses on the user experience. Today, users are accustomed to getting access to applications, data and services on demand, from the powerful mobile devices with which they are already familiar. These devices and user expectations are changing at a rapid pace, so enterprises must adapt their entire mobile workflow to satisfy an increasingly tech-savvy and demanding workforce.

To do this, companies need to have a design thinking approach that starts with thorough research into how users are actually interacting with mobile applications and devices. This research must involve all concerned parties from the beginning to the end of the mobile design process including, most importantly, the users themselves. Agile development frameworks can help traditionally siloed teams collaborate throughout the process and encourage direct interaction with users through focus groups.

Benefits of a design-thinking approach to enterprise mobile design

Users have an enormous number of mobile and web applications at their fingertips, some of which are not corporate-sanctioned. They will use whichever apps make them feel the most comfortable. With a design-thinking approach, enterprises can improve user productivity by creating desirable mobile applications that are also in line with security policies and business objectives. In other words, mobile app design is no longer primarily about functionality, as it was in years past. Now, it’s also about the users’ experience when they are interacting with the app.

In addition, enterprises should develop flexible, context-aware mobile apps that can provide a consistent user experience across multiple devices and in various situations based on a user’s role and location on the network. All in all, the design-thinking approach involves determining what users need for their specific job roles and anticipating how their needs might change through monitoring, analytics and direct observation.

In a mobile- and cloud-focused world, people are accessing their business-critical applications in entirely new ways, and the process of mobile design needs to change to accommodate this new paradigm. With a design-thinking approach, enterprises can keep users productive and happy while creating agile, flexible applications that can stay up-to-speed with the rapid innovations in mobile computing, allowing them to remain competitive in a fast-paced, hyper-connected world.

To learn more about this topic, please register for IBM InterConnect 2016 and attend speaker Luke Harvey-Palmer’s breakout session, “Unsuck the Enterprise with a Design-Led Approach to Mobile App Development.”

Written By

Karin Kelley

Independent Analyst & Writer

Karin is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years…

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