GET THE SYSTEMS INTEGRATION FIGURED OUT
Systems integration is not something you hear much about in conversations about mobile user experience – yet it does have a major impact on the usability and performance of your solution.
How tightly you’re able to integrate your app with your backend systems and other data sources defines what features will be available to mobile users, and how much effort they’ll have to exert to accomplish basic tasks. For example, if your field service solution could not get complete parts lists and failure resolution codes from your ERP system, and instead required the user to type these in every time rather than select them from a drop-down list, then that wouldn’t make for a very usable field service app. Companies run into such hurdles more often than you may think, so pay close attention to your or your vendor’s integration strategy as you start your project.
The other way that systems integration may impact user experience is by eliminating unnecessary steps in data entry and retrieval. Modern mobile platform technology lets you create something that’s called “composite applications”. These are apps that are actually fed by several of your enterprise systems and data sources at once, while presenting a unified, seamless user interface to the mobile worker. For example, your mobile sales app may integrate with inventory management, CRM and purchasing systems at the same time, letting your sales person check inventory, close the sale and place the customer order on a few simple screens. The ability to create such integrated workflows and eliminate the need to toggle between multiple applications to get the job done is a major enabler of a highly usable mobile app.
Finally, the quality of your integration tools has a big impact on the basic performance of your mobile application. For many data-intensive mobile solutions, such as asset management or mobile sales, the app’s ability to quickly synchronize relevant information between the back-end system and the device is paramount. For example, solutions that are optimized to only synchronize changes, rather than the entire database at every sync, will perform much better when the data load gets high. Additional optimization may let you further reduce sync times by only downloading changes that are relevant to that specific employee. Remember, day-to-day performance is a crucial contributor to a trustworthy mobile user experience, and the quality of your integration technology is a big driver of that.