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Agile Computing: Article

Not Games But Game Changing

Why some mobile business app developers stand out from the crowd

Mobile apps aren't just for consumers anymore. Businesses large and small are recognizing that mobile apps can heighten employee efficiency and productivity. Mobile apps can give many companies a competitive edge through more agile customer service, sales tools, and supply chain management. In a Q213 Appcelerator survey of mobile app developers, 42.7% plan to build apps that are B2B and B2E (business to employee), and more than 51% expect to build apps for enterprise app stores.

Businesses face a number of challenges as they deploy mobile apps across the enterprise. With proliferation of mobile devices, mobile technology fragmentation, and the trend toward "BYOD," operability on multiple platforms is essential to ensure broad adoption. Intuitive user interface is important as well, since employees have expectations based on their experience with consumer apps. To avoid data leaks and other security breaches, businesses need to address authentication and access privileges across the enterprise. Integration with existing IT infrastructure, both on premise and in the cloud, must also be considered, as well as data retention and regulatory compliance.

On November 13, The Silicon Valley Business App (SVBA) Awards sponsored by Regalix, recognized six outstanding mobile business apps for their innovation and development practices. In this article, we describe two of these award-winning apps and how they effectively address the specific needs of businesses.

DocuSign Ink: SVBA Award Winner for Productivity
The global standard for eSignature®, DocuSign Ink makes it possible for employees to use their mobile devices to safely and securely provide information, sign or initial any document, and then return the completed document via email - anytime, anywhere.

DocuSign understood that for the mobile app to be adopted across the enterprise, the signing experience had to be intuitive and easy to use for any user - whether a customer, prospect, partner, supplier, or employee. Download and setup needed to be straightforward, and the process of opening a document from email, importing it into DocuSign Ink, and applying a signature had to be completely seamless with the highest levels of security and availability, since businesses would rely on the technology for mission critical operations. As a result, they designed the app so that users can easily complete form fields, drag and drop their signatures and initials into documents, and complete the DocuSigning of a document received through email in three taps or less. The DocuSign Ink app integrates with the native email client on each mobile device so that users can sign documents from within the email client.

In addition, they recognized that since many employees would be downloading the app on their personal smartphones and tablets, the interface needed to be comfortable and familiar for users on a variety of mobile devices and software platforms. DocuSign developed native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows, optimizing each for the interesting features of the individual operating system. Since native apps deliver faster and more reliable performance than Web-based apps, DocuSign was able to deliver a high-quality user experience, which encouraged rapid adoption among consumers and businesses alike.

By developing native apps, DocuSign was able to give users a rich signature creation experience and tools to enhance productivity. The app is tuned for pressure and speed sensitivity while offering a variety for pen types and colors for users to personalize their signatures. An optional push notification feature was seamlessly integrated into the app, which alerts users when they have documents to sign, when transactions have been completed, and the status of documents as they're being signed, all without the user having to open DocuSign Ink. These features make employees more productive to accelerate the speed of business and reduce costs-all without complicating the user experience.

Voxer Business: SVBA Award Winner for Social Business and Winner for Best Overall Mobile Business App
Voxer Business is a live messaging application that blends the richness of voice with the etiquette of texting. Unlike traditional push-to-talk phones or radios, Voxer Business offers both live streamed and recorded messages at scale, including voice, text, or images. Voxer Business can send live audio between mobile and desktop clients, enabling workers to collaborate regardless of location or device.

Designed to be an enterprise-grade communications tool, Voxer Business was built to mesh with companies' existing business processes and IT infrastructure. For example, the app supports LDAP, Active Directory, and other back end directory systems to streamline identity management and allow integration with existing enterprise system credentials, enabling a true single sign-on experience. Additionally, Voxer aligns its storage policies with its customers' existing data retention and regulatory compliance policies and utilizes military grade encryption to guard against data leaks.

Voxer recognized that employees would be using the app on their personal mobile devices as well as their desktops. Since low latency and high-quality audio are so crucial to the user experience (and adoption), Voxer developed native apps for each mobile device and a Web-based application for desktop that supports multiple conversations. While the look and feel of the app is consistent across devices, each native app is optimized for high-quality audio on the specific platform. Voxer believed that seamless integration of a desktop application was important from a business process perspective, as it gives users complete flexibility whether they are in the office or on the road. An additional benefit is elimination of information silos that can develop when desktop and mobile applications are not unified.

DocuSign and Voxer built their mobile business apps on different foundations. DocuSign was well established as a leader in eSignature and eSignature transaction management for the enterprise. Recognizing the growing trend of mobility among consumers and the mobile sales and service workforce, DocuSign added mobile apps to its product portfolio to deliver even greater value to customers. Voxer applied its mobile app technology, which first gained massive consumer adoption, to the rigorous requirements of the enterprise as it developed its professional-grade solution. Voxer Business is arguably the poster child of the consumerization of IT. Both companies have employed best practices to develop native mobile apps that deliver cross platform functionality, an intuitive user experience, and IT infrastructure integration. Much more than mobile versions of business apps, DocuSign Ink and Voxer Business are good examples of mobile apps designed from the ground up to work for businesses-and to make them more nimble and productive.

More Stories By Vikas Sharan

Vikas Sharan is CEO of Regalix and provides leadership and strategy to the company. He actively works with Regalix’s customers to define growth strategies for several Fortune 500 as well as venture backed companies. Vikas is a serial entrepreneur and has spent 15+ years in digital marketing and human factors. Before starting Regalix, he had founded Lozoic, which sold telecommunication products and services to Tier 1 telecom carriers in US and Europe. Before starting Lozoic, he was a key member in creating the first online bank, WingspanBank (acquired by Bank One, now Chase). Prior to this he led Emerging Technologies practice at Enherent (NASDAQ: ENHT). At Enherent he was responsible for creating Internet and Wireless strategies for companies such as Philip Morris, JP Morgan, and Prudential. Vikas is an author and frequent presenter at conferences. Vikas has a Masters Degree in Industrial Design from IIT Mumbai.

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