B2E Mobile Apps: If You Build Them, Will They Come?

Consumer ecommerce companies increasingly give additional discounts to people who make a purchase via mobile apps instead of from a desktop site session. They want to incentivize more customers to download that company's app.

An interesting question came up the other day with one of RSG's subscribers: Can this logic be extended to the enterprise?  Should we incent employees to use mobile workplace apps?

Incentives to Increase Mobile Adoption

Based on my conversations with a few customers, I think such incentives can be helpful (within limits) for intra-enterprise cases.

Of course, instead of offering a discount, organizations offer other kinds of incentives, such as gift cards or movie vouchers.  There is precedent for this in intranet and social network settings, where you might need to overcome some initial resistance to get your colleagues to try some new features.

However, questions then arise around how long you can sustain these incentives and what happens when these incentives are withdrawn. We've learned from previous "adoption" campaigns that goodies can never replace genuine business utility if you want long-term employee engagement.

Make Sure the Mobile Apps Are Good

Ultimately, the app will need to be able to self-sustain and deliver useful services to the employee.

This is easier said than done in an enterprise environment. Some of the issues that need to be addressed are:

  • Too many apps: People can suffer from screen overload, and you'll want to ensure that your app literally “stands out,” especially when it probably coexists with a number of B2C apps
  • App complexity: A mobile app that just tries to replicate a desktop site can also replicate complexity. Never overlook context and simplicity in a mobile context.
  • Poorly defined and implemented BYOD policies: A lack of clarity in what employees can or can’t do hinders mobile adoption.
  • Ecosystem: You can go from one site to another on the web, but can’t easily switch from one app to another on your phone (although newer devices and larger screen sizes are mitigating this with split-screen experiences).

This is not an exhaustive list, but is still a good starter set to consider in any discussion of mobile adoption.

If you depend solely on incentives, employees will game the system the same way buyers do with e-commerce sites: use desktop interfaces for the first few screens, then take the final step of ordering from their mobile devices to get that one-time benefit. That’s a huge waste of resources for everyone.

Parting Thought

Incentives are like a test ride; real value actually comes from the app.

Other Enterprise Mobile Technology posts

Axway Acquires Appcelerator

The Enterprise Mobile Technology Marketplace is evolving rapidly and a number of specialized mobile technology vendors have now been acquired by vendors with a broader set of offerings.

Self-appraisal of our 2015 predictions

Okay, so how did we do? I total it up to 7 out of 10 (Yes - 6 times, No - 2, Partial - 2). That’s not as good as last year but not bad either