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Mobile Apps Should Be Like Tapas: Because Less is More

Buona sera amici!  That’s something you would say here in Milan.  Yup, my last night playing the all too common game “Where in the world is Philippe Winthrop?”  Tonight is my last night here in Europe, having spent time in Barcelona and now Italy.

I wanted to share with you a little insight that I was reminded of during a meeting today.  During said meeting, someone came up with the idea of an unbelievably simple mobile app that a company could provide to its customers via a public app store.  The purpose of the app would be to accomplish two simple tasks – don’t ask me what they were, because you know I can’t share these things.  The point is that the two tasks were anything but complicated…but the potential impact, in terms of practicality for users was simply brilliant.

Frankly, the app could be considered really stupid at face value.  Just two basic tasks.  But what makes this potential app so special is that it complements another process in an incredibly vital way to enhance and augment that process in its totality.

THAT, my friends, is the power of mobility.

The discussion I had today was a wonderful reminder – with a real world use case – where in (enterprise) mobility, the last thing you want to do is throw in the proverbial kitchen sink.  In fact, it was a powerful reminder that less is more.

On a related note, Richard Marshall, an analyst from Gartner provided a tremendous insight during one of his presentations at the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona.  He shared a statistic from some of his research that for every web application a company may have, it translates into anywhere from four to 20 mobile applications.  Four to 20!!!!

So, first of all, this statistic should be the poster child for why you need to leverage a mobile application development platform (MADP) – especially when you plan on building apps for all the major platforms (and if you’re not thinking about supporting all mobile platforms, I suggest you reconsider that thought process).  But more importantly, it speaks (dare I say screams) to the fact that one monolithic web app does not work in the mobile world.  In fact, if you try to replicate all the functionality that you have in your web apps in your mobile apps, you’ll create what my friend Brian Katz has coined a “crapplication.”  This is the very reason why Marshall’s statistic of anywhere from four to 20 mobile apps per web app makes so much sense.

Mobile apps (at least in my opinion) should be like tapas (in honor of my brief stay in Barcelona).  A quick amuse bouche that allows you to get a savory taste and go on to the next task (or tapa, as the case may be).  Two simple tasks that add meaningful value….just like how many savory tapas can be eaten in two bites.

2 Comments

  1. Posted November 15, 2013 at 04:01 | Permalink

    Would you apply this to B2E mobility as well? Don’t you think that, for instance in the case of field service, users should resort to ONE mobile app that drives the user’s complete business process rather than resort to multiple atomic apps between which the user would be expected to know (through tiresome training) how to navigate?

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  2. Posted November 26, 2013 at 14:56 | Permalink

    I could not have said it better myself. Philippe hits the nail on the head with this article. Monolithic desktop applications do not transition well to mobile. Especially when corporations try to do what we at Capriza refer to as the “mashup”. Customers often ask to combine tasks into a “superapp” but that makes it even harder for the end user to use and will ensure that adoption is low. Apps should be simple and based around a single workflow. The tapas analogy is perfect in this case. As Richard Marshall accurately points out, the typical application should reasonable be broken into 4-20 workflow-based mobile apps. Capriza agrees with that statement and that is what we have currently seen in the market as well. The two tasks that we see provide a company with the most mobile power when they first start down the mobile journey are definitely time entry and approvals, but having access to those 2 simple tasks on mobile devices can save a company a tremendous amount of money and time and delight their employees.

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