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Patterns
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How Apps Shape Organizations

App DevelopmentThe term “app” is ubiquitous today. Odds are your phone, tablet, laptop, television, car, and every refrigerator are running apps today. Apps are digital tools that provide a specific set of functions. They are mobile-friendly, socially-enabled, and location-aware. For users, apps bring a sense of order and organization to our daily lives. Apps impact and improve organizations at a higher level too, often in less-recognizable ways than the immediate results and gratification of individuals users.

Apps Collect Data

For any organization, the most basic function an app serves is the collection of data. Time entries, expense reports and sales results are all classic data points for collection in any organization. Build an app with some input fields and you can collect any data you want. The trend we’ve seen around data collection in apps is about being specific in your data collection. Collecting the data you need in an app (not what you want / think you need) quite simply makes for a smaller and often more usable app, which in turn is likely to be more easily adopted.

Apps Embody Process

The data collection noted above is likely part of a larger process at that organization. Note the word “embody”, rather than “enforce”. Like a subway system, apps can help users navigate processes in a point-to-point manner. App users, like subway riders, don’t care about how they get to their final step nor what is happening around them that they can’t see. They just want to finish the task to support their goals and the goals of the organization. Put your process-driven apps on “rails” and gets users through the tasks quickly.

Apps Are Succinct

By now you’ve picked up on a recurring theme about apps: they are getting smaller, more specific, and more “useable”. The days of building large, monolithic systems are quickly fading away. The hardware and software technologies available for building apps make it easier for developers to create small apps quickly and reliably. That big system in the past may now be several smaller apps tailored to the needs of the audiences who consume it, supporting a process whose part is much smaller than the whole.

Apps Reflect Brand

Open a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn app on any device and you are likely to see great attention to the visual design and application of brand to those apps. For the aforementioned companies, their apps literally are their brand. The notion shouldn’t stop here, however. As your organization embraces more and more apps internally, the demand for consistent branding and design will only increase, as that visual association is what helps users understand how different apps relate to the organization, departments and processes they support. Imagine if every employee at Widgets, Inc. had an entire pane of apps on their phone that were built specifically for the company’s employees to support specific processes with consistent icons for each app and a consistent layout and design within each app. This will be the new definition of branding consistency.

Apps Extend Culture

Continuing our branding example above, and taking it one step further: An employee receives a device on their first day of orientation, pre-loaded with all a common set of company-branded apps specific to their position. Orientation is completed through one of those apps. The employee is introduced to their teammates and supervisors through a collaboration app, defines her first set of goals with her supervisor in a goal-tracking app, and receives a “welcome to the team” badge at the end of her first day. Congratulations – your company just imparted culture in this modern, app-centric world.

Red Argyle is a company that builds apps for businesses. We’ve observed these concepts and many others first-hand with the organizations we’ve worked with. We’ll continue sharing our app experiences and their impact on organizations in future posts.

Is your company an “App Company”? Leave a comment below and tell us how!