Mobile BPM Apps and Agile Businesses

Most of the leading BPM and Case Management vendors emphasise the business  agility benefits delivered by their solutions. Whether it’s Dynamic BPM or Adaptive Case Management the vendor focus is on enabling businesses to be responsive to change, delivering business fluidity and managing the unpredictable. The mobile ecosystem with its multitude of device types, form factors, operating systems and speed of evolution epitomises this dynamic, unpredictable environment across which today agile business processes must now be able to operate.

Currently mobile app developers have three choices; Native, Web or Hybrid. All three can be used to extend BPM or Case Management solutions to mobile employees or customers however as I’ll discuss below, at present, only the Web apps can deliver business agility.

Native mobile apps have a number of difficulties when it comes to delivering business agility, specifically approval time, extensibility and cost.

Approval Time

At the moment it can take two weeks or more to get a native app approved on the Apple app store, post-Christmas this could be even longer. This fact does not sit well with the requirement for BPM applications to deliver real time process change. Leading BPM vendors are selling solutions today that allow business processes to be modified in real time in response to changes in their business environment. Waiting two weeks to deliver a change to a CEO’s mobile dashboard or to change the process steps required to execute a sale in the field just won’t cut it.

Extensibility

BPM mobile applications are unlike applications traditionally found on mobile devices such as games, social media or retail apps where the app is identical for all clients. No two BPM customers will have identical business processes and back end integration requirements. Business process improvement is a continuous process and customer requirements will evolve over time. Mobile BPM applications must therefore be easily extensible and allow organisations to react quickly to change which today is difficult to achieve via the native app route.

Cost

Business Process Management solutions are now increasingly to be found at the edge of the organisation through integration with for example with CRM systems. Mobile will take this a step further delivering BPM solutions not only to your mobile employees but directly to customers, all of whom will be using a variety of mobile devices. Within the organisation operating system fragmentation will continue to grow as organisations increasingly allow employees to bring their own devices to work. The onus will be on BPM vendors to deliver mobile apps across a multi-device, multi-operating system infrastructure. Developing and supporting Native Apps for this multi device landscape is prohibitive and as a result will constrain business agility.

While Native apps have definite advantages for specific market segments and business models e.g. gaming and retail where user experience and route to market are key factors for BPM customers these advantages are less strong and are outweighed by the business agility benefits of Web Apps that bypass the approval time, extensibility and cost difficulties of native apps.

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