Bringing Artificial Intelligence to Enterprise Mobile Applications
The Next Wave Of Enterprise Applications
I confess of being a pessimist on 2019’s technology outlook for enterprises In my 2019 predictions on digital transformation I suggest that 2019 will be a year of reckoning for IT organizations that should aim to demonstrate incremental value in their digital transformation investments and initiatives. I go on to share predictions in several promising areas of investment including artificial intelligence, data governance, devops, and low code.
If 2019 does prove to be a difficult year for investment and funding, it might be time to consider innovation projects that can make significant impact to workforce productivity and overall happiness. One place to consider improvements is in the design, capability, and overall experience of the mobile applications deployed in your organization.
Keep in mind that what keeps me up at night is whether an organization is driving transformation smarter, faster, and more innovative than its competitors. Getting ahead with the next wave of mobile applications is a strategy to better align people on the activities that make impact while making it easier for them to get the necessary work done.
The Waves Of Enterprise Mobile Applications
I believe that enterprise mobile application has been developed in three waves of capabilities.
The first wave was characterized by providing people with access to information. This could be a salesperson with a roundup of the week’s sales or an executive with financial performance metrics. This wave provided convenience, but little capability.
The second wave was characterized by applications that drove simple workflows. CRM tools enabled salespeople to update customer activities off their mobile device instead of doing this work in the office. Managers received spending approvals over mobile applications to help employees get things done with fewer impediments. Field service workers were given better tools to work remotely and received better information on where, why, and how best to service customers.
The third wave, which is where I believe most organizations are currently focusing on, is the wave of collaboration. This wave is characterized by tools such as Slack, Dropbox or Box, Jira, and many other tools that mix access to information and ability to complete work with collaboration capabilities. Using these tools, employees can respond to tasks, but also answer questions, provide ideas, comment on status, and other ways to share thoughts without having to be in a meeting or conference call.
AI-Driven Mobile Applications
I believe the next and fourth wave of enterprise mobility applications will be driven by artificial intelligence. These applications will provide more intelligence and capabilities to employees that will both delight them, make them smarter, and improve their productivity. Here are some examples:
- Voice enabled applications backed by natural language processing will make it faster and easier for people to provide richer information. Imagine the salesperson recording, “I visited Walmart and sold 60 shipments of our widgets to be delivered in June” and having the order management system update the appropriate records.
- Applications that optimize our day by analyzing our activities and pushing to us suggested priorities. For salespeople, this not only tells them what accounts they scheduled for the day, but what accounts they should be reviewing. For a software development manager, it might flag what areas to review based on the backlog’s priorities and what code was checked in the day before. These capabilities will leverage machine learning to process different information sources and act as recommendation engines to employees.
- Applications will leverage location to help employees make new connections. Maybe you are at a technology conference and the application flags you on others from your company that are also in attendance. A salesperson traveling to visit a client might be flagged on other employees also visiting the same city.
These examples are within reach of enterprises that are already making investments in mobile application development, big data, machine learning, natural language processing, and workforce collaboration. If some of these ideas are a step or two ahead of your organization’s technical capabilities, then consider using 2019 to research and prototype capabilities that can server as building blocks to these experiences.
Isaac Sacolick, President of StarCIO, is the author of Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation through Technology which covers many practices such as agile, devops, and data science that are critical to successful digital transformation programs. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, digital transformation influencer, and blogs at Social, Agile and Transformation.