Wanted: simple apps for complex enterprise applications

End-users want to see experiences similar to what they get from their smartphones. Can IT deliver?

Is the rise of mobile apps spoiling business end users? There's an increasing groundswell of demand for simple, mobile apps to serve as front ends to applications. However, enterprise software may be too complex and inter-related for a simple smartphone app.

In a recent post, Accenture's Ari Bernstein points out that enterprise application front ends are increasingly mimicking the simple, no-frills look of mobile apps. The push for simple, app interfaces is coming from business end users who want to see experiences similar to what they get from their smartphones:

"Eager for relief from some of their biggest pain points—especially their systems’ lack of agility—business leaders have been pushing for software that is far nimbler than the legacy systems they’ve relied on for decades. They have been pressing IT to give them, in the workplace, the kinds of low-cost, accessible, and often intelligent apps they use every day on their own mobile devices."

So there's a big-time push for simpler, more modular, and more custom apps. However, Bernstein cautions, building an app that will manage a song playlist is far simpler than the complex computing requirements seen in enterprises. Enterprises often "require multiple applications to run intricate business processes that may span multiple time zones, several countries, and thousands of employees."

The key to enterprise apps, then is connectivity and ability to integrate. Bernstein says that the apps that will function best in enterprise settings may not be individual, single-function apps, but rather, "libraries or ecosystems of applications that can, while still being individually simple and agile, be bolted together to tackle the most challenging problems." Ultimately, business end-users themselves will have the tools to design and build their front-end apps. But IT's guidance is needed.

(Thumbnail photo: Joe McKendrick.)