Nearly 60% of employees abandon corporate mobile apps due to a bad user experience

A recent study by Mobiquity finds that nearly 60% of employees are not satisfied with the quality of apps they should be using for their work-related tasks and abandon them. The study highlights a key challenge facing Business-To-Employee (B2E) apps – companies (especially mid-size ones) simply don’t have enough internal developers with the skills needed to build well-designed apps with a rich, intuitive user experience. With the BYOD trend only set to go, what’s IT to do?

For internal business processes like leave approvals, expense reports, employee on-boarding, patient referral, student admissions and so on, there are clear alternatives to internal development. You can choose specialized applications for many of these like Concur for expense reports and there are plenty of cloud-based HR providers.

But, for many companies, this isn’t a viable solution because (a) you have to deal with multiple vendors and (b) you have unique business needs. That’s where a mobile form builder like frevvo can help. You can easily design online forms and workflows so that they fit your business, integrate with back end systems and  yet work on all devices from smart phones to desktop computers to provide an appealing user experience for your employees. When employees can take pictures of receipts, sign using their finger on a touch screen, see tasks in one place and get work done quickly and easily anytime anywhere, they’ll use your apps and you’ll be well on your way to overcoming the B2E challenge. Infographic by Mobiquity.

abandonment-in-the-workplace-infographic

Why we do this

Building web forms really, really sucks!

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Years ago, my friend Yuri and I were working on a project for a large P&C insurance carrier. We had automated some business processes and were working on the online forms that people would use. The whole experience simply sucked. We’d worked for months, been through umpteen conference calls and no one was happy. Setting aside issues like the business users didn’t know what they wanted (true), the biggest problem was that we were mind-numbingly BORED. For developers used to a complex enterprise product, building electronic forms was beyond tedious. How many times can you tweak the border or the color or move a field a few pixels? Ugh!

We had to free other developers from this incredible waste of brainpower. As a developer, wouldn’t you be doing pretty much anything else than debugging CSS in Internet Explorer? Validating a Date in JavaScript? Tweaking XSLT so you can generate XML when a schema changes? It’s fun for a while but …

Real business forms & workflows are hard.

In the aforementioned project, the forms were huge, complicated ACORD forms
with supplemental data. They needed to conform to the ACORD XML schema. One of the
single most painful schemas in existence. A developer has to worry about:

  • Complex Validation (may be based on an XML schema or database)
  • Business Rules (calculations, skip logic etc.)
  • Electronic Signatures
  • PDF Generation (gotta print the form exactly according to regulatory requirements – yeah, this is true even in 2014)
  • Integration (databases, business systems, BPM etc.)
  • Mobile (becoming more of a must-have every day)
  • XML/XSD (many business systems and applications are XML-based)
  • Sophisticated layouts
  • IE8 to iOS 7 and everything in between
  • the list goes on and on and on …

We looked for existing solutions but nothing came even close. If you want a contact form or a wedding invitation or a survey, there are a dozen great products but try to actually meet real business requirements like the above and forget it. Maybe if you want to shell out $100K for InfoPath or Adobe.

So, we engineered frevvo for all this stuff. It really does all the above and more. We’ve had a lot of fun doing it and it’s very satisfying when we see fellow-developers at our customers being spared from enduring the mental torture of hand-building
business web forms.

Save The Trees while you’re at it.

We don’t like waste. We especially hate wasted paper. And we love our trees. So, we figured we’d do our part. With over 350 customers all over the world printing fewer documents thanks to frevvo, we’re saving paper and trees every single day. Plus, going
green == more green for the bottom line:

  • Fewer $, €, ¥, ₹, ₩, B$ spent on supplies (we get i18n)
  • Increased productivity (I know I type 5 times as fast as I can write) and fewer errors
  • Speed (get your vacation approved instantly).

At the end of the day though, for us, it’s about developers so let me reiterate. If you make developers build complex business forms by hand, you’re inflicting untold pain and suffering on them. Trust me – you’ll save money and end up with happier, more productive programmers using frevvo or even a competing product. Though, of course, we think they’ll be happiest with frevvo!

BYOD: 89% of employees connect to your network using their mobile device

Check out some of these numbers from this infographic from Egnyte:

  • 89% of employees’ mobile devices connect to corporate networks.
  • 65% of employees name smartphones as their most-relied-upon device.
  • Enterprise tablet adoption will grow nearly 50% per year.
  • 67% of organizations have seen large cost savings, allowing employees to gain 9 hours of productivity and billions in savings.

Mobile and BYOD are here to stay. Of course, I.T. must first secure the crown jewels but beyond that, embracing BYOD is clearly a winning strategy. With frevvo’s mobile forms technology, employees can do things like approve and sign contracts, file expense reports, and complete patient referral forms from any device, at any time and from anywhere. It’s easy and nowadays it’s mission critical.

Top SMB Trends for 2014

Interesting to see SMB Group’s Top 10 SMB trends for 2014. The top three items are:

  1. Progressive SMBs Use Technology as a Game Changer: They invest more in technology-based solutions … and will continue to outpace peers.
  2. Cloud Adoption Accelerates, But SMBs Steer Clear of Dark Clouds: SMBs have absolutely bought into the cloud promise … but aren’t too happy with the annual contracts, fees for everything approach of many enterprise cloud vendors.
  3. Mobile Management Becomes a Priority as SMB Mobile App Use Soars: 67% of SMBs now view mobile solutions and services as critical to their business and are deploying mobile websites and business applications to engage and transact with customers.

At frevvo, we’ve been seeing this for a while now and not just in the SMB space. For our customers, one, two or all three of the above are key. They’re absolutely looking to technology-based solutions and the promise of paperless forms to outpace peers. Many of them are seriously into cloud nowadays and every single customer sees mobile as a top priority.

Any of this describe you? Check out some of our videos and example forms and contact us if you think we can help. Don’t worry. We promise we’re not the hard-sell at all costs type and won’t hassle you forever just because you gave us an email address 🙂

Mobile browser usage hits 20% for the first time ever

Continuing in the IE8 vs iPad vein, Computerworld noted yesterday that mobile devices now generate > 20% of the world’s browsing activity. Hardly surprising for PC makers or corporate CIOs or practically anyone who can read for that matter 🙂

Mobile browsing went from  13% to over 20% usage share in just 12 months [Data: StatCounter]

Mobile browsing went from 13% to over 20% usage share in just 12 months [Data: StatCounter]

Barely 11 months ago in January, mobile was just 13%. It’s shot up to 20% in no time. Strong evidence not only for the fact that every organization needs to have a mobile strategy but also for the fact that software vendors like frevvo must focus on mobile to avoid becoming irrelevant and not waste scarce time, energy and $$$ on IE8.

How long will frevvo support IE8?

Too often, we still hear customers say “Most of our users are using IE8, which is our company standard. We also need to make sure it runs on an iPad.” It makes our developers want to curl up into a ball and weep. What can we do?

  1. Hack away!! IE8-specific junk in the CSS.
  2. Make everything conform to IE8. Good luck with tablets 🙂
  3. Let IE8 die.

We’re leaning towards the last option. Why?

  • We don’t want to become irrelevant ourselves. Mobile is the future and we have to concentrate our resources on the future. It’s simply too expensive to build apps with modern, curvy UIs and cool new features for the latest iOS toys that everybody wants while still supporting IE8. When we ask customers if they’ll pay an IE8 tax, that’s a non-starter too.
  • Microsoft will drop support for Windows XP in April, 2014. This should finally force IT departments to dump this decade-old technology.
  • IE8 not welcome here. It’s becoming more and more common – Google’s dropped support for example but increasingly libraries like jQuery 2.x do not support IE8. Developers [including ours] use these libraries everywhere and that means we can’t use the latest fixes in these libraries or have to maintain two separate versions.

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IT departments have heretofore [reasonably] asked “What will it cost us to upgrade?” It’s not cheap for large organizations. But it’s time to consider the costs of not upgrading such as the cost of continuing to build IE8-compatible sites, not being able to access large parts of the web, and running an OS that is no longer supported.

At frevvo, the Form/Flow Designers are already not supported in IE8. In early 2014, we’ll release v5.2. It improves the mobile user experience. Things will still work in IE8 but there are already noticeable differences. In the second half of 2014, we’ll probably drop support for IE8 altogether in newer versions.

Time to move on!

Are frevvo forms accessible?

Forms are a pain 🙂 It’s hard to get them to look pretty (remember, there are now literally dozens of browsers and devices), and even harder to make them usable (again across all devices). Throw in accessibility, and the challenge is multiplied and becomes even more time consuming.

At frevvo, we’ve heard about this from many customers and prospects all over the world – especially in the [obvious] Government sector. Unfortunately, frevvo forms today do not meet either Section 508 or WCAG guidelines for accessibility but we’re hard at work on this and expect it to be available in Q3 2014. It’s going to take some time since there is so much testing to do [there are just so many possible devices].

Runtime (use-mode only) forms will be made compliant with Section 508 (Federal guidelines) and W3C WCAG 1.0. In addition, runtime forms will also be made compliant with Oracle Accessibility Guidelines (OAG) which roughly corresponds to WCAG 2.0 AA. We’ll be providing more details as we make progress in the next few months. If you’re interested in more information, please contact us today.