Mobile use of your SaaS Application

Tablet computers such as the iPad and the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) to work trend have combined with the general trend of increased use of smartphones  to rapidly accelerate the use of mobile devices in business. When you designed your SaaS application this may not have been the case and you may not have foreseen this change. Are you and your SaaS application prepared to deal with this change?

Your application may not have been designed with mobile devices in mind or if so, the view was that well you can access our application through a browser and a mobile device has a browser therefore it should work fine.

To think about your business and application in mobile world several questions need to be answered. Some of these questions are strategic technology and product questions and some are customer usage questions about how your customers use your application.

Customer Usage Questions

  • What mobile device(s) and operating systems are my customers using to access my application?
  • Are they only using a mobile device to access it or is the mobile device used in the evenings, on the weekends and during travel?
  • What kinds of users are using the mobile device? Analysts? Executives? Mobile workers?
  • Are there certain sections of the application that are more likely to be used by mobile devices? Is there a difference in the amount of time that a customer spends using the application with mobile access?
  • Have I enabled my frontline customer positions with this information about how their customers are using mobile devices?
  • How do I expect the answers to the above questions to change over time? What implications does that have for my SaaS application?

Fortunately with SaaS applications there is the opportunity to collect the answers to many of these questions through analytics since it is possible to understand directly how customers use the application. Customer conversations and surveys are also ways to get at this information. Be careful in how you interpret the answers. For example, someone who spends longer on their mobile device using the application may find it more convenient or they could just be having a difficult time using the application on their device.

Product and Technology Questions

  • Is browser access to my application sufficient?
  • Should offline processing be enabled such as entering transactions which can be synced up later when connectivity is restored?
  • Is there functionality in the application that should be done on the mobile device itself? Is a native mode application that interfaces with my SaaS application the right answer? What operating systems should be supported?
  • When will HTML 5 be ready to use for enabling mobile functionality?
  • What functionality could be added to my SaaS application that would use mobile data to either enhance the customer experience through convenience or enhance the functionality of the SaaS application? For example, is location information useful or helpful?

These product and technology questions can help outline a product roadmap which appropriately incorporates mobile devices into your strategy. You may discover that mobile is not important to your services’ future but going through a process of answering these questions can help you figure that out and not be surprised.

Paul

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