The growth of the enterprise apps market is well documented – Gartner predicts that worldwide spending on enterprise application software is expected to increase to more than £140bn by 2019. Great apps and mobile technology is no longer just the reserve of the consumer; large organisations are now benefitting from mobilising the internal work environment and the results are significant.
With recent announcements by the UK government of their intentions to digitalise the NHS within the next 4 years and an over-governance on paper based process being well documented, the time is now for healthcare organisations to seize the opportunities of enterprise technology to take advantage of greater efficiencies and long term cost savings. So just how can healthcare organisations begin to set the wheels in motion and start to successfully embrace enterprise mobility?
1. Embrace strategic thinking
The tech sector is laden with trends; trends that disappear as quickly as they appear and those that have real staying power and mark a fundamental movement in an industry. The enterprise mobility trend is firmly cemented in the latter and one that organisation’s can’t afford to ignore as they move into 2016 and beyond. That being said, healthcare organisations should be sure not to jump on the technology bandwagon just for the sake of it, just because they are seen to being doing the right thing. An investment in enterprise technology requires all stakeholders involved to embrace strategic thinking and consider the purpose of such technology within their organisation. What will the deployment of the technology achieve in the long-term? What are its objectives? Take a phased approach and define a realistic and manageable development roadmap. Often even large organisations, benefit from external expert consultancy to help stakeholders adopt a strategic approach and ask all the right questions before heading down the development journey.
2. Consider your employees
With the deployment of any enterprise technology, your users are your employees, whether that be healthcare staff on the ground or those that work in HQ. Make sure you consider them, just as you would do with a consumer application. Historically many organisations have been guilty of neglecting an app’s design considerations purely as it is an internal facing application. However, remember, to get the best out of the technology and ensure it is widely adopted and embraced by your employees over the long-term, the app must be engaging, intuitive and boast excellent user experience.
It may also be that your workforce is made up of different user groups from across the organisation that sit at different levels of seniority or in different teams. As a result the demographic in which you are catering to is varied. With this mind, be sure to consider control access and variations in permissions when using the technology. It may be you wish to deploy multiple apps to serve a business group or would prefer to develop a single parameterised solution that only presents the specific functionality required by the user.
3. Identify the correct technology and understand the full picture
Selecting the correct technology to support your plans for the deployment of technology within your organisation can be a mind field. There is a plethora of choice and plenty of opinion on each which often provokes passionate debate within the industry. Be sure to assess the technology approach at the beginning, taking advice from those with proven experience working with the software if needed. It’s important to review here and not assume yet thinking native, hybrid, cross platform or HTML5 is only the tip of the iceberg.
It is likely that any app you develop will integrate into an existing business system and if not, will require one building from scratch. In the case of the former, it may be a case that your system already provides a mature environment for mobile integration however the more likely scenario is that some level of work will be required to get the system to a state where its supports mobility and delivers the end points to allow the implementation of mobility features. Understanding this, will help teams understand the scope of the project and address all the areas and key dependencies for a fully comprehensive and connected technology infrastructure.
4. Establish a device strategy
With any large organisation that intends to deploy technology to improve their enterprise mobility, applications are commonplace. Within healthcare, we’re seeing such tech replace the traditional pager system which has historically been used by the healthcare staff that make up the largest healthcare organisations around the world. With this, comes the important consideration of whether to adopt a bring your own device policy (BYOD) or supply these for the masses? For those organisations looking to save costs, the former may be favourable however with this comes the issue of a complex of matrix of devices in which to cater for equating to more costly and complex development procedures. In providing devices, uniformity can be guaranteed across the hardware, operating system, varying handset manufacturers and form factors such as screen size.
5. Develop in the right way
Much of this will come down to the skills and experience of your development team, whether than be internal or external. In either case it is imperative to ensure they adhering to development best practices and embrace the testing/quality assurance process throughout, not just at the end. This way, you’ll be sure to ensure you’re technology gets a big tick mark for quality, doesn’t deviate away from the intended plan set at the beginning and avoids costly errors which are only uncovered at the end. If you’re intentions are to select an external team to help you develop your enterprise solution ensure you have done your due diligence – what is their development experience? Do they fully understand your requirements and what is their delivery plan? For large healthcare organisations it may well be a mix of internal and external teams working on your project. If this is the case ensure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and collaborative working is encouraged.
6. Consider security and IT policies
Introducing mobility into the enterprise will mean that existing policies need to be reviewed and potentially updated to support mobility – old policies may not support the use of company data outside of a company’s local area network (LAN) for example. Even if mobility does not break existing policies be sure to consider the fundamental differences between mobile and traditional laptops or desktops. Mobiles are inherently unsecure devices – they fall out of pockets, get left in taxis and get stolen. The implications of this are that the device is an unsecure part of the security chain and additional requirements must be placed on any mobile application dealing with sensitive information.