Why Context Matters For Enterprise Mobility

Holger Fritzinger

Mobility is the driving force behind digital transformation, but many companies still lack mobile vision. According to Lopez Research, only 48 percent of businesses have a formal mobile strategy, and a recent employee survey by 451 Research shows that beyond e-mail and messaging, a staggering 60 percent of enterprises don’t provide mobile applications to their employees. This could be due to a lack of confidence in building fully integrated apps, or simply an unwillingness to embrace the digital revolution.

Even for those companies that do have mobile apps, some questions still remain:

  • Are they actually making workflows more efficient?
  • Have they made people’s jobs easier?
  • Do they provide all of the information and functionality that is needed on the job site?

The key to successful mobile apps: context

How can you be sure you’re taking the mobile experience to the next level in the enterprise? The key is in the context. Companies need to deliver something called “contextual right-time experiences” in the workplace. This is when products, services, or workflows offer the user the right information or services at the specific time and place when they’re needed, according to the Mobile Research Council paper Making Mobile Better with Contextual Right-time Experiences. Forrester Research refers to these right-time experiences as “mobile moments,” and Google calls them “micro moments.” Regardless of the name, it means having the right information at the right time. In other words, having things in the right context.

From a consumer standpoint, this means getting the product information (or offer) you need at the moment you want to make a purchase.

From a business standpoint, there are multiple meanings. Having contextual data is crucial to understanding and responding to a work scenario efficiently. A contextual mobile app can actually change the user’s work experience, making it better, safer, and more efficient – or even completely transforming it.

Why context matters

Regardless of your industry, you can benefit from the mobile transformation—as long as you make use of the data in the right context. When thinking about context, mobile enterprise apps should focus on providing the user with the best data to enhance their experience and improve the overall process. Mobile technology allows access to multiple data points that can combine information from both backend systems and mobile device capabilities, such as:

  • Identification accessibility and device type
  • Current status, sensor data, or activity information, including time of day
  • Transaction or equipment history
  • Location (GPS plus site details)

Even things like images, temperature, humidity, and motion can be collected to give details on the environment or work scenario. Once aggregated, analyzed, and combined the right way, these data sets can provide the insights required to tailor right-time experiences for the user. Remember, contextual right-time experiences on mobile consist of information, products, services, and processes that meet the distinct needs of users at a certain time.

Examples of right-time mobile experiences in business

1. Mobile apps for maintenance

Utility maintenance workers are often given a worksheet with brief details and an address for some equipment that needs to be fixed. Then they are generally left to deal with the issue on site and report back later with any details.

A mobile business app can completely change their work experience. Here’s how: contextual data in a mobile app can combine location information and history with up-to-date remote sensor data from the equipment at the site, plus targeted information about specific details such as hazardous materials, performance history, and the exact location of the equipment at the site (for example, on the roof of the building).

New capabilities offered by tech agreements like the SAP and Apple partnership also enable iOS device functionality to enhance the mobile app user experience on an iPad or iPhone. This could include using the camera function to take pictures of damaged or malfunctioning equipment, using movement and GPS capabilities, viewing current temperatures and weather forecasts, and incorporating fingerprint ID features that allow access to confidential backend data. A native mobile app can also allow users in the field to add current site information into the app in real time, enabling instant access to updated data across the enterprise.

2. Mobile apps for manufacturing

Every second counts when a machine breaks down on the manufacturing floor, so the hours or days it takes to deal with a malfunction can quickly eat into your profit margin. A mobile app could instantly alert workers to an equipment failure and access sensor data on the machine to help users locate the malfunction and identify broken parts or tools. Users could easily access equipment manuals and tool diagrams via the mobile app, and take the necessary measures to fix the problem. Historical data and images of previous malfunctions could also help diagnose ongoing issues more efficiently, and automatic alerts in the mobile app could notify users of scheduled maintenance and updates to avoid future problems, as well as significantly accelerate reordering.

Precision tool supplier Mapal is already taking advantage of using a native mobile app in its operations. Mapal’s mobile app also incorporates the bar code scanning function, which is proving to be very beneficial both internally and to its customers, to help identify the right tool out of the thousands of tools in use.

3. Mobile apps for medical

Mobile apps are increasingly being used in the healthcare industry according to the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare. This is often seen with wearable technology and mobile apps that monitor chronic health conditions, as well as apps that provide doctors and other healthcare workers with access to data at the patient’s bedside. However, there are additional ways that mobile business apps are being used in the medical field. One example is B. Braun implementing a mobile app to manage the sterlization process of surgical instruments to ensure operating rooms are stocked properly and efficiently. The workflow process was previously done using tedious paper lists, but now a native mobile app connects hospitals, sterilization sites, product knowledge, and sales systems to streamline the entire process and ensure the right information is updated in real time to safeguard accuracy and maintain critical medical supplies.

Getting the job done (quicker & easier)

As you can see, contexual data used with intuitive native mobile apps can improve many business scenarios. In the end, you have to understand how and when people will use your mobile apps in the enterprise. This includes the time and location of actions on the platform, and the processes being undertaken. Exactly what you want to accomplish can vary, but the overall goal remains the same: offer a better solution to a problem. Knowing your end goal is just part of the process. To accomplish that, you have to understand users and their jobs in order to create apps that provide contextual, right-time experiences.

Thankfully, advanced data analytics and tech partnerships are making it easy for any enterprise to build native apps that deliver a great user experience. So don’t waste any more time. Develop a mobile strategy, and start offering your users what they want: contextual right-time experiences that can make their job easier, more efficient, and simply better.

Learn more about creating a contextual mobile strategy in the white paper by the Mobile Research Council.

Read more details on why context is key for 21st century mobile experiences and learn how to cut through complexity with enterprise mobile apps.

Discover how the Apple and SAP partnership is revolutionizing mobile apps for the enterprise.

Find out how to bring the customer experience into the enterprise.

For an in-depth look at how the digital era is affecting business, download the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

To learn more about the driving forces behind digital transformation download the SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.


Holger Fritzinger

About Holger Fritzinger

Holger Fritzinger is currently Vice President of Mobile Solution Management at SAP. His focus areas are the Apple/SAP partnership, mobile strategy, and the role of mobile technology in digital transformation. Holger has more than 20 years of SAP experience in a variety of roles, based in Walldorf and Palo Alto.