Much has been written on how innovative ideas are born, evolved and tested first on consumers before they make their way into the enterprise. We have seen it with Web 2.0 and social media and social networking. This is absolutely true and the consumer market proves to be a wonderful and invaluable living lab for the enterprise. In most cases the enterprise doesn’t have a choice since after the consumer market tests and likes something they take it to work!
Becoming A Better Mobile Application Developer for Consumers
Today I am going to propose something that will go the other way instead. It goes backwards (so to speak) from the enterprise to the common folk out there. If you learn this small and valuable lesson you will become a better developer of mobile consumer applications. You may not become a rock star in the App Store overnight but your hard work will pay off in the end way after the rock star’s have faded. Your applications will be more relevant, meaningful and useful to the end user.
I made the following point a few days ago:
…if we want to talk specifically about mobile workers the conversation cannot revolve around any one of the above points. Instead it needs to focus on one thing:
the mobile worker as part of a process that adds value to your organization
I was trying to drive the point that you you need to focus on the user and their process if you are going to build a mobile application that will add value to an organization. Don’t mobilize for the sake of mobilizing! Do so because it adds value.
From Workflow to Lifeflow
If you are developing in the enterprise you do (or you should) a careful process analysis of those roles you are going to mobilize. You study the workflow – the steps involved to produce that product or deliver that service…
Crude and Simple Workflow
I have seen a lack of rigour and structure among far too many mobile application developers. The App Store has not helped matters since now everyone wants to develop for that shiny object in the room. A shiny, distracting object!
If we look at the consumer the same way we look at a field worker, a sales person or any other type of mobile worker I believe we would have better, more user-friendly and truly relevant mobile consumer applications. You can’t really study someone’s life to the extent that you study a process … but you can certainly take the context and given situations, study and analyze those. I could almost bet that the best consumer applications out there were either done by studying lifeflows or by folks with a deep understanding and first hand experience of how those flows go (because they lived them).
Crude ... but definitely not simple Lifeflow!
Even though I can write for hours about this subject I am not going to… Today I will drop this on you and if there is some interest out there in helping me explore some use cases then maybe we will continue this topic. If not I will just take my little flow and go home.
(What I would really like to do is start a repository of Lifeflows so others can use these for development purposes… I know it is a stretch… anyone?)