Interview: custom Enterprise-Scale Mobile Apps
The requirement of modern times, a whim of entrepreneurs or maybe a tool useful in everyday work? Tomasz Srebrny tells us whether dedicated mobile apps on an Enterprise scale have a chance to permanently find their place in Polish companies.
Marta Skiba: how is it with these custom mobile apps?
- Tomasz Srebrny: if we are to try to come up with a general thesis, I assure you – it will not work. It all depends on the type of business, the sector of the economy in which the company operates, its size, adopted business goals, field of the problem, etc. For one business it is an absolute necessity, for the other it is extremely useful employee support. One cannot forget about the group of enterprises, which is currently worth focusing on improving traditional systems. A dedicated mobile apps can change a lot, but we must look at the company globally – the most important improvements should be implemented first.
Marta Skiba: is such a global view of your clients’ business with you at every stage of your business activities?
- Tomasz Srebrny: definitely yes. Sometimes companies come to us with specific details. There are also very general questions about the need for improvement. Other customers only ask for “competent employees”. According to our rules, the contractor’s role is to provide comprehensive support and capture all possible opportunities and threats that the IT modernization process opens up for the company. The greatest satisfaction for us is the moment when we switch from strictly executive to partnership relations with the client. In other words, it is the moment when the client discovers the power of cooperation because he sees the benefits with his own eyes. That is why we focus so much on the product design process.
Marta Skiba: is such a comprehensive approach to the development of dedicated mobile applications necessary now?
- Tomasz Srebrny: the idea of creating dedicated software is to adjust the final product to the real needs of entrepreneurs as much as possible. Without a comprehensive view of the customer’s business, creating dedicated solutions is pointless. After all, there are ready-made mobile applications on the market that have various functionalities. Many enterprises can successfully develop and achieve their own goals using this support. Dedicated solutions mean a higher level of improvements, unique projects, access to which will not be available to competitors.
Marta Skiba: does the advantage of dedicated mobile applications lie precisely in the limited access to such solutions?
- Tomasz Srebrny: that is undoubtedly one of the main arguments. It is equally important that dedicated solutions have only those functionalities that are really needed in a given business. As a result, employees quickly become familiar with these systems and their attention is not unnecessarily distracted during work. The speed of access to information is also of great importance in today’s realities. It should be remembered that the greater the number of application users, the faster we will notice the return on investment in dedicated software. These solutions are perfect for large enterprises.
Marta Skiba: speaking of scale, what numbers are associated with the currently implemented custom solutions from Opsenio?
- Tomasz Srebrny: it all depends on the purpose of a specific solution. The mobile app facilitating the work of people completing orders in medicines warehouses currently supports approx. 800,000 orders per month and is used by 500 people. Our system prepared for a client from the financial industry regarding the integration with BIK handles thousands of inquiries every day and in the peak it records over 1000 inquiries per hour. It is worth noting that we have maintained the availability of this system at 100% for the last 2 years. There are many such examples, but the most important thing is always to adjust the functionality to the needs of a specific company.
Marta Skiba: then, what needs of enterprises can be effectively met with functionalities of a dedicated mobile apps?
- Tomasz Srebrny: there can be a lot of application examples, and many of them are still waiting to be discovered. In short, mobile applications can be used wherever technological support is needed in a limited environment (lack of time, difficult conditions, infrastructure and connectivity problems). Let’s look at the more obvious uses. A dedicated mobile application greatly improves the work of service technicians, e.g. in the utilities sector. In this way, a field worker gains a convenient form of communication with the company: he receives all notifications directly on the phone, knows the history of repairs, can immediately order the necessary parts from the warehouse, in case of doubts he gains permanent access to the library with substantive materials. Do you need more?
Marta Skiba: maybe let’s reverse the question: can you want anything more?
- Tomasz Srebrny: [laughs] of course. In practice, dedicated mobile applications can have a wide functional scope. However, it is worth remembering to make reasonable investments. The starting point should be to determine the goal to be implemented by the software, only later can you create a detailed architecture of the new system.
Marta Skiba: without a good foundation, it is difficult to plan a successful investment.
- Tomasz Srebrny: exactly! Just as there are no two identical companies, there is no one universal plan that will work for everyone. Knowledge of the client’s industry is a great help. It is possible to indicate the distinguishing features of a specific sector of the economy, and the contractor, who has already designed solutions taking into account this specificity, can suggest useful functionalities and technologies.
Marta Skiba: so there are some universal pieces of software that can be reused?
- Tomasz Srebrny: yes and no. We don’t copy solutions already created for another client, but we allow the use of specific technologies to facilitate data integration or migration, queuing systems, databases, etc. We don’t reinvent the wheel and from the technical point of view, there are of course reusable components. However, we treat each project and each client individually. Knowing the specifics of a particular industry, you can advise certain solutions that will be the most effective for it, but for us the customer’s success is more important than repeatability.
Marta Skiba: to sum up, one can probably draw a thesis about the full usability of dedicated mobile applications?
- Tomasz Srebrny: yes, but only if the created application fully meets the needs of the enterprise and has been designed in such a way as to ensure ergonomics of use. If you buy more or less ready-made solutions, you can really use a large budget and the final product will not necessarily meet the initial expectations. That is why it is extremely important to choose a responsible partner and an appropriate project management methodology.
Marta Skiba: which methodology will be the best?
- Tomasz Srebrny: this is a topic for a separate discussion. It is true that the point of view depends on the point of sitting. From a software development perspective, the agile approach is very insecure. It provides the flexibility that is essential if we want to achieve the highest product quality. Everyone who measures success through functionality will surely appreciate them. It cannot be denied, however, that for people who observe projects from a financial perspective, the agile approach seems to be unpredictable. Paradoxically, this is the goal, but not all organizations are ready for Agile Finance. Honestly, this methodology that takes into account the expectations of all stakeholders will work best.
Marta Skiba: is there anything else worth adding to summarize the entire conversation?
- Tomasz Srebrny: many people equate mobile apps with something small and trivial, and thus underestimate the complexity of the entire process. Therefore, the best summary will be the following statement: it is worth carefully preparing for the investment in dedicated mobile applications. All the needs, hopes and opportunities discussed at the initial stage help to improve the entire design and implementation process.