As businesses adjust to the reality of an expanded remote workforce, the next few months will make or break the technologies they use to communicate and deliver products. 

As temporary and experimental as things feel now, the aftereffects of COVID-19 will permanently change the work landscape. The sheer number of remote workers will go through the roof.

The groundwork for that massive rise is already in place: a recent study found that 80% of job-seekers wouldn’t take a job without a flexible working arrangement, and cloud software company Domo ran a stakeholders report in which “75% would prefer to access up-to-date business information on their phone if there was a good app for it.”

A Quantum Leap

There’ll be a rush of turnkey solutions for communication (get ready for a billion Zoom and GoToMeeting competitors) as well as entries into the already-crowded project management space (many Trello and Miro clones). And, there will be a quantum leap in the creation and quality of enterprise apps. 

The need for custom-built tools to facilitate internal workflows will be acute. Our new remote world will demand apps that offer deeper dives into company data, as well as secure, frictionless ways to share and analyze information.

Organizations will no longer be able to ignore the fact that an internal-use digital product competes for attention with every other consumer product their employees use during the course of a day. It doesn’t matter how relevant it is to workflow or how critical it is to production. If the app is ugly and complicated, people won’t use it, period.


But first, there will be hurdles. For years, enterprise apps haven’t gotten the love consumer apps have. Why? Because they encounter predictable obstacles:

  1. Timelines for “internal” products can be unforgiving: do it fast, get it out.
  2. Since they’re not customer-facing, design and UX aren’t prioritized.
  3. The product strategy doesn’t survey or account for employee needs
  4. Lots of internal stakeholders mean lots of confusion and scope creep.
  5. Budget, as always. Not going to sell it? Why spend money on it?

Sales monitoring tools, health and insurance resources, HR and training tools, and communication and logistics apps … they will all demand the same level of UX and design chops that you’d bring to any app you’d sell in the App Store. They will have to include things like:

  • A seamless, intuitive user journey
  • Beautiful, information-rich dashboards
  • Real-time data visualization
  • Secure personal and proprietary info
  • Fully-branded content and visual assets
Maintaining Company Culture

Editorial and visual content are key to company positioning, both internally and externally. Enterprise apps need to communicate and promote a company’s brand and values. This can be an important tool in creating and maintaining company culture with an increasingly remote workforce.

If you’re a digital product owner thinking about building an enterprise app, now’s a good time to make a quick checklist of what it might look like:

  1. Can you define the app’s core purpose in one sentence?
  2. What do you see as key features and functionality? 
  3. Who are the users? “Everybody” is tempting, but get specific.
  4. What problem is it solving and how is it making life better/easier? 
  5. What’s your time to market, and what’s a realistic initial budget?

Stay safe, stay creative, stay connected. Small Planet partners with businesses to create meaningful digital experiences for their employees and customers (at work and at home). Got a question about building enterprise apps? Ask us anything.

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