When creating mobile applications, developers can sometimes overlook one critical audience—the IT department. The same is true when planning to launch a mobile learning or performance support initiative. It is critical to consider IT department requirements when doing these things because IT is often the group managing the lifecycle of the mobile devices in an enterprise.
Failing to take the IT department’s policy management needs into consideration can cause the technology department to restrict certain applications. There is an opportunity to work together during planning and development to provide control for IT and the desired learning or performance support experience for the end user. I’d like to offer you some tips on how to make this happen.
The BYOD trend
You are most likely aware that there is an increasing trend of BYOD (bring your own device) environments in the workplace, so app developers are able to spread a wide footprint on a variety of devices. Android and iOS are consumer-centric devices, so obtaining an app is easy. For employees working in organizations that embrace BYOD, their devices and the applications on them may not be IT approved. This can lead to an exposed enterprise-data native on the device, in the cloud, and behind the firewall. Developers should consider IT’s need for security, such as utilizing the data protection APIs that prevent decryption from malware and also provide protection if the device becomes unlocked.
There are some key questions to ask. Can IT encrypt communication to the application? Can the application operate within a secure-device-container environment? Will the application prevent access by other applications seeking its data?
Developers also need to support mobile application management. IT departments focus on creating mobile policies that benefit the employee and protect the company and its data. Many polices restrict apps because they are not easy to manage, control, or secure. Developers should proactively adjust their apps to meet the wants and needs of IT. Again, one of the most important issues for IT is control, so make apps that are easy for IT to control. Here are some other important tips:
- Make sure your app can be optimized in a cloud environment.
- Use simple updates that are not confusing for the end user.
- Have your app available over both W-iFi and cellular; include a cost-saving option of Wi-Fi only.
- Make sure IT can easily find your applications OS, memory, and other operational requirements.
- Allow your app to be deployed privately rather than through an app store.
- Does your application track location or usage? It may be illegal in some countries. Can IT disable and enable this functionality easily?
- Does your application require a specific hardware certificate ensuring that a specific device is authorized to access the application and its data?
The bottom line
IT departments are also interested in the bottom line and are always looking for ways to reduce costs. When developers create apps that are easy to manage, the cost is more manageable as well. Developers should be cognizant of an application infrastructure and have the option to securely store content natively on the mobile device or in an approved repository. Applications for training purposes need to consider how much data is transmitted during typical mobile-based training sessions, so that IT departments are aware of the potential cost issues and can recommend lower-cost options.In order for a BYOD environment to work, IT must feel confident about the mobile devices and applications accessing their network. Developers should focus on building apps that give IT control to manage the applications on an employee’s device. Giving IT this power makes them feel comfortable with your application and will be a win-win for IT, for you, and for your shared end-customers.