SharePoint & Microsoft Resources

The Rise of Micro Apps.

By Richard Hewitson, Production Director

The Rise of Micro Apps.

It’s about giving users valuable tools that are easy on budgets.

Business leaders and organisations recognise the urgent need for mobility in the workplace. Two in five companies plan to increase their mobile application spending year on year (1).

In-house IT teams are under increasing pressure to deliver mobile-led work with rapid turnaround. These teams are also driven to migrate users to super scale SaaS (2) platforms that reduce infrastructure costs and fixed employee costs, but deliver a fixed set of capabilities, that offer generic functions.

WHAT IS A MICRO-APP

You may think you don’t know what a micro-app is, but the chances are you have already interacted with one. Facebook Messenger for example; it does one specific thing (in this case allowing live chat between Facebook users) that solves a specific problem, without the need to navigate through a large and complex interface.

MICRO-APP VS MOBILE-APP

Mobile access has been on the rise, with more sites now accessed over mobile devices (3). But mobile applications have significant overheads with support, release and update on varied platforms.

There has been a tendency with mobile apps to offer more and more features to increase adoption and market presence. As the capabilities of mobile devices increase, the apps can offer better functionality. This is where many fail with splash screens, menus, and various sections – the user loses more time than they expected, doing what they need to do.

Micro-Apps on the other hand are generally built in HTML and easily integrated in a mobile platform or through a desktop browser. They are light in size and have a minimal, task based, feature set, allowing the user to feel in control and do what they need to do. Once completed they can leave and get on with something else.

BUILDING LINE OF BUSINESS TOOLS

Looking back on our monolithic enterprise level SaaS offerings with fixed functionality sets. These systems are unwieldy and a negative experience for end users; with training required for even basic tasks. But these systems also provide massive storage capabilities, strong interfaces for coded interaction, and cloud-based access anywhere policies.

Micro-Apps are ideally placed to leverage these platform capabilities with specific, personally focused, functionality, backed up by the platform security and storage.

They are easily managed by small IT teams and have minimum, easy to maintain code footprints. With a dev-ops process in place they can also be quickly updated, fixed and rolled out.

ROUTES TO SUCCESS

Successful micro-apps have a few key characteristics.

  • They must solve a specific business (not IT) requirement or issue, the business will buy-in to this
  • Design for mobile first always on functionality taking advantage of device launch icon and notification functionality where needed
  • Keep the feature set minimal and personalised, if it doesn’t relate to the task, don’t put it in
  • Avoid or minimise internal storage and rely on central platforms for this
  • Put in place rapid release mechanisms and customer communication channels
  • Always come back to the specific business requirement

REFERENCES

  1. Spending on Mobile Apps
    https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3353317
  2. Definition of SaaS
    https://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/software-as-a-service-saas/
  3. Mobile web usage overtakes desktop
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/11/01/mobile-web-usage-overtakes-desktop-for-first-time/

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