With a shiny new Sales Lead Tracking app under their belt, the team is pretty pumped. And rightfully so. Seeing all the hard work finally materialize into an app can give even the grumpiest of cats something to smile about. As product owner, you are convinced the project’s sponsors will recognize the superb work and quickly approve your funding request for the next round of features. After all, there are always more and better features to be had.

But you soon realize this isn’t as easy as you thought. During the meeting, one of the sponsors says, “The app looks great, but I just don’t see it in the numbers. One of the key business drivers of this app was to increase the total number of leads captured, and as a result increase sales, but both numbers look flat for the past few months.” More bluntly put—show us the money.

You try to figure out why the numbers aren’t reflecting the level of excitement. You assemble the team to understand the disconnect. Looking at the analytics reports, the mystery begins to unravel. In the 90 days that the app has been available in the enterprise app store, only 50% of your target employees have downloaded it. Even more frightening is that of the 50%, only 35% have ventured beyond the login page and, of that, only 10% have fully explored the app! You get the picture. It turns out, one of the biggest reasons an app fails to meet its business objectives is—you guessed it—adoption (or lack thereof).

Adoption entails much more than just counting the number of app downloads or the number of users who have launched the app. Rather, think of adoption as the repeated use of an app in a way that not only provides value for its users but also helps the organization achieve its business goals. Getting users to download an app is a challenge that can be tackled through marketing efforts, but getting them to engage with an app is a whole different story. In this two part blog post series, we’ll explore some of the reasons why user adoption for enterprise apps could be suffering.

  • User Experience – The quality of an app’s user experience can have a huge impact on adoption rate. A poorly designed app that lacks a touch-friendly UI, visual spacing, consistent use of fonts and colors, and an intuitive navigation-flow can push users to look for alternatives. Just because an app is internal-facing doesn’t mean it should be bland and boring. Organizations need to build apps that deliver rich experiences, a consistent look and feel, and an attention to detail that will boost user-engagement. And let’s not forget that user experience isn’t just about slick transparencies and hamburger menus; it also encompasses the app’s performance. Building well-architected apps that are free of any major defects will ensure users stick around long after the honeymoon period.
  • Everything but the Kitchen Sink – Building mobile apps to replicate the functionality of an enterprise application is another common mistake that can negatively impact adoption. Organizations that create a “one-stop-shop” app (a paradigm widely used for desktop applications) suffer for it as a result. Because mobile is different. Cramping features into an app makes it complex to build, and even more complex to learn. This steep learning curve will deter employees from adopting the app. And with constantly looming deadlines, learning a new app isn’t necessarily at the top of an employee’s to-do list. Similar to companies like FacebookGoogleDropbox, and Foursquare that are breaking-up their apps into smaller, single-purpose apps, organizations should focus on building simple apps with focused functionality that addresses the core needs of its users.

Stay tuned as we explore some additional adoption pitfalls in my next post.