What do you mean, there isn’t an app for that?

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“I can’t believe there’s no app for that?” Opportunity missed for apps at the office.

It was an iPhone advert from Apple that coined the phrase “there’s an App for that”. It was so popular and catchy that Apple even trademarked the phrase back in 2011. Apps have transformed the way we live. When we check the times of buses and trains, we can check it through an app. When we listen to music on our daily commute, chances are we listen through an app. We track our health and fitness activity, we track it through an app. When we…. you get the picture, you might even be reading this through an app.

But as apps invade our personal lives, have they had a similar impact on our professional lives? Have organisations been able to harness the power of apps to improve the way we work? The answer to these questions would appear to be no, well, not to the same extent as our personal lives anyway. A key trend to emerge from our research paper – People, productivity and the digital workplace – is that employees want access to better corporate apps, and they want CIOs to prioritise building apps to ensure all new IT systems and developments can be accessed mobile devices.

When we think about it, a lot of IT departments have pushed back on apps, they’ve actually invested time in trying to prevent employees from using them. This is somewhat understandable, when consumer apps infiltrate the office walls there is concern around data protection and security. It can be an IT nightmare. But none-the-less, failure to provide proper alternatives for work is frustrating employees. They see the power of apps every day but don’t understand why this can’t be replicated in the workplace.

87% of employees say if they were CIO, they would prioritise building apps that make it easier for colleagues to work securely away from the office. The reason for this is efficiency. Employees feel hampered by poor access to databases, documents and work processes while travelling or in the field. Better access through easily available apps across all devices would make employees more efficient according to 70% of our survey sample (up from 44% just two years ago).

And to be fair, IT departments are coming around to this way of thinking too. They understand the pent up demand, they appreciate the benefits of getting it right, and they’re trying their best to deliver. Over 66% of IT decision makers say they need to build mobile applications that allow employees to use internal systems wherever they are. It’s number 3 on their to-do list and we should expect to see positive changes soon.  

At BT we’ve been researching the digital workplace since 2010. It helps us better understand the challenges organisations are facing when rolling out transformational projects. Our latest whitepaper to come from this study is ‘People, productivity and the digital workplace’. Click here to download your complimentary copy.

Joseph Walsh

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