Tomorrow’s workplace will have many apps

Going mobile have been the big initiative for the past couple of years with apps for work arriving on many smartphones, including Google Suite, Microsoft Office, LinkedIn, Slack, WhatsApp and much more.

In addition, we’ve seen the rise of software vendors like Staffbase,  who offers an employee app for internal communication and more.

As multiple apps become the new normal, what are the lessons learned from those leading the way? In this posting, I’ll share some of my takeaways on this topic from recent J. Boye group meetings.

How many apps are you using to get work done today?

The idea of just one single app for work might seem tempting, but think about the many different tasks this app would have to cater for. This would be an uberapp, that would be so bloated with features that it would impractical to both use and maintain.

I’ll admit to a love – hate relationship with apps. They tend to drain battery and come with privacy concerns, so I try to restrict the number of apps on my smartphone to a bare minimum.

As we’ve familiarised ourselves with smartphones, a few different apps for a few different tasks might not seem that bad, but how many apps do we really need to get work done?

janus-boye-smartphone-january17A quick look at my smartphone reveals that the ones I’m using in a normal working day:

  1. Dropbox for access to files
  2. Facebook Messenger as a communication platform
  3. Google Calendar to handle my meetings and tasks   
  4. Google Docs to work on documents
  5. Google Mail for my e-mail                 
  6. Google Sheets to work on spreadsheets
  7. Google Slides to work on presentations                               
  8. LinkedIn to prepare for meetings and as a communication platform
  9. Slack for internal messaging
  10. Twitter on social media

There’s also a few work apps that I’ll use weekly or at least frequent enough that I’ve kept them:

  1. Google AdWords to give me insights on campaigns and keywords
  2. Hotels.com to book hotels for business trips
  3. Rejseplanen to get around Denmark
  4. SAS to check-in online for my flights with Scandinavian airlines
  5. Uber to get from A to B when it is convenient

Tomorrow’s workplace will have more apps

Whether you like it or not, the direction of travel at the moment is toward more apps. Here are a few examples:

  • Wictor Wilen from Avanade was a guest in one of our recent group meetings in Copenhagen, where he shared that Microsoft for Office 365 so far has 9 apps with more in the making
  • A large Swiss member in the J. Boye network had 30 mobile apps for internal usage in the beginning of 2016 with 60 more in the planning.

Depending on your role and responsibilities, you might need additional and specific apps, e.g. with access to important guidelines or latest sales numbers.

In addition to the company internal apps, there’s also the numerous external apps for various use cases such as loyalty, marketing and self-service. Perhaps it makes for your organisation to build different apps for your customers or partners?

What you need to know about apps in the workplace

Here’s five points where I’ve noticed that J. Boye members have been busy writing in their notebooks at group meetings:

Think about adoption from the beginning

How will you ensure that employees will actually use the app? Training sessions for a new app seem counterintuitive when most are perfectly capable of downloading and using apps for private usage with no training required, yet offering training might be the right thing to do at work.

Some of J. Boye members like T-Systems MMS have launched their apps at corporate events to ensure widespread usage, while others have coupled sizable communication and internal marketing campaigns around their new app.

Apps require constant maintenance

A key learning from experts who have recently visited group meetings, including both software vendors like Staffbase and also app developers at House of Code, is to not underestimate the maintenance required for each app.

It’s comparatively simple to build an app and some even have in-house IT resources to pull it off, but with the frequent updates from Apple and Google, you need to constantly maintain your app to make sure it stays working.

Privacy is a real concern

I briefly mentioned my own privacy concerns earlier on, but this is naturally a big thing for most employees.

Today most countries have regulation on how to deal with employee data and with the arrival of GDPR in Europe, you have to cater for requirements like the right to be forgotten.

Whether you embark on custom apps or standard apps from vendors, you need to make privacy a part of your design.

One example of this is the usage of location as a feature, which might seem the good reason to build an app instead of a mobile website. A scenario could be finding the nearest canteen or printer, but few employees and workers councils in Germany and elsewhere will approve the location tracking of employees the comes with this.

Voluntary of mandatory?

Are you planning to make using the apps mandatory or leave it up to employees to download and use the apps if they so please?

Either way requires adequate agreements with the employees and fair amounts of planning and governance.

What happens if the smartphone is forgotten somewhere?

This is one of the typical questions and not everyone has a good answer to it. Smartphones are forgotten everywhere every day. Cafes, trains and airport lounges to just name a few places.

Let’s say the company apps are on your smartphone and you forget the smartphone somewhere.

Depending on how authentication happens in your apps, this could be a real security risk. Does a stranger now have direct access to financial reporting or confidential news? Some organisations have rolled out device management solutions so that smartphones can be wiped remotely in situations like this, while others require constant login for certain apps.

Learn more about apps as a part of the workplace of the future

You can learn from the best at our upcoming masterclass on Workplace of the Future in Amsterdam on 30 March. One of the speakers on the program is Susann Wanitschke from T-Systems MMS who will share their success story with the roll-out of their employee app.

T-Systems MMS also has a relevant and recently published whitepaper. See Enterprise messaging – an integrated part of work.

Finally, please do share your learnings below and help others navigate towards tomorrow’s workplace.

Solodev – an innovative enterprise CMS based on AWS

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Shawn Moore from Florida-based Solodev enjoyed the snow in Washington DC

While in Washington DC to moderate a meeting in the J. Boye CMS Expert Group, I had a longer conversation with our member Shawn Moore from software vendor Solodev. We spoke about tech trends, recent developments and how some of the big problems in the industry remain unsolved.

Solodev is a Florida-based content management vendor, which rebuilt their system from the ground up to be based on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2016. They are now working to redefine what it means to be a true cloud-based digital experience platform.

In our conversation Shawn highlighted these as some of the unsolved industry problems:

  1. The time to implement remains very high as it still easily takes over 9 months to launch a new website using modern software. It certainly usually takes much more than a 30-day free trial to deliver value
  2. Getting access to the software is one thing, but this is then followed by training, certification and then the months of implementation
  3. The cost of specialised staff is high and many customers have experienced trained staff leaving quickly to get a higher salary somewhere else

Without claiming to have the solution for all of these, our conversation touched on several aspects that Shawn and his team are trying to address. It was refreshing to hear a vendor speak openly about how we still need to make progress.

Innovating and learning in a changing marketplace

“We have found that the best defence against major unexpected failures is to fail often”

This memorable quote is from the Netflix blog on Chaos Monkey. Shawn highlighted this attitude as an important part of their innovative mindset, just like it played a big role in the Netflix cloud evolution towards making their infrastructure more resilient.

At the cloud-level, Solodev offers support for load balancing, content distribution networks (CDNs), and disaster recovery to keep customer data safe-and-secure across the AWS global network of data centers.

To be fair, it still takes considerable time and skill to implement an enterprise website using Solodev, but by offering easy access to the software and taking issues like deployments out of the equation, they are trying to save time for the buyers.

Making it easier to buy

To quote Shawn:

Every other industry has on-demand software which you can buy online, yet building enterprise websites lives in the legacy world with traditional software sales processes

At quick look at other cloud-based vendors like Crownpeak and Umbraco confirms that while pricing is available for starter packages, you have to fill out the contact us form before getting started at an enterprise level. In other words, you can’t buy an enterprise-level cloud solution without speaking to sales guys. There might be good reasons for this, but does it still need to be this way?

There’s been a market for software vendors using technology to build websites since the late 90’s, but some of the procurement processes remain unchanged.

At Solodev you can buy from their own website where small, medium and cluster versions are available. Their enterprise version with 10+ Hours per Month Support also requires you to fill out the contact us form.

In terms of pricing, you can also purchase Solodev on the AWS Marketplace as the 1st CMS available in there. The pricing model is hourly and  I have never seen that before in this space.

aws-marketplace-solodev

This different pricing approach might not be easy to digest for a buyer, but it does offer very low cost compared to traditional approaches to hosting a website infrastructure.

Introducing serverless CMS

I first heard about the term serverless CMS in May 2016, where Razorfish published an article on a reactive serverless CMS. They basically wanted to move their blog from WordPress and ended up with an architecture without running any servers, either locally or in the cloud.

AWS Lambda was an important part of the equation for Razorfish as the event-driven serverless computing platform that is a part of AWS and Shawn and the team at Solodev are investigating ways to supplement serverless next to a traditional CMS.

While the term serverless seems very new to the CMS space, Amazon is not the only that offers serverless compute options in the cloud. IBM, Google and Microsoft are in that space as well.

To read more about serverless, you can get a free ebook from O’Really: Serverless Ops – A Beginner’s Guide to AWS Lambda and Beyond. Thanks to Deane Barker for the book recommendation.

Learn more about going to the cloud

I’ve previously said that there are no sane reasons not to take your digital experience to the cloud.

Cloud and digital innovation are frequent topics in several J. Boye groups. Meet with your peers and set the agenda for the next steps in the industry.

Taking J. Boye to the next level

We are kicking off 2017 with some exciting news, which I want to share with you.

Almost 200 new members joined J. Boye in 2016. Great news as every new member makes the J. Boye community a more valuable resource for everyone involved.

Besides continuing to grow, our ambition is to continually improve the experience of being a member; to make the J. Boye community a useful and trusted resource in the working lives of our members. To make a difference to you as a member, by providing you with unparalleled access to insights in a rapidly changing world.

What I founded back in 2003 has now become a truly international community of highly talented professionals. Together with Lau Andreasen who joined back in 2008, and the rest of the team, we’ve tirelessly travelled around Europe and North America, meeting, connecting and challenging digital leaders while turning it into an exciting business.

During 2016 we realised that to take J. Boye to the next level and to continue to deliver we both needed to be able to dedicate more time and energy to where it all started: Meeting with you as members, moderating group meetings and events, being a part of industry conversations, writing and sharing continuously.

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Claus Olsen joined J. Boye as new Managing Director in December 2016

To make this happen, we turned a new page in December and welcomed Claus Olsen as our new Managing Director. Claus joins us in Copenhagen and brings with him vast management experience to take our organisation to the next level. We first met while contracting at Danish shipping conglomerate Maersk back in 2003 and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. He will focus on making J. Boye an even better place to work and also on streamlining operations.

It is a big decision to bring onboard new leadership in any people business, and I’m excited to have Claus join the team.

I believe that we have never been better positioned to realise our original vision of an inclusive knowledge network for those taking charge of transforming tomorrow’s businesses’.

Finally, I want to thank YOU for your continued support and contributions to the community. Stay involved. Sharing is caring!

All the best for 2017

Janus Boye

The value of a network: An advisory board of smart friends

jeff-cram
Jeff Cram from Connective DX has been a J. Boye group member for the past 5 years

What is the value added of being a member of a network which you have to pay for? It’s a simple question with many different potential answers. That’s why we have asked some our members why they joined the J. Boye network.

In this blog, Jeff Cram explains how he makes use of the network and what he gets out of it. Jeff lives and works in Boston as co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Connective DX, a digital experience agency founded in 1997. He also organizes the annual Delight Conference, and publishes the CMS Myth blog.

How to benefit from your network

I’ve been a J. Boye member for the last three years, participating in the CMS Expert Forum, as well as the annual J. Boye conference in Philadelphia. The relationships I’ve built from J. Boye have played a significant role in my own personal growth and the success of the agency that I own.

Specifically in the CMS space, J. Boye over the years has helped facilitate access and connections to some of the smartest folks I know across analysts, end customers and vendors. I find myself relying on this expertise to grow our business, be better consultants and shape my own perspective.

In growing our own Delight Conference, I’ve also found inspiration for the attendee/member focused environment J. Boye creates which is very different from many events that are simply trying to deliver an audience to sponsors.

I still haven’t managed to use J. Boye to finagle a vacation (I mean, educational experience) to Denmark for their annual European J. Boye conference, but I’m working on that.

The network between meetings: advisory board of smart friends

Being in a forum with the same people over time can feel like you have an advisory board of smart friends to reach out to when you need it.

I regularly keep in touch with many of the members and often reach out informally to compare notes, get advice, or gut check an upcoming decision. Of course, the most valuable conversations with members often happen at the bar over drinks.

What’s the value added of a network?

The value is entirely in the group that is assembled and the relationships that are built over time. It’s a rewarding experience if the network can convene the right people with the right motivations.

My business partner, Paul Williams, is very involved in Entrepreneurs Organization, which has also played a significant role in our agency’s growth.

Give – and take!

Like anything in life, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. It pays much bigger dividends to think about how much you can help others versus just what you want to get out of it.

I’ve seen a lot of people join networks with the goal of getting new leads or consulting gigs. There are better places to spend your time if that’s your goal.