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This content is part of the Essential Guide: Enterprise mobile application development: A CIO strategy guide
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The mobile app payoff is in post-launch performance

Mobile app dev is the easy part. Find out how mobile application performance management software can prevent lackluster performance in the field.

Consider this mobile app pre-launch scenario: You've spent the last six months building a mobile app to boost employee efficiencies. The development process was coordinated perfectly, and testing of the application in all your lab and alpha scenarios surpassed the benchmarks. The app is now resident on thousands of mobile devices worldwide, and you're ready for your next mobile project. Bring it on!

Six months post-launch: Your manager is slamming you because the app is not widely used and poor service complaints abound.

What went wrong?

Bryan BarringerBryan Barringer

Development and deployment of a mobile app are the easy parts. Success and failure are determined by how well the app performs in the field and how it is being utilized by the user base. Once a mobile application has been installed on a device, it is light-years away from that "clean" testing lab-based environment and subject to post-launch performance factors, such as the type of connectivity (LTE/4G/3G/Wi-Fi), device and mobile OS; other resident apps; whether the app is used online or offline; user geography; locale; and of course, force majeure. Some of these factors are in your control; most are not.

A key way to counter these factors is the use of mobile application performance management (mAPM) software as part of your application deployment scenario and enterprise mobility strategy.

With mobile application performance management and measurement, you will be able to gauge the effectiveness of your application and gain perspective over the potential performance degradation factors listed above. Above all, mAPM software allows you to pinpoint where, when and why an error occurs for a user, versus finding out through a reported support request -- or worse, word of mouth -- that your app is a "dog."

Avert these two disasters by using mAPM

MAPM platforms can tell you down to the line or segment of code where the fault occurs.

Example 1: You are a member of a global company, and your development team just launched an application for expense reporting. The app allows the user to input expense details on the fly and image-capture receipts, etc. The app is deployed to 1,000 sales professionals in 20 countries. It is sophisticated enough to allow for expenses to be captured and stored locally if the user is not online, but to submit an expense report, the application requires connectivity.

The app works well in 80% of the countries where cellular connectivity is strong, yet for those employees in countries with a poor cellular infrastructure and an overload of users trying to connect, users trying to submit reports are repeatedly met with failure.

With mobile application performance management software, you would be able to set notification alerts for the support team to see such failed attempts. It allows you to take corrective actions that can be communicated to the affected user base. You can consider development changes to increase the chances of successful record transmission from low-bandwidth locations. The bottom line is that issues can be analyzed, better support can be provided and changes can be implemented if you have the clues as to where the issues are occurring, what those issues are and who is having them.

Example 2: A new mobile app has performed very well over the last six months, and you just deployed a new update with additional features. The new features worked great in all testing scenarios on all mobile OS platforms. Post-deployment, the support desk is fielding calls of increasing volume for one of the OS platforms. Something is amiss in the field, but there are no clues as to what is causing the issue.

With mAPM software available in the market, you could be notified of the errors before a help desk ticket is created and see that it is failing on a specific OS type. Also, the more robust mAPM platforms can tell you down to the line or segment of code where the fault occurs. This kind of detail will result in a tremendous reduction in costs related to troubleshooting and code reviews. Therefore, patch updates can be developed and distributed quickly.

Real-time performance tracking

Imagine looking at a global map illustrating every mobile device in your domain and having the ability to see how a set of apps is performing in real time. MAPM software shows you:

  • What apps are running and which are crashing
  • Where the hotspots are for current or potential connectivity issues or network outages
  • What effects mobile OS updates have on current applications
  • How to prioritize corrective efforts by the number of affected users

Detailed diagnostic data will arm your team with the best level of application performance tracking to better support the user base. This will result in a higher level of utilization of an application, which returns higher levels of efficiencies by users. In many ways, deploying an app without some sort of mAPM software is risking a healthy return on the investment made to develop that app.

There is much to understand regarding mobile application performance management, and there are many great companies out there with mAPM software to help you get a handle of this critical landscape. MAPM tool suites like Crittercism, Appcelerator and AppDynamics can make the difference in getting more value out of your mobile application plans. With solutions such as these integrated with an MDM platform like MobileIron or some others, your abilities to measure and manage the health of your mobile devices and applications is significantly increased. Without such tool suites and processes, you are virtually flying blind on what is going on in the field. To lack this insight is to undermine your entire mobile strategy. And in today's world, where enterprise mobility is a direction and not a decision, you can't afford to not put forth the best set of solutions possible to increase the likelihood of success.

About the author:
Bryan Barringer is a technology and business operations expert who specializes in mobility, user adoption, UX/UI design, customer acquisition, product design/management, strategy and business development. Starting at FedEx in 1994, Bryan was tasked with evaluating mobile solutions for operations and sales professionals and went on to become leader of FedEx Services' Office of Mobility and Collaboration before leaving the company in June 2014. He is now an independent enterprise mobility consultant and speaker.

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