4 Ways To Make Sure Your App is Adopted: Mobile Natives Are Here To Stay!

We have a workforce made up of Digital Immigrants, Digital Natives and a new term on the horizon, Mobile Natives.  By 2025, not one member of the workforce will not have grown up with a mobile device being their main form of interacting with a process.  Are you ready?

Between the iTunes App store and Google play there are 3.5 million mobile apps available to the consumer today. But only a tiny percentage of them will ever be installed and only a further smaller percentage will see regular usage. In fact according to Localytics nearly 62 percent of applications will only be used 11 times or less. What this means is that there is a glut in the app market that is struggling to retain its users. This, in turn, has lead to a slowdown in the app market with investors hesitating to bet on new apps and programmers daunted by the high barriers to app adoption both for the consumer and the enterprise.

In this economy where capturing the attention of new consumers is next to impossible and retaining them is a further herculean task your app needs to be perfect right out the gate.  Here are some things to keep in mind whether you are deploying pre-built apps or building your own.

1.  Getting attention is an uphill battle and always will be: App adoption is heavily skewed towards the top. The apps that become popular, stay popular and simply getting discovered can seem like a pipe dream. It’s a vicious cycle, the apps that get featured are the ones with the most downloads but you need to get featured to get downloads. Marketing your app in a store is also a challenge as you will only be able to use screenshots and texts to convince people to download. This is where change management and marketing by your internal process/technology team is so important.  Your reviews are also likely to skew negative, as typically a negative experience is more likely to motivate someone to write a review, so you’ll have to put in more effort to cultivate a great review. The point of this is that you will have just one shot. If your app isn’t satisfactory the consumer can and will drop you and all the effort that it takes to just get to the point where you will have the capacity to prove your app will have been wasted.  Chances of getting them to try the app again after abandonment is slim to none; so remember, LAUNCH IS CRUCIAL!

2.  Make it usable: This, of course, goes without saying, but your app can not be buggy or broken by the time it’s ready for usage.  It can also not be the desktop app only available via a mobile device.  There may be flaws that will crop up and need to be ironed out, but if basic functionality isn’t there it’ll be dead on arrival. That having been said there are factors to consider beyond this. Every mobile phone on the market today has some bugs. Be sure to test your execution process across a number of platforms to avoid download failures. Not only will they cost you adoption but it’ll hurt the reputation of your app and overall system initiative if it is found to be inoperable on certain models.

3.  Make the download process easier: The biggest difference between apps and websites from a business POV is the level of difficulty in accessing them. The download and setup process represents a major convenience barrier when it comes to apps. that websites do not have to deal with. This is why despite the fact that the app market is only 6 years old compared to the 20 of websites, it’s easier to build a business online since the consumer will browse far more sites than they’ll ever download apps. Going forward, easing this barrier may just be the industry’s most important task. Google is taking steps in this direction with the advent of Instant Apps, which will simplify the launching process to just one click of URL. Another way to offset some of this damage is to provide incentives to consumers willing to share and recommend your app with others in the workforce.

4. UI vs UX.Despite often being lumped together and both starting with a U, User interface and User Experience are two different things. UI is the look of the app, it’s primary purpose is to be visually appealing to the customer. No one wants to download an ugly app. UX, on the other hand, is all about ease of use. UI is not to be ignored, especially for a new app still looking to grab eyeballs. Good aesthetics go a long way towards attracting new users, but to retain their favor past the initial download you need a good UX as well. A good UX must provide the user with a sense of flow. Going from step to step should be easy, users should never have to search for more information . Users should not have to repeatedly input relevant information, the app should be able to predict their intent and provide useful suggestions. A great way to fine tune your UI and UX is A/B testing. In essence, you put out to versions of your app with different UI and UX and see which one is more satisfactory to the consumer. Good UX is vital not only for consumer apps but also if you intend to create business software. An enterprise application with well thought out UX can improve workforce satisfaction, reduce error rates, reduce the need for training and thus increase efficiency.

This can not be stressed enough, the app market is crowded and it is not friendly to newcomers. Your best bet is to deliver quality and to deliver it fast. Make an app that will make people want to use it, shift your metrics from adoption to addiction and drive further addiction by making them glad to keep using it.

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We implement modules; We DEPLOY experiences! 3 Ways To Success

One of the things that I see daily in working with enterprises around the world is that we still aren't doing a great job of differentiating between vendor modules that we IMPLEMENT and the experiences we DEPLOY to the workforce.  

There is a HUGE difference between implementation of modules and deployment of experiences and something that is very important for us all to understand.
— Jason Averbook

As we work with our various software vendors that make up our HR/workforce technology solution, we often are looking at modules from here and module from there to solve a business demand.  While we are doing a great job (and spend too much time many times analyzing a feature here versus a feature there), the biggest mistake we can make is to not explore the difference between a module and an experience and how we can guarantee success and return on our investment.  

I love these definitions to help make my point:

MODULE - a set of standardized parts or independent units that can be used to construct a more complex structure

EXPERIENCE - a complex set of pieces and parts put together to create a seamless physical, emotional and perception.

You see, based on the above definitions; modules are a component of an experience (worker experience in this case); but do not make up the entire component.  To create the experience we need to take:

REINVENTION + Creativity + Strategy + Module + Process + Change + Culture + Workforce Listening + Personalization + Demographic + Connectedness + Data Outcomes = Experience

Where many organizations stop is simply thinking about implementing a MODULE and hoping that it sticks.  Below are a few tips I have to make sure this doesn't happen and I LOVE TALKING to organizations of all types; vendors and enterprises about this, so please don't hesitate to reach out to jasonaverbook@gmail.com or jason@jasonaverbook.com with questions.

1) A software vendors job is to create the complex module required to meet the technical requirements of a complex business process.  The software vendors job is not necessarily responsible for making sure that this module integrates into the rest of your enterprise HR/workforce technology strategy; your enterprise data strategy or making sure that your organization truly needs and knows the value of such a module.  Once again, module + the other pieces mentioned above = successful deployment.  Don't blame the software vendor and it should always be assumed that you can never just take a module, have a vendor or partner put it in, and assume it will be successful.  It is like a heart replacement where you finally get a new heart, drop it in, and don't connect it to anything. REJECTION occurs which is more than likely what you will experience.

2) An experience is what the workforce (employees, managers, applicants, retirees) are looking for.  They are not looking to jump from module to module; doing pieces and parts here and there.  It doesn't happen with consumer apps and CANNOT happen in business apps.  If it does, organ rejection will occur and your investment will start to bleed out before it begins.  You must map your overall workforce experience, WHICH WILL INCLUDE MULTIPLE VENDORS (GUARANTEED) and think about what this will look like before you begin a deployment.  If you do not, you will implement a module not deploy an experience and will more than likely be doing nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig process.

3) Organizations must realize that an experience crosses all of the artificial silos that we have created within the enterprise and the workforce could care less about our departments such as Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Payroll, HR Operations, HR Technology, COE's, etc.  This is like checking into a hotel and having to check into each of the departments such as the gift shop, the room, the spa, the housekeeping function, the concierge all separately.  Imagine that experience; time to look elsewhere.  Silos must be broken down in ALL CASES when deploying experiences and if this cant happen, you might as well stop spending the money.  Governance and overall collaboration amongst every part of the organization that touches the experience and journey is required before implementation of the module and deployment of the experience begin.  If you don't have this, do it NOW!

This is just a start but wanted to get this out there.  I see SO MANY implementations that are missing the experiential factor only realizing that they are going to have to go back and do it later.  In the world I watch, later almost always equals never and never equals time to shop for a new vendor (or in other words, the circle continues) without HR making progress.  

We live in an era with the best technology available to us that has ever existed. Lets not waste it team!
— Jason Averbook

Another infusion of knowledge...

Lots of building required to move from module to experience for the workforce!

Lots of building required to move from module to experience for the workforce!

7 Steps Towards a The Start of A Digital Workforce Transformation

I am constantly thinking about this concept of Digital Transformation that the world is going through on a daily basis.  Whether it be Uber, how we keep track of scoring at our kids games or how we get "serviced" through tweeting to service bots from our service providers like airlines; digital transformation of the world is fully upon us and now is the time (and has been for a bit) for all of HR to think about the future of a digitally transformed workforce.  The problem is, this is a ton of business jargon that many don't know what it means.  Here are a few thoughts based on the 7 key steps to transformation from a great article I read doing research for one of my clients on the topic (article here).

  1. Be unreasonably aspirational - for HR, look at building quick wins and market the heck out of the value that is being created.  A digital transformation is not a long systems deployment (while that might be part of it), value has to be created and communicated frequently and through multiple channels.  Push the boundaries, find quick wins, break glass and show the organization you are serious about the initiative.
  2. Acquire new capabilities - in this area your choices are buy, build, have or outsource.  To truly tackle digital transformation for the HR function, you will need to buy talent and outsource to some strategic consultancies.  It takes a village to think through all of the options and building the strategy and plan requires "groupthink" - get started now!
  3. "Ring Fence" and cultivate talent - you have to have a group within the HR function that is thinking about transformation and transformation mostly.  If you are trying to do this at night or in your space time it simply will fail.  Innovation Labs are a great way to do this.  I am currently working with a client to put in place an innovation lab within their HR function and the success fencing this group off is highly successful.  Not everyone has the chops to think transformational; find your group and grow it, whether they come from HR or not.
  4. Challenge Constantly - Ask yourself, are we really transforming and disrupting or simply placing new technology on top of old stuff.  I call this "lipstick on a pig".  This is not the vendors job, this is your job and your responsibility.  Don't leave it up to a single person, get your team of transformation and disruption experts together to constantly ask "why are we doing this?" and "is it still relevant?" and "will it be relevant in a year?".  You HAVE to do this and NOW, stop wasting time and money on things that are not driving your future.
  5. Be Quick and Data Driven - With every one of my clients, I tie back to data and outcomes first.  What are we trying to measure and based on that, who do those measures matter to?The concept of quick requires quick wins as mentioned earlier but also we must train our organizations to think about not "release cycles" from vendors or "support models" from vendors but 52, 1 week sprints and what we are accomplishing from the eyes of the workforce each week.  These are massive "mind shifts" for most organizations but the thinking has to start NOW!
  6. Follow the Money - We can measure money and we are getting closer to measuring the true value of people.  Your initiatives for transformation have to focus on both efficiency and effectiveness of the organization; but more and more organizations are realizing saving their way to the future is not the way to go.  The true market leaders are spending to create value which means being able to tie investments to customer outcomes, revenues, etc.  A transformation initiative that is not tied to generating effectiveness in terms of business outcomes is not a initiative, it is a task mostly designed to create efficiency for the HR function only.
  7. Be Obsessed with the Customer - In this case, the workforce.  OMG, if I see one more organization design processes and think about transforming work without having the workforce part of the process, I am going to write a new book :).  The entire focus of our business process transformation, marketing management and how we communicate and collaborate with the workforce is the wild, wild west today that one single vendor will NEVER solve for you. They will help but not solve.  You MUST take the time to stop thinking about modules and think about experiences.  Stop thinking about names of departments within HR and start thinking about experiences and you must stop thinking that adding a new piece of functionality alone will change the workforce experience.  It is a massive undertaking that we as an industry have ignored for decades, partly waiting for IT and partly waiting for the tech to catch up.  Guess what, it is here!

Digital Transformation, while a buzzword, is real.  It is not a vendor selection, it is not an upgrade. It is not the cloud.  All of these help, but what it is is a true strategy as to how organizations work today and into the future.  While we spent the last decade trying to decide on a HR technology strategy, the time has come to blow that up and realize the people, processes and technology we need to be seen as successful today require the next level of thinking and disruption.  Enjoy, here we go!

Another infusion of knowledge...

Minneapolis HR Tech Expo - LEHRN

I am so excited to be MC'ing this years LEHRN Tech Expo on April 28th in Minneapolis.  I guarantee it will be worth your while to attend with more vendors, more sessions and of course, more takeaways that you an put to work immediately after the event.

Take a watch of the video below!  Cant wait to see you and work with you all.

Another infusion of knowledge...