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The Enviance Approach to EHS Mobile Applications

Enviance Approach to EHS Mobile.jpeg

2,000,000. That's the roughly number of apps in the Apple Store as of March 2017. The Google Play Store has slightly more than that. Mobile applications have become the undisputed mechanism of choice for information delivery and collection.

 

The fact is, people expect to be able to access their data and do their job whenever - and wherever - they want. For the past few years, “mobile first” has been a slogan that calls for software companies to focus first on their mobile strategy and development.

Given this reality, prospective customers and analysts want to know: what is our mobile application “story”? Do we have strong support for mobile, offline functionality?

 

In fact, we have - with more than 10 mobile-capable apps as of this writing. However, we don’t build our apps as "native" apps (built for just a single platform). Instead, we use the latest web and browser technologies to develop and deploy apps using the proven SaaS model.

EHS Mobile Applications: Useability & Power

As modern, mobile web applications, Enviance apps are built for use on mobile devices and are capable of operating while offline. Our apps use the latest standards provided by mobile browsers for local application data storage and caching, allowing them to run without a server connection. Data can be entered offline, saved, and then synched to the Enviance SaaS platform when a network connection is available again. Enviance apps can also connect to your device’s GPS and camera in order to gather location info, pictures, and other documents.

 

With each release of the latest browser platforms, the mobile web platform has been making big strides in its capabilities, reaching near feature parity with native apps. I encourage you to watch a recent presentation by Google VP of Product Management, Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, on the advancements that have been made in just the past year with the speed, capabilities, and user experience of the mobile web platform.

 

No doubt, native apps still enjoy a raw performance advantage over mobile web apps. Being written directly against a device's APIs, as opposed to being hosted within a browser, means that native apps enjoy faster runtime performance than web apps. That being said, Enviance apps aren’t games or VR applications; they are data collection and visualization applications designed to help users perform their jobs safely and efficiently out in the field or in the office. In these situations, squeezing every drop of graphics performance out of a device is not as critical. The efficient use of network connectivity when needed is far more important to overall performance and a key consideration for any app, native or otherwise.

 

Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

 

In its 2016 Executive Enterprise Mobility Report, Apperian found that enterprises were facing three main challenges with increased adoption of mobile applications:

 

  • Supporting the diversity of a multi-OS, multi-device, multi-platform landscape
  • Managing the security of all enterprise devices
  • Maintaining visibility into the use of those devices within the bounds of enterprise policies

 

Similarly, the Forrester Mobile Vision 2020 survey found that decentralized application distribution, monitoring, and policy enforcement was becoming an increasing concern for enterprises, with 34% of the surveyed decision makers citing the sheer number of devices as one of their top five management challenges.

 

Enviance believes that the web-based Enviance apps platform brings a clear advantage in TCO for our customers.

 

The Enviance apps’ web-native approach requires no active deployment by customers' IT group or users. Native apps can be relatively easily updated through an app store, but oftentimes corporate IT doesn’t allow this, either via device policies or firewall/proxy rules that block access to external stores. In contrast, Enviance apps are automatically updated every time they start, as long as web access is available. There is no separate installation step on mobile or desktop devices. While Enviance apps run within the device’s browser, shortcut icons can still be placed on the home screen to launch the user straight into the application. This combination of automatic, any-time updates and native-like application presence is ideal for easily deploying these applications to large user bases.

 

Deploying Enviance apps is perhaps the easiest step in the enterprise application support life cycle. The next step is typically training. However, unlike native apps, Enviance apps use the same UI and behavior on every form factor and device, from iOS to Android to the desktop. This is not to say that our apps aren't responsive to different form factors - they will always make the best possible use of the screen size and layout of the device they’re running on. According to the Forrester survey, 99% of information workers still use a desktop or laptop at least once a week and 49% of information workers use at least three devices weekly. In the enterprise, the personal computer is not dead, and supporting it, as well as mobile devices, in a consistent manner improves worker performance. Enviance apps are designed for consistency in layout and flow across all devices in order to significantly streamline the learning burden for app users and reduce training costs for the enterprise.

 

Security

 

Needless to say, security is a critical concern for all enterprises and their IT teams. IT is reluctant to install applications on any device that has connectivity to a corporate network or that may be used to store company data – and rightly so. Who is to know in what ways a native application may be accessing the device? App store approval policies give some assurance in this area, but they may not be sufficient.

Enviance apps run in the JavaScript sandbox of a device’s included web browser and their security is arguably stronger than the security of a native application. Native applications are subject to security gaps caused by the individual app developer, whereas Enviance apps are restricted to what the web browser is allowed to do on the device.

 

Value

 

Finally, the obvious efficiency of development resources should be acknowledged. Being able to develop for one stack, and one platform, allows Enviance to focus our resources on delivering value to our customers, as opposed to spreading those resources across multiple native platform development efforts.

 

In summary, the needs of our enterprise customers when it comes to mobile software are not the same as the majority of app users who spend their time primarily on games, entertainment, and social media applications. Enterprise software must maximize value, minimize total cost of ownership (which can include training), and meet strong standards for security. At Enviance, we believe that the modern mobile web is the right platform upon which to meet these customer needs.

 

If you would like to learn more about our EHS software solutions, please contact our business development manager, Stacey Huber, or request a free demo.

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