Users rely on online services being accessible anytime of the day from anywhere in the world. These days, users also view access to online services from their smart phones and tablets as an unalienable right. Whether it’s a busy executive trying to squeeze in that one last email before the flight attendant asks him to switch off his phone or a multi-tasking mom-preneur approving an expense report from her iPad while taking her kids for ice cream (both of which have happened to me), our users’ lifestyles demand 24/7 service from any device.
These expectations of access from any device, anytime, anywhere, pose some interesting challenges for SaaS, PaaS vendors. Simply put, they raise the bar.
“Service anytime and anywhere” has been a key tenet for the SaaS, PaaS industry since its inception. Over the years, vendors have made significant investments in their technology, infrastructure and operations to improve the availability, scalability and resiliency of their services so they can be accessed via the web 24/7. High availability architectures deployed across multiple data centers combined with advanced monitoring systems and operational rigor are essential for delivering on this promise. But to effectively deliver on the “any device” promise, SaaS and PaaS vendors now have to adapt their architecture, product development, and delivery processes to meet user needs and expectations.
Considerations Before Launching a SaaS Mobile Offering
As a vendor enabling the “any device” capability, here is a set of key questions to consider before you embark on the journey of making your service truly ubiquitous. Feel free to add additional suggestions in the comments below.
- What features do customers need most access to from their mobile device?
- Which product workflows have to be tweaked to make them mobile friendly?
- Do you need to leap ahead and build a native client? Or will a web optimized mobile version suffice?
- How can you leverage device-specific sensors to further enrich the user experience?
- Do you need to rethink your UX design to keep users engaged on a mobile device?
- What is the current service oriented architecture strategy for your platform? Does the architecture lend itself well to add on these additional service APIs required for mobile access?
- Do we need to augment the current architecture with middleware solutions?
- How do you scale your development, build and browser certification processes?
- What are the adaptations needed in your service delivery and support processes to help customers resolve access issues from any device?
I recently attended a conference held by Intuit on designing and delivering compelling mobile solutions. Several distinguished technologists from industry stalwarts including eBay, Netflix and Qualcomm, shared their ideas and best practices. With the near-saturation of smart phone technology and rapid adoption of tablets in enterprises for improved productivity, several platform vendors are evolving their strategy to meet the demand. Needless to say, the next decade holds much promise for mobile platforms and solutions that further improve work productivity.