Quickly-built enterprise mobile apps can bypass IT

Enterprises have resigned themselves to the reality that employees want to bring their own mobile device to work and that business units are purchasing their own IT to solve business problems. Now they may have to accept that users are going to be building their own mobile apps.

Vancouver-based ScoopMAE recently launched its Scoop 4.0 Enterprise Mobility Platform that enables operations personnel to quickly build mobile apps for use by field workers so they can quickly collect data and bring it into a centralized cloud platform.

Babak Sardary, CEO and co-founder of ScoopMAE (“MAE” stands for mobile awareness and engagement), said the genesis of the company came from his own personal experience in the field and seeing how many different tools workers had to manage to input data. Scoop helps non-IT staff easily and quickly build mobile apps without the need to hire developers or embark on lengthy, expensive projects to create infrastructure that will also be costly to deploy and maintain, he said.

But the ScoopMAE platform is not just about providing mobile apps, said Sardary. Back at the office, managers are able run reports by cross-linking and analyzing data pulled from multiple sources to access data from legacy systems or workers in the field with the support of ScoopMAE’s cloud infrastructure. The use cases are what you would expect: field ticketing and support requests, inspection and audits of equipment for sectors such as energy and mining, and appraisals and application forms for insurance inspections.

Sardary said ScoopMAE provides a lot of the functionality that otherwise would met by complex enterprise IT system by breaking down various workflows and tasks into Scoop apps that are needed by the mobile work force. It does mean a customer is dependent on ScoopMAE’s cloud infrastructure, however.

While ScoopMAE focuses on creating apps to gather information from the field, theEMPLOYEEapp, which launched last year, is aimed at corporate and internal communications professionals. Company CEO Jeff Corbin comes from a communications background, and saw an opportunity to facilitate distribution of corporate information residing within intranets to small screens such as smartphones and tablets. It just introduced an API and ability to integrate with Microsoft’s Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) for user management and single sign on (SSO).

Corbin said theEMPLOYEEapp makes it easy for non-IT and tech-savvy individuals to be able to implement a mobile employee communications program and to distribute company content easily through the small screens of iPhones, iPads and Android devices. As a native app, it also allows for push notifications and the broadcasting of important information and messages directly to the home screens of these devices.

Enterprises have a great deal invested in their existing intranets, said Corbin, whether they are Sharepoint systems or custom-built legacy systems. “The user experience on mobile devices is lousy.” They could migrate to a web-based platform that supports mobile, but it is a long process. The idea behind theEMPLOYEEapp is to bring millions of Intranet documents to the smartphone screen and make them usable. “We are able to take content and optimize it.”

He said theEMPLOYEEapp is being sold directly to corporate and internal communications and HR staff, but IT are part of the process, primarily when it comes to implementing security and observing best practices established by the organization. “That’s who’s coming to use to get started. Once we show them the solution and they understand ease of implementation, they are bringing in IT.”

Corbin said adoption of technologies like theEMPLOYEEapp reflects a shift in IT playing more a supportive and consultative role within the enterprise. “It’s a really interesting time in terms of the role IT plays.”

Like ScoopMAE, theEMPPLOYEEapp can be used with IOs and Android devices, and even a Kindle edition is in the works, but Corbin said there’s been no demand for Blackberry from customers, once the workhorse of the mobile enterprise.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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