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Chapter 2

App Innovation

Innovation, being a very broad concept, can happen at all levels and in all areas of an organization. One thing most of these areas have in common is the use of business applications.

Where the platforms and infrastructure underlying these applications might be the domain of IT, business applications are used directly by non-IT personnel. From the people performing your core business to HR, Sales, or Marketing; all of them probably use some business applications.

Business applications, then, are an important focus area for innovation. By improving these applications, and enhancing them with new technologies, the daily work of your employees can be made easier, more efficient, and less complicated.

App Innovation requires a people-centered approach, where input from employees ‘on the floor’ is invaluable for determining what areas need attention, and for guiding what changes should be made. Every innovation should remove barriers, improve efficiency, or reduce complexity for these employees.

Why do you need app innovation?

For app innovation, like for any type of innovation, the underlying basic driver is the need to give the organization an edge over its competitors. If someone else can produce better, cheaper, more efficient, and in a more sustainable way, chances are your market share is going to decrease.

However, there are many ways to go about creating a competitive edge, and as business applications are focused on people, so app innovation should have a people focus too. The drivers for app innovation are rooted in the needs and wants of the people using your business applications. Improving their work environment allows them to do more and better work, thus creating more business value.

We regularly see news articles about the high administrative burden placed upon people working in healthcare, law enforcement, and other sectors. These people worry that the core tasks of their work cannot be performed adequately anymore due to the high amount of administrative tasks they have to do. App innovation could be one way of reducing this burden; by streamlining the administrative actions in better applications, time can be saved, allowing more time for actual work.

The shortage of workers in different sectors too, can be somewhat alleviated with App Innovation; by automating more work, and optimizing applications to suit workers’ activities, more useful work can be done by the same amount of people without overloading them.

Microsoft and Ipsos have conducted an extensive study to determine the areas where app innovation is most needed at this time.

In this study, they found that the most pressing needs and wants for app innovation were not centred around breakthrough technology or radical changes. Rather, the top needs include automatically securing data, eliminating repetitive input and leveraging data for more informed interactions. These are all very practical needs, reflecting a clear desire for improving the way work is done, and enabling people to focus on their core tasks rather than administration.

The top 7 needs for app experiences, as researched by Microsoft

  • People want any sensitive data they touch to be secured automatically.
  • People don’t want to input the same information into different apps.
  • People want access to all the data they need in one place so they can have more informed interactions.
  • People want to have meaningful conversations with others.
  • People want to work on multiple tasks and projects from within a single, integrated app.
  • People want to streamline tasks so they have more time to contribute their unique value.
  • People want to work with important information securely from anywhere, on any device.