The concept of a mobile compliance program is in the early stages but we are starting to see companies talk about mobile codes of conduct. But what does mobile really mean? Is it a website that can be viewed on a computer, tablet or mobile device? Is it an app?
Over the next few weeks we will provide insight into taking your compliance program mobile. However, today we are going to highlight mobile compliance as it relates to an application and website.
While I was attending the recent SCCE conference in Vegas I sat in on the Uber session on mobile first code of conduct. I was getting the sense, based on some of the questions I heard and attendees talking to their neighbors, that attendees were thinking of an app on a mobile device. The concept of an app on a mobile device is only part of what mobile means. Companies can set up a website that is easily viewed on a computer, tablet (Android powered and iPads) and mobile devices (mobile phones). The website is built using a responsive design which reacts to the user’s screen size, platform it is operating on and orientation. The website looks great on any device that an employee would visit the website on.
The process of building a website has been made easier recently through publishing platforms that act as a template builder for a website. With these publishing platforms you do not need to know how to write code. Rather someone needs to understand how to use the functionality of the platform to update, add or delete content. WordPress is an example of one of the platforms but there are many out there. There are many consultants that can provide assistance with theses types of publishing platforms.
The website itself can be setup behind your company firewall. Your IT department will be able to grant access to anyone or a subset of people depending on what is appropriate for your organization. In addition, you could have two websites, one internal facing and one external facing, that mirror each other but limits the information shared with the general public.
There are maintenance issues that need to be considered for websites but they are not as complex and involved as those related to an app. Depending on the platform you choose to publish your website on there may be small updates that are needed throughout the year.
Finally, you can create an app icon for the mobile device or tablet. The app icon acts as an alternative vehicle for employees to access the website rather than opening a browser on their mobile device and typing the url or tapping a favorite link.
An app is software that is downloaded, stored and run locally on a device. The app, because it can store content locally on the mobile device, allows information to be accessible, in some cases, without an internet connection and it can pull data, similar to a website. The app can function like any software allowing for workflow (ie. messages and approval processes) to operate inside the app while using the mobile phones built-in technologies such as geo-physical location.
There are many different operating systems involved with mobile phones including iOS (Apple), Android, Blackberry and more. I will touch on two here: iOS and Android. It is important to know that not all devices from a single manufacturer run the same operating system thus an app may not work across different devices from the same manufacturer. The app may have to be programmed twice to operate on Apple and Android devices which can duplicate the cost of a project for those companies using more than one type of mobile device (ie. iPhones and Android phones). However, a hybrid app can be used to eliminate the duplicate work so that only one app code is needed, to a certain degree. All this can add to the complexity of app maintenance.
Apps can be built so that content inside the app is updated via a backend system or the content can be built inside the app. With a backend system, the content can refresh without the need to rebuild and distribute a new, updated app. You can add, delete, and edit policies and/or training materials with the app being up-to-date for anyone who opens the app. If the content is built inside the app typically a new app is needed and an employee would need to download an updated app or the app would need to be pushed to the device (more on this next week).
So which is better?
Each of the options have pros and cons that should be considered before you take your program mobile. Additionally, there is no reason to think that a mobile website and an app are mutually exclusive as this depends on how you want to drive engagement or share information. If you are looking to provide access to your program content to anyone a website may be for you. Alternatively, if you are truly looking for an interactive experience (similar to a gaming environment or software experience) an app may be the way to go.
Mobile website advantages:
- More easily available, just type the url (however with a Mobile Device Management or Mobile Application Management tool the app can be automatically pushed to a device and just needs to be opened on the device)
- Can be developed easier (lots of platforms already exist)
- Less costly both to develop and maintain (one code)
- Can use the mobile device’s native functionality (ie. Gps for Just-in-Time training/communications, camera to take picture of receipt/gift to include with gift submission, interact with calendar)
- Can customize content delivered based on user profile (ie. Sales seeing content only for sales department)
- Some/All content is available even when there is no wifi/cell signal to connect (on a plane, remote field service people, interior room of a building)
Tune in next week when we discuss how to distribute an app as part of our taking your compliance program mobile series.