A corporate intranet may make sense for a sprawling organization, but mobile small business workers often lack the time and, frankly, the enthusiasm, to log in and catch up on what's going on back at the office. On-the-go employees need important notices, updates, and workplace communications to come to them in a timely manner.
New York City-based software firm, AppRise Mobile, has cracked the mobile intranet code with its platform, TheEmployeeApp, said its CEO and founder, Jeff Corbin. The secret, in part, is to wholeheartedly embrace smartphones and tablets instead of attempting to shoehorn PC-based software solutions into mobile experiences.
"The user experience of legacy PC solutions is going to be lousy in a mobile environment," Corbin told Small Business Computing during a recent interview.
Business Intranet: PCs Are Out, Mobile Is In
AppRise Mobile's approach to business software aligns with both the consumerization of IT trend and the explosive growth of mobile device use in the workplace, which is increasingly defined by an employee's current location, not where her physical office is located. "I really believe that in the near term, people aren't going to use PCs as we know them anymore," he said.
The TheEmployeeApp, like AppRise's other offerings, were developed to deliver a "native, mobile-first" experience that lets workers get caught up in mere moments from anywhere—on the bus, the train or while awaiting a flight—just by tapping their devices' touchscreens. No more cracking open a laptop or rushing to a desktop PC.
"Everyone already has these devices," observed Corbin. "And they're only going to get more powerful." Fortunately for small business owners, that power means that they can leverage enterprise-grade content-management and internal-communications capabilities to provide a professional, albeit virtual, work environment and give their employees the tools and knowledge they need to thrive, he said.
An Intranet in the Palm of Your Hand
TheEmployeeApp, available for Apple iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Google's Android mobile operating system (OS), is an employee communications app that addresses one of the biggest failings of corporate intranet solutions: mobile engagement. The app lets SMBs or groups within larger businesses to organize and distribute content and information in a novice-friendly, mobile-optimized manner.
Businesses can organize their content using a familiar folder, sub-folder structure. For example, a company could create a main folder called Human Resources and label its subfolders Benefits, Payroll and so on.
Employers and managers can simply upload new content, and it gets pushed to employees' handsets and tablets. TheEmployeeApp supports calendar events, documents and video files (.mp4). Opt-in push notifications and pop-ups on the iPhone home screen alert users to the presence of new content.
Employees don't have to root around to find newly added content. Corbin said "a blue dot notifier" helps users zero-in on the latest updates. Users just tap on the new content to view it directly on their iPhones, iPads or Android devices. Amazon's professional cloud-based storage keeps content secure.
Formerly a tool used by large enterprises—more than 250,000 workers around the world have access to the technology—TheEmployeeApp is now available for businesses of all sizes under a new self-service, pay-as-you go model, said Corbin.
"Businesses of all sizes have been looking for a solution that is reasonably priced, doesn't take a long time to implement and keeps IT involvement to a minimum," he said in a statement. "Our self-service app solution allows any organization, large or small, to have a native app for iPhones, iPads and Android mobile devices."
TheEmployeeApp is available now and costs $5.95 per month per employee when billed annually ($71.40 total), or $7.95 per employee on a month-to-month basis.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE
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