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Mobile apps: A little background

There’s a great deal penned and typed about the potential for apps, in tandem with the rise of “mobile devices” to disrupt various industries, sectors and professions. A quick Google search of “[given industry] + apps + disruption” is likely to pull off some editorial piece or other about how apps are “radically reshaping” (or some variant thereof) the way that particular sector does business or operates.

People can see the truth in this, of course. “Mobilization” is a real trend that is affecting how businesses operate internally and in how they market and sell to both other businesses and consumers; the mass adoption of new hardware changes things for everyone.

The problem arises when we start to talk about how these devices and apps can change the way corporate strategy works. Here usual rules of tech journalism don’t necessarily apply. Consumer market trends don’t necessarily tell us a lot about the adoption of new technology in the corporate space, as the latter has its own unique set of requirements.

As we know, for Human Resources, plotting out how exactly mobile devices are going to shake things up can be murky.

Despite increasingly important employee activism. HR strategy relating to Compliance and Learning & Development, is generally led from the top. As a result, a lot depends on how quickly HR Directors, managers and staff in general will respond, and fundamentally what their priorities are at the time.

This presents a double-edged sword. It means Directors will have to take potentially career-making (or breaking) risks – the onus is firmly on them. How many people do you know who will take these risks? On the flipside, it means this potential disruption that could be caused by Bring-Your-Own-Device and similar schemes can be lessened by clever strategies that take into account what employees themselves want.

So that aside, how exactly do app developers working with HR departments, see mobile apps influencing policy and strategy? There are two areas we’ve identified.

  1. Compliance

One of the most obvious areas is in compliance. Coordinating correct policy and procedure for all employees can be a nightmare, as you are probably already aware. From a legal point of view there’s a clear need for companies to make sure employees have already been made aware of critical areas, such as health and safety as an example.

This is where tablets can play a key role. Employees as consumers are accustomed to these and e-reading devices for general reading. As a result, apps and mobile devices represent a way for HR departments to deliver compliance materials to their employees in a more readable format, improving employee engagement along the way.

There’s an added benefit as well. As apps are increasingly able to integrate with existing Learning Management Systems (LMS), management can track the level of engagement with these documents amongst certain cohorts. For example, amongst new-hires. We’ve found that the Food & Beverage industry is particularly receptive to these sorts of features, given how critical compliance materials are to their on-boarding process of new recruits.

  1. Internal Training Materials

Medium sized and larger companies, often possess a great amount of internal training materials. Some of these are simple publications, others are videos, often sitting on out-dated removable storage formats like CD-ROMs.

Apps again present a neat way of dealing with this problem by providing HR teams with a central repository for all internal training materials, including video. Categorization methods mean that, when combined with an intuitive UI, such content becomes more easily accessible to employees. Much like with compliance materials, what can be achieved here ultimately comes down to making internal HR processes more streamlined for employees and more easily monitored by HR teams themselves. The great beauty in apps, much like any software, is in their scalability. In this case all of the above can be handled via a single app framework, with access control limiting who gets to see what. Ultimately, it’s about streamlining existing processes.

By Nicholas Kleanthous 

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