Mobility

theEMPLOYEEapp: A push content app that is underwhelming

theEMPLOYEEapp has aspirations to be the enterprise solution for pushing documents to mobile workers but need a shove in a few key areas.

TheEMPLOYEEapp ($5.95 per user/per month) from APPrise mobile attempts target companies that want to push documents to its employees. It supports iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. There's a cloud backend where the documents reside in what appears to be a simple content management system (CMS).

I got free access to a TheEMPLOYEEapp demo environment for review purposes.

Inside theEMPLOYEEapp

My first recommendation for theEMPLOYEEapp is to get rid of the clip art pictures at the top of the home screen. It's 2015 and mobile apps are much more minimalist. At the least, give users an opportunity to turn the clip art off.

When you get past the distracting clip art, the home screen (at least in my demo environment) is split between a folder for News of the Day and About Us. Figure A shows the home screen:

figure-a-theemployeeapp1.jpg
theEmployeeApp home screen
Image: Will Kelly

Figure A

I was able to view a sample document using a simple reader. There were no annotation tools. Options are available appear to be highlighting hyperlinks in the document. You can also print a document, email a link to the document, and save the document for offline use.

The demo environment doesn't really sell the platform to me and I've experienced more than my share of demo environments for the apps that theEMPLOYEEapp would be competing against in the market.

theEMPLOYEEapp, SharePoint, and other cloud platforms

Two points in the app's favor are an application programming interface (API) and Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), according to the company. ADFS reigns as one of the most popular user management platforms on the market today.

If theEMPLOYEEapp wants SharePoint to be part of their story as the press release mentions, there are developers like Colligo and harmon.ie who make the bulk of their revenue off mobilizing SharePoint sites and content with their robust and feature-rich mobile apps. Another thing for any vendor who is mobilizing SharePoint, not just theEMPLOYEEapp is that Satya Nadella and Microsoft have yet to really speak much let alone take major actions around SharePoint and mobility. There's still room for outliers who can mobilize SharePoint. It's just that those outliers need to have game. This app doesn't have game or at least it's not showing it.

In fact, APPrise mobile may want to consider putting more energy into their recently released API as way to differentiate theEMPLOYEEapp in the competitive enterprise mobile app world lest this app fade away into obscurity like so many others in the app stores.

theEMPLOYEEapp and BYOD

Like so many other mobile apps out on the market, theEMPLOYEEapp has its own "me too" spin on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) because the app is in the cloud. Unfortunately, the app doesn't appear to have much to offer a BYOD initiative. The role it is aiming to take is held by more secure and feature rich mobile collaboration apps.

Underwhelming app

Typing theEMPLOYEEApp became excruciating while writing this article because the all caps (yelling) rang hollow after such an underwhelming experience. One thing , I've I've learned while writing for TechRepublic is the importance of the mobile app's story (branding and marketing). This app's story is suffering because of the underwhelming experience the mobile delivers. When you read the web site, there's an FAQ reference to the EMPLOYEEapp being ready in less than a month from subscription signing. There's also references to an application programming interface (API) in the news release that their PR person included in my app. Both areas have the potential to be a compelling story and a differentiator for the app.

However, unless theEMPLOYEEapp can get a compelling story together the app will flounder against more mature, feature rich, and crisp competitors.

On the technology side, the demo environment presents a rather simplistic app fine for 2012 but not for 2015. A company standardized on Office 365, SharePoint, Wrike, Huddle, or another collaboration platform would be better served using the platform's app or apps from Colligo or harmon.ie.

While the optimist in me hopes there's potential hiding inside theEMPLOYEEapp, the app really needs a shove in some key areas especially features, API, and security. I can't recommend theEMPLOYEEapp.

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About Will Kelly

Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

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