Killer Apps

by Brian Katz on September 12, 2012 · 3 comments

I was asked today what I thought the killer application would be that would drive enterprises to adopt tablets faster. I was participating in a Twitter chat that was focused on tablets and the business and while we talked about content creation, security of the data, and crapplications, we ended with the question about the killer app for enterprise adoption. The problem was nobody really got it, it’s not about a killer app unless you are talking about a single purpose device.

Enterprises don’t look at killer apps any more. There just isn’t one. An enterprise that wants to succeed, whether it is a phone, a tablet, a laptop or a desktop doesn’t look for a killer app, they look to create a killer ecosystem. A killer ecosystem is one that employees love to use; it drives efficiency and morale. It’s due to the fact that it allows the tools that the user has, to get out of the way when they are getting things accomplished.

This all stems from the fact that we need to get rid of crapplications. No one likes to use them and it is part of what leads users to go the BYOD (Bring your own device) route. The way we build a great app is by focusing on the user. We look at what they are trying to get done and we design our app around that. We build our whole enterprise ecosystem so that the data that we have is free. People can access it with the appropriate access rights (identity) by using an app that we built that focuses on delivering the need. Our app doesn’t have 1000 functions, it has what the users needs most of the time to get their work done, no more and no less.

As we start building these great apps we should realize that the user does more than one thing. We have to make a choice now, do we go with creating focused apps that can work together and pass data back and forth or do we work on the monolithic crapplications that every user hates to use and can rarely remember all the functions that are required for them to use them correctly. If you are a normal enterprise, chances are you will have to fight against nature to build the app and avoid the crapplication. The good news about building apps is that you aren’t really doing it for just one device, a focused app can be translated from a tablet to a desktop and be just as successful, because it allows the user to get their work done.

Where the ecosystem fits in is the part where we are passing data back and forth between apps with a fantastic UI and an awesome UX that allows users to do their work faster and more efficiently while not driving them crazy

I gave an example of this with the car salesman in this post. What you see is that the salesman was able to focus on his customers, and meeting their needs while his tools stepped out of the way of being intrusive and actually became part of the pitch to sell the car because they enable the salesman to collaborate with the customers from the get go.

Let’s take another example we have all experienced and take a look at the ecosystem that can be built to turn a business on its head. This time let’s take a look at a patient visit to a doctor’s office. We’ve all been there. You head to your 10am doctors appointment. You get to the waiting room and the first thing the receptionist does is hand you a clipboard where you fill out your insurance information and your symptoms. Then you hand your insurance card over to be photocopied and sit and wait for 10 minutes or maybe it’s two hours while reading outdated copied of magazines left on the table. When you finally get taken back into the exam room, you get looked at by a nurse first who may take your temperature and a few other readings, she writes this all up on chart form that goes back into your folder and places it in the door for your doctor to grab when they come in to see you. The doctor walks in, grabs the chart, reads it for a few minutes and then performs more tests. Scribbles some stuff back on the piece of paper in the folder and hopefully makes a diagnosis. If the diagnosis requires medication to be prescribed, he goes back out to grab his prescription pad (invariably another 10 minutes of you sitting there) and write you a prescription that only the pharmacist can read and sends you back to reception to return the folder and pay your copay (assuming you have insurance in the first place). You then head to the pharmacy to pick up your medicine. How great an experience is this usually? Not a lot of fun.

Now let’s reimagine this with an ecosystem of apps that are connected to a cloud in the back office and redo the entire visit while remaining HIPPA compliant. This time you walk into your doctor’s office on time and the receptionist hands you an iPad where they have conveniently pulled up your previous records in an ehealthrecord app.

You sit down in the waiting room and you look over the information that they already have on you. If your address or phone number has changed, you change it right there on your health record. If it is your first visit of the year, you click on the button to add your insurance card and you snap a picture of your card using the iPad’s camera. The app conveniently pops up a guide on screen so you can line the card up perfectly and it reminds you take pictures of both sides of the card. When you have finished with all the data they need for insurance purposes you click on the button that says submit. The receptionist gets all your data and can start opening the claims process on her end. At the same time a new app opens “your visit”. The “your visit” app asks some simple questions about why you are there. There’s a spot for what symptoms you are having, an anatomical figure so you can point out any pains or other body symptoms. It asks if your medication has changed as it lists what you were on last time you were there. When you finishing filling out the form you hit submit. The iPad has a counter on it that tells you approximately when you should be seeing the doctor. While you wait you can play a game on the tablet or throw a TV episode from it’s library on the screen, or just fall back to reading your favorite magazine, which no longer has any pages ripped out.

Next you pop into the exam room. The nurse takes her readings and she does it with a smart device connected to the instruments. When she weighs you on the Fitbit scale or takes you blood pressure with the Withings cuff, the results are automatically recorded. If you are curious she can show them to you on the iPad you are still holding. At the same time, all this information is transmitted to the iPad the doctor has. He can look at the app before he walks in and know all of your symptoms, and the preliminary test results (it probably also has a photo of you so the doctor remembers exactly who you are before they walk in the room). When the doctor comes in, they get right to helping you. They perform the additional tests and make a diagnosis. Depending on the diagnosis, they may bring up an app on the iPad to show you what exactly they are diagnosing you with. It could be a set of x-rays and then a human body demo of the issue. You get to ask your questions and the doctor spends his time working with you, not writing on a piece of paper. When he prescribes you your medications, he uses a separate app on his iPad. Since you filled out your medical record when you came in, he can send them straight to your pharmacy before you even leave the exam room and at the same time it appears on you ehealthrecord so you know the specific instructions. You no longer have to worry about deciphering your doctor’s handwriting, it’s all written down for you and you can ask whatever questions you want. It will even link to the medication data so you can ask your doctor about the side effects of you like. You now have a choice, you can send that record to yourself or maybe your doctor has a HIPPA compliant portal where you can access your data at any time. The good news is that you can take your information with you.

The best part for the doctor, is he gets to spend time treating and working with you the patient and less time worrying about insurance forms. Since he is using an app, he sends his diagnosis and your visit details directly to the office manager, the codes are already in the information and it can be easy as a once over before the information gets sent to the insurance company for reimbursement. Since they have modernized their office, on the way out they use Pay with Square (or some other mobile payments technology) to automatically bill you the deductible and the receipt is sitting in your email before you have even hit the car.

Which of these two office would you like to visit? How about the doctor and their staff? Which office do you think they want to work in? The one that allows them to spend time treating their patients or the one where they spend all their time filling out paperwork and deciphering doctors notes? They will always choose the office that has built a whole ecosystem around the business requirements and then focused on the users to create the apps for that ecosystem. In this ecosystem, there were a mix of tablets, smartphones, laptops and desktops. The apps were all tied together to create an ecosystem of success.

It comes down to focusing on the users and meeting all their needs. One doesn’t have to build a killer app, they build a bunch of apps that make up a fantastic ecosystem that any user would want to use.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Travis Waggoner September 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Nicely written. I’ve been on both the monolithic and multi crapplication ecosystems and suffered and adapted as best as possible to provide the appropriate user operations. Ultimately it comes back to data/information management as to wether I fall on one big’un or multiple small ones.


Antoine RJ Wright September 15, 2012 at 7:59 am

Your killer ecosystem actually sounds more like the killer workflow engine. Easy to create, validate, and implement workflow processes drive everything IT and business on the enterprise level. I would expect that any platform or ecosystem looking to take some value it of your writing here would notice that, and get to cracking on that transaction layer… that’s where the business happens 😉


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