Monday, September 1, 2014

Sticky Not Tricky


In many recent technology success stories a key component is the “stickiness factor”. These super sticky websites and applications grew their user base virally and exponentially. If you haven’t caught on yet don’t worry the concept itself isn’t tricky. In this context sticky describes when users stay longer, and keep returning to use software. In the case of the web, the browser’s homepage (and to a lesser degree favourites) helps a site to be sticky. Increasingly however mobile applications with their installation process, accessibility, and features, have better opportunities to be sticky.

Most people think of stickiness as purely for consumer facing applications. Enterprise applications can make use of sticky techniques to increase usage and drive employee behaviours. The carrot and stick need to be appropriately considered depending on your relationship with your users, organisational culture, and appetite for risk. For example you don’t want to drive the wrong behaviour in your employees by encouraging them to play with their phone rather than doing their job.

So what features make an application sticky? Gamification techniques are often favoured. Some examples of these include achievements, point scoring, leader boards, time/daily based challenges, and obsolescence. (For further information on gamification please refer to the article “Enterprise Gamification is it a thing?”). Additionally providing time sensitive information such as news updates, enabling chat features, and importantly social networking techniques can encourage users to return to your application. Along with the social and gamification possibilities to be truly sticky the application must be usable and as simple as practical.

Why worry about sticky? Stickiness is a key contributing factor to user uptake. Gone are the days of build it and they will come, with user expectations continuing to increase. Let’s face it you want users to be excited and motivated to use your mobile application. Consider marketing and messaging reinforcement, every page view and every second that a user is interacting with you impacts brand loyalty and provides additional opportunities. Leverage your crowd. No matter if you have millions or just hundreds of users. Can you consider a way that you can help them to help you?

Sticky Concepts for Enterprise Mobility
Consider the KPIs that you are driving and factoring these via sticky/gamification techniques into mobile applications. For example imagine a service organisation with a mobile application to capture work events. This organisation is keen for each employee to capture customer success stories. You could simply add a survey to the application; however it might be much more effective to enable your employee to capture a video of the customer’s reaction to their service. Allow employees to reach their KPI in an interactive way and reward the best videos with extra recognition.

Different types of business may be able to offer specific features that make their applications stickier. For example in the financial sector some examples could include:
  • Providing an application feature like balance without log-in could encourage users to keep an app running and refer back to it more often. 
  • Goal tracking for personal finances is a logical way to provide added value that keeps users returning to track their progress.
  • Providing up-to date stock or currency conversion information
In a supply chain business some examples could include:
  • Providing top performer lists and associate rewards
  • Setting real-time watch lists for key events and/or status of key orders or incidents
  • Adding features like online chat for service. 

Sales and Call-centre/help-desk business process have clear targets and readily available statistics that can leverage gamification techniques. If your organisational culture has a competitive streak then adding gamification features like a scoreboard can provide a real talking point. Perhaps the top 5 sales people could be shown in an easily accessible way. In addition adding social type interactions such as “liking” or “sharing” key events can drive stickiness.

For enterprise mobile applications (regardless of whether they are B2E, B2B, or B2C) a user base that is motivated to engage is important to success. Don’t rush in but carefully consider your goals and the culture, along with appropriate techniques and rewards in formulating a useful sticky mobile application.