Perceptive Apps vs. Native Apps: The Right Mobile Apps for Your IWMS - eCIFM Solutions

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Perceptive Apps vs. Native Apps: The Right Mobile Apps for Your IWMS

20 May
2021

If your organization uses an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) to manage its real estate and assets, you’re already well aware how the desktop version helps manage everything in your organization’s portfolio, from identifying underused facilities to keeping track of your capital projects. Extending IWMS functionality beyond the desktop to remote job sites requires the use of applications designed to be used with mobile devices. Mobile apps designed for use with an IWMS may be broken down into three general categories:

  • Form-Based Apps, which work from a mobile device’s browser
  • Perceptive Apps, which, as with form-based apps, are HTML-based and may access a device’s features
  • Native Apps, which are designed specifically for one device and can access your mobile device’s features

Deciding which kinds of apps will work best for your organization is a matter of knowing what’s out there and understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Form-Based Apps

Many Integrated Workplace Management Systems have form-based applications that are available to any user with a mobile browser. Pull up the appropriate page on your device’s browser, and you can immediately access information in a format nearly identical to that presented by the desktop version of your IWMS. This is useful in many instances, though it only works while you have an active online connection. Because form-based apps, also referred to as web-based apps, aren’t specifically designed for mobile devices, users will likely have to pinch and zoom on their screens to continuously adjust the viewable area. Native device features like GPS and camera integration won’t be accessible with a form-based app, so users miss out on useful options like photo documentation or onsite asset barcode scanning. Depending on the needs of your mobile workers, however, these limitations may not be a significant handicap.

FORM-BASED APPS

PROS CONS
Browser-basedAlready implemented; won’t require a separate installation Must have an online connectionNot specifically designed for touch targets or mobile devicesNative device features aren’t accessibleGenerally, they will consume a user license

Perceptive Apps

Perceptive apps, also known as hybrid apps, go beyond form-based apps by combining those capabilities with the ability to access some of the native features of your device, such as its GPS or its camera. Some third-party IWMS partners design their own perceptive apps to give users customized access to the functions and features of the IWMS. As an example of how a perceptive app may be used, this means that as long as they’re online, field technicians can repair equipment at various locations during their day by using GPS within the app to guide them along the most efficient route, then access IWMS data through the browser and document their findings with their cameras.

Think of a perceptive app as a browser-based web page that draws upon your mobile device’s native platform. To use perceptive apps, users download an app container, usually from the App Store for iPhone or Google Play for Android. When they launch the container, it displays an HTML5- and JavaScript-enabled web-based interface, which lets users access many phone features that work with the IWMS. Perceptive apps offer far more features and functionality than form-based web apps. However, one key advantage is that they’re usually not limited to a single platform, which opens up options as to which mobile devices your workers may use.

It’s worth noting that perceptive apps are targeted to specific task-driven functionality. While they’re very useful for specific tasks that may be completed on a job site such as space inspections and reporting information, they’re not fully-optimized mobile extensions of a complete IWMS.

PERCEPTIVE APPS

PROS CONS
Responsive to device sizeNo device installation requiredWork across multiple platforms Not as fast as native appsLess complex than native appsOnly certain native device features will be accessibleOffline only available for certain browsers

Native Apps

While form-based apps are a straightforward solution, your workers will be unable to reap the benefits that come from having access to the various features of their mobile devices from within the app. Perceptive apps offer a partial solution by allowing users to access some of their device’s features, yet they may fall short of full utility.

Native apps are several steps beyond both form-based apps and perceptive apps in terms of simplicity and functionality. They’re both faster and more complete than perceptive apps. They’re designed for use with a specific platform and are accessed via an icon installed on your phone’s home screen; they’re generally downloaded and installed from an online app store. Since they’re developed specifically for your mobile device’s platform, they’re able to take advantage of all of its features and will give you the best performance of all app varieties on your mobile device.

A version of your IWMS designed as a native app will give workers access to more of your IWMS’s functionality while in the field. As an example, a native app for an IWMS may give users the ability to scan an asset’s barcode onsite to bring up its service history, warranty information and anything else past workers have documented. This can mean the difference between being able to make a repair on the spot and having to make a return trip—the type of efficiency which, when applied throughout your portfolio, can make a huge difference in spending, savings, equipment life and budgeting. A well-designed native app will come the closest to giving your team the proper functionality for their task at hand.

NATIVE APPS

PROS CONS
Responsive to userBest ROI due to productivity and licensing.User-friendly, task-driven applicationsAvailable online and offlineAccess to native device features Written to target a particular deviceMust be installed on each device, either manually or via mobile device management (MDM)

The Right Mobile Apps for Your IWMS

The selection of mobile apps available to IWMS users is expanding. Look for an app that has all the functionality of your IWMS that your workers will need in the field; you’ll also want to make sure your mobile apps are continuously tested and updated by the developers, as the needs of IWMS users constantly change and grow. If your organization uses the powerful and extensive IBM TRIRIGA® IWMS, consider eCIFM’s suite of On-The-Go mobile apps, designed to bring the full functionality of TRIRIGA into the field.

eCIFM has been creating and refining its mobile apps for use with TRIRIGA since 2005. On-The-Go apps are responsive native apps that work on both iPhone and Android platforms; they’re integrated with your phone’s native features, such as its barcode scanner, biometrics and camera. On-The-Go mobile apps may be used online or offline and will automatically synchronize information with TRIRIGA whenever a connection is available. They work with all 10.x versions of TRIRIGA, so there’s no need to upgrade.

As a premier IBM business partner and a certified value-added TRIRIGA reseller, our experience has been that, although users can start with TRIRIGA right out of the box, extra customization is usually required to enable an organization to get the absolute best value from it. This is one of the areas at which we excel: We can install TRIRIGA for you, migrate your existing data into it, customize TRIRIGA solutions expressly for you, and upgrade it whenever necessary—regardless of who originally installed it for you.

Our extensive mobile experience is one reason to use us for your mobile app implementation. Many of our developers are previous TRIRIGA users, so we know what users need. Customization for your organization’s specific needs means custom coding, and we can handle that as well. If you’re considering mobile options for your TRIRIGA system and are wondering which type of app is best for your budget, needs and strategic goals, give us a call.

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