Mobile Apps: Underutilised and Underappreciated?
This post provides a quick summary of the state of play in the mobile category. We’re surprised by the results but looking back it’s probably no real surprise given the history and the landscape. A flip side to this is that we think many organizations should fill their mobile app gap quickly and ensure their teams are fully productive.
For context we would have thought with the enormous benefits that McKinsey has called out for best practices tools in the Agile/Dev Ops space (see this post https://www.blendedperspectives.com/mckinseys-double-whammy-or-why-arent-you-investing-in-the-tools/); helping mobile users be productive would be a key part of the strategy.
So clearly based on the above, apps that enhance the Atlassian experience on mobile devices, have not achieved the results we would have expected in the Marketplace. Almost all of us know from personal experience that as mobile devices have become increasingly powerful, more people are using them as an important tool for work. The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this process, with tremendous numbers of people working from home and using personal devices for work. So when we analyzed the Atlassian Marketplace for mobile apps we were surprised to see a lack of competition and growth in this category.
Atlassian has its own mobile apps, so the lack of competition among apps looking to enhance the experience might suggest that the vast majority of consumers are happy with Atlassian’s offering as is, but many reviews of their mobile apps don’t bear that out. It is almost certain that as time goes on, more people will be accessing their Atlassian products on smartphones and tablets, so this is a space that has incredible potential for growth.
Why is this the case?
One theory is that there has always been a sense that the Atlassian mobile offering has lagged. Perhaps the expectation is that in the end Atlassian will get it right. But we know that Atlassian is leery of explicitly supporting 3rd party apps which is clearly a critical success factor for Mobile.
As of now, aside from Atlassian themselves, there are only two major players in the Jira mobile space: Infosysta and MobilityStream. Infosysta is the clear leader in the space when it comes to instances, with their apps Mobile for Jira and Mobile for Jira Service Desk Portal capturing over half of the total instances. MobilityStream’s Mobility for Jira – Mobile Jira Team is currently the only challenger for Infosysta, but from our calculations, they are losing ground, with Infosysta’s apps having high rates of growth whereas almost every other app in the category is losing instances.
In the Confluence sphere, there is even less competition, with Refined’s “Refined Mobile for Confluence” being the undisputed leader. No other Confluence mobile app even comes close to the 500 instance threshold.
Jira and Jira Service Desk
It is important to look at each of these apps individually and compare them with Atlassian’s offering to understand why certain ones are dominant and others are stagnant or losing ground.
We asked our consultants to try these apps and give us their impressions, and from what they found, it’s no surprise that Infosysta is dominant in the Jira space. Their Mobile for Jira is easy to set-up, clean and uncomplicated, and provides a wide range of functionalities. It offers the ability to work on boards, provides access to Jira Service Desk queues, has an easy-to-navigate issue view, has helpful menus with actions i.e. log time, delete, assign, etc, and it works with both Server and Cloud instances.
(Screenshots of various functions and views within Infosysta‘s Jira Mobile)
In terms of the technical capabilities of Jira for Mobile, Infosysta gets high marks from our team. It has a clean looking portal landing page and overall UI, it displays all request types and categories, the customer ticket visualization is intuitive and displays information very similarly to the desktop version of JSD, and it behaves well with Insight objects.
On the other hand, the Atlassian version has a clean UI but is lacking in functionality and actions, has a confusing issue view, and has no real customization options other than the ability to change notifications, strongly giving it the feeling of a free app. This sounds harsh but in fact likely reflects the position that as a free app it’s really intended for basic use.
As for MobilityStream’s Mobility for Jira – Mobile Jira Team, it is perhaps stronger than the Atlassian app, but not close to Infosysta according to our team. It offers the use of boards, a strong time tracking option, and access to JSD queues, but also comes with a series of noticeable flaws. One is that the boards are quite difficult to use and not user-friendly, another that the app claims to work with both Cloud and Server, but our team was never able to make it work for Cloud. The main takeaway was that the overall performance of the app could do with some improvements and that Infosysta‘s Mobile for Jira is the undisputed leader in the Jira mobile space.
On the Jira Service Desk side, there is even less competition. Only one dedicated JSD mobile app exists, and it is Infosysta‘s Mobile for Jira Service Desk. MobilityStream’s Mobility for Jira – Mobile Jira Team also services JSD it should be noted. Atlassian hasn’t created their own dedicated app, leaving Infosysta as the only one with a focused JSD product.
Working with the Marketplace
In the diagram above we’re pointing out that it’s not just the core Atlassian product that counts it’s also the apps that are part of the overall solution that count also. This is one of the reasons we think that Atlassian are unlikely in the short to medium term come up with a dedicated mobile app capable of supporting all the third party apps; where do you draw the line? In this case though Infosysta has a solid headstart. These apps below are explicitly supported by Infosysta‘s Jira for Mobile app.
This doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing. One of the only real drawbacks we identified was in regards to integration with further more powerful 3rd party apps. Our consultants thought that support for apps like Deviniti’s Dynamic Forms and Extension for Jira would be helpful. We know that this will come at some point.
(Some examples of features and portals within Infosysta‘s Mobile for Jira Service Desk)
Jira Service Desk
The JSD aspect of MobilityStream’s app also gets good marks from our team. They too have a clean portal landing page, solid display of categories, easy form and issue creation, and intuitive ticket visualization. In a reverse of one of the main issues with Infosysta‘s offering,
MobilityStream does support Dynamic Forms (a big plus for the team), but its integration with Insight seems buggy and objects do not always display when they should. Another issue that was noticed is that while the option for internal and external comments on tickets is offered, internal comments are denied if the user doesn’t have the right permissions, which could lead to confusing messages being sent to the customer when they were only supposed to be inward-facing.
On the whole, Infosysta and MobilityStream’s JSD apps offer very similar functionalities, with only relatively minor differences between them. Each app has improvements it still needs to make, and there is room to grow considering that Atlassian has decided not to enter the mobile JSD space.
(MobilityStream features and portals for JSD)
Refined Mobile for Confluence
Refined Mobile for Confluence is a mobile skin for Confluence. You won’t find it on your device’s App store – it’s a server-side install only. At $650 for 500 users, it is an inexpensive way to brand your Server site, though it is not certified for Data Center. It was the notable way to support mobile other than stock iPhone and Android, but whereas in 2015 Chrome and Safari only totalled 29+21 50% of the market in 2020 those now comprise 86%. Source: https://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/mobile/worldwide/2015
Growth-wise, in Dec 2018 we saw 599 instances this is now total more than 750. Refined Mobile for Confluence has some handy ways to override display for mobile devices, both with custom stylesheets and mechanisms to change the behaviour of particular macros. Recommended both for users of Refined for Confluence and for site administrators needing to provide a more customized experience.
If you looked at Marketplace, your first impression that this product has been discontinued would be false. Instead, Linchpin Mobile became bundled only to the main product, Linchpin Intranet Suite, since December 2019, as part of Linchpin’s consolidation into a simplified install. Speaking with Adil, product manager during a recent visit to Germany this was explained as this was a commercial decision that reinforced the fact that most customers of mobile were already customers of Linchpin, and that this way development of both could continue in tandem at top speed.
Linchpin is a substantial umbrella of functionality that complements Confluence’s team centricity with features required for full intranet implementation. Typically these are where the user base exceeds 250 people because at that point there are significant complexities to manage.
The most obvious conclusion is that organizations heavily using Atlassian should be investing more substantially in mobile apps. The decisions in this regard are relatively straightforward. We would like to see one vendor provide a coordinated approach to both Jira and Confluence plus JSD so that it’s an easier overall support model for mobile users.