Bill B. is Director of Engineering at a multi-billion dollar interactive gaming company. A few years ago he took over a new mobile initiative focused on making the firm’s 8,500+ employees (many of them passionate gamers) happier and more productive. Bill recently spoke to us about the employee-focused (B2E) apps he’s building with Ionic, and what it’s meant for him, his team of skilled web developers, and the company as a whole. Here’s his story (at their request I’ll keep the company and individuals anonymous).
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App sprawl & inconsistency holding back employees
Bill faced significant challenges getting started. App sprawl and design inconsistencies meant that employees had to juggle up to 18 different apps, all with varying user experiences and workflows. On top of that, many of the apps were outsourced, so his team had very little control over how they were designed and built.
His first order of business was to bring the outsourced apps back in-house, starting with an internal app that offered pre-release games to employees to test and try out.
Turning web developers into mobile developers
The first challenge was finding a platform that matched the team’s skillset.
“It wasn’t like we had a bunch of Android and iOS developers sitting around.”
After evaluating Sencha, a tool that had previously been used for mobile development, they decided to try something else. One of the developers on the team had worked with Ionic before and recommended it. “It didn’t take long for everyone on the team to come to the conclusion that Ionic was the way to go.”, said Bill.
The team successfully rewrote the testing and evaluation app with Ionic. After that initial success they were asked to take on a number of new projects charted by the firm’s newly promoted Chief People Officer. She had laid out a bold vision for using mobile technology to elevate and transform the employee experience.
Keeping technical debt low with developer-friendly tools
The team has gained a reputation for solving hard problems.
“Because of the work we’ve done within the last two years, there’s more support and investment for what we’re doing. When you tackle a difficult problem, your reward is more problems people haven’t been able to solve. The only way to handle that with limited resources is to not allow any tech sprawl to happen. You have to keep technical debt as low as possible.”
To do that they’ve standardized on developer-friendly tools like AngularJS for desktop, Ionic for mobile, Node for backend services, and AWS for most infrastructure.
The importance of cross-platform
Another key enabler for the team’s success is the ability to work cross-platform.
“Working cross-platform is so important. We don’t even think about it. We’ve been hybrid from the beginning. It’s settled. We have it. My stress points would be significantly higher if we had to code everything over again for each platform.”
Openness and integration
Finally, the openness of the Ionic platform was a major benefit. The company chose Salesforce Lightning to drive consistency in front-end experiences, and Ionic’s ability to support their choice of tools means employees get a consistent look & feel across desktop and mobile experiences.
Summarizing his views on Ionic, Bill explains:
“Of the numerous things I have to worry about, Ionic and our choice of the platform is not one of them. Totally solid.”