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Manufacturer turns to micro apps to save time

An electronics manufacturer is in the planning stages of implementing micro apps in Citrix Workspace in the hopes of saving time and easing distractions.

The remote work environment has put a premium on employee productivity, and manufacturer Kemet Electronics Corp. is considering customizing micro apps to focus an employee's digital working environment.

Chris Hall, Kemet's vice president of global IT, said the firm first started using Citrix Workspace -- Citrix's digital workspace platform that includes its application and desktop virtualization products -- about a year ago. The business is now looking into some of the platform's more advanced features, like the ability to create micro apps, or small programs designed to complete simple, targeted tasks quickly.

Chris HallChris Hall

"The first year was more about building out the architecture," Hall said of deploying Workspace. "We needed to make sure we could support that from a foundational perspective first. We held our cards tight to the vest."

Benefits of micro apps

Hall said he expected Kemet to see a benefit from both the out-of-the-box Citrix Workspace Microapps already integrated into Workspace -- such as ServiceNow for tasks like submitting and monitoring IT service requests and Salesforce for CRM -- as well as custom-built micro apps.

"The benefit to the user is instead of having to switch between five, six, 10 apps, they can get to a lot of their [tasks] from a single pane of glass," he said.

About 50% of Kemet's workers, Hall said, are using at least four or five apps. Consolidating the everyday tasks that those apps do into a single interface could save time, as logging into multiple apps and switching between them can be inefficient.

If properly implemented, Hall said, micro apps could ease such tasks as purchase order requests and approvals and time off requests and approvals.

"There are so many different approval processes in a large company, because of all the various compliance constraints and controls we have," he said. "Especially for your management team, that can take up quite a bit of time, [because] all those things are in different systems."

The pandemic has driven a lot of new collaboration tools, like Microsoft Teams, to the fore. Hall said he'd be interested in seeing notifications from such tools integrated, using micro apps, into Workspace.

Early stages

Kemet, Hall said, is still in the planning stages when it comes to micro apps; the business is just now setting up a prototype to determine how it could benefit from the technology. Micro app integration is relatively new for Workspace as well. It was released in December 2019, and came about as a result of Citrix's acquisition of Sapho.

"[We're] interested in doing the due diligence to really build out a true use case," he said. "It's almost impossible to think that there's not work here to do."

Hall said he was approaching micro apps in a conservative way to ensure the company's employees have the best possible experience with them.

"When it comes to a project like this, you really only get one shot at getting it right," he said. "If you don't deliver what is expected, the chances of you getting to come back to the well and try again are slim."

The COVID-19 pandemic, Hall said, had moved IT's focus to more immediate concerns, mainly ensuring people can do their day-to-day work. He said, though, that micro apps could be quite useful for remote work. Distractions can crop up while employees are switching between apps, making micro apps a valuable subject to further explore.

"As we continue to move forward, we're having to look at things like work-from-home as a permanent part of our working environment," he said. "Because of that, I think [micro apps] is a topic that will start to become a bigger, important thing in the weeks and months to come."

 "That's something I'm excited about, because we're not starting from scratch. I can definitely see benefits from a solution like this in [the remote work] environment specifically," he said.

Hall noted that Kemet is being acquired by the Taiwan-based firm Yageo, and said that he believed the firm's use of technologies like micro apps and Workspace would help the companies integrate more quickly.

Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said micro apps could be a key contributor to the future of work.

"People working for enterprises are often stifled by siloed functional applications, forcing them to switch content and log in and log out routinely, effectively degrading the user experience," he said. "Micro apps can address this by creating a workflow layer, taking care of authentication … while ensuring people have a consistent, modern user experience."

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