Unless you‘ve been living under a rock, you’ve already heard of apps. Apps are ways to get deals, music, travel, exercise, cooking, and the list goes on. In short, ya, there’s an app for that! There’s even an app named the “Outsider app” – it’s a Windows phone app. But, what the heck is an outsider app?
In the technology/security world, outsider apps are software applications, whether mobile, tablet, or PC based, that can be used for a standalone purpose or integrated into other primary applications within your internal environment but originate from a source outside of your environment. Sometimes these apps can be seen as add-ons and can be confused with simple third-party interfaces, but outsider apps are little too avant-garde to fit that convention.
A little unconventional thinking could be just the thing your organization needs for a boost of vitality. In the art world, there is an entire genre of “outsider” art (and an app for it). According to the Philadelphia Museum of Art , outsider art “is made by people who have not gone to art school, who usually do not operate professionally or earn their livings as artists…Not categorized by styles, movements, or trends, it is art made by individuals who are driven to create by their own particular inner compulsions, which may be visionary, derived from memories, evangelical, or popular-culture inspired…The best outsiders produce work that is out of the ordinary, edgy, imaginative…”
That description fits today’s app developers perfectly. Software development used to be an exclusive, elusive club of geekdom for a specific and very intricate purpose. That has changed and today we even have children creating apps! In 2011, the World Record Academy recognized Thomas Suarez from Los Angeles, age 12, as the world’s Youngest App Developer. Young Tom has already established his own company, CarrotCorp, and made two iOS apps.
Imaginative inventors abound and businesses have many opportunities for internal improvements. To succeed in today’s business world, you need every edge you can get. There are numerous secure apps that can be used with your existing infrastructure that will lower operating costs, boost productivity or just let you communicate with your customers easier. Whether you purchase a hosted application from a service provider to help you access your accounting system on the go, or integrate a new project management application into your business suite, finding an out of the box solution to integrate into your infrastructure rather than going to the time and expense of building something from scratch will almost always lead to faster implementation and decreased costs.
Twitter is a great example. To most people, Twitter immediately conjures images of posts noting what people are having for dinner, that they just left the metro, or that Best Buy has a sale…but Twitter is used every day as a major communications tool for companies to notify customers of status alerts, emergency situations and general news items. For instance, the MortgageFlex Support Services team uses “Mort Support” to communicate with customers via Twitter. In fact, we have integrated Twitter into our help desk app so that customers can even request support through the Twitter interface.
One of the most popular enterprise app suites available during the past few years is Google Apps. Whether using the consumer friendly apps to create documents, send e-mail, or video chat, the collaboration offered has been adopted by individuals through Fortune 500 companies, as a matter of fact, these outsider apps are now used by over 5 million businesses worldwide, including MortgageFlex. During the past year we have moved all of our internal documentation (training materials, guides, technical manuals) to Google drives, allowing our team easier remote access and giving them better collaborative abilities. This article was written and reviewed using a Google app.
So why have outsider apps like the Google Apps suite become so popular? It all comes back to the consumerization of technology into small but purposeful apps. Strategy Analytics, a global research and consulting firm, recently published that smartphone users have now topped over 1 billion, with another billion to be added to this by 2015. Apps have become part of our daily lives so integrating easy-to-use apps that keep us connected to our workplace just makes sense. Not only can you collaborate in real-time via a web interface, you can also store your email and files securely in the “cloud” without the worry of ever losing your data. Companies can now easily fix a cost to a new employee for this whole collaboration suite and not have to worry about increasing infrastructure costs associated with these apps since they are not hosted internally.
Ultimately, integrating outsider apps into your organization will become a necessity. As a financial institution or mortgage lender, it is imperative that these outsider apps be fully vetted by your technical and security teams before deploying for internal use or your external customer use. In the end, though, having an app – mobile, tablet, or desktop – will increase your business efficiencies and decrease costs. So next time you need a solution that you don’t have with your current software, take a look – I bet there’s an outsider app for that!
About The Author
Asher Lohman is the Director of Information Technology at LOS vendor MortgageFlex Systems, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida. Lohman has extensive information technology experience, including network and systems administration experience, cloud data center support, Google Apps, and direct customer interface support.