Microapp Strategy: Get the Most Value from Your Enterprise Applications

Table of contents

Chess pieces depicting a microapp strategy

Did you know that employees spend approximately 20% of their computer time hunting for the data and features they need inside enterprise applications? Rather than working on specific job tasks, they are getting lost in a maze of log-in prompts and dropdown menus -- losing a fifth of their productivity in the process. Having a well defined microapp strategy is therefore an important part of increasing your organisation's productivity.

While it’s shocking to consider how much time is being lost, these enterprise app inefficiencies are also an opportunity for leveraging the power of microapps. With a microapp strategy, you can eliminate significant workflow bottlenecks in one fell swoop. Plus, when you use an API integration platform like DreamFactory you can quickly, affordably, and codelessly create all of the microapps you need.

Did you know you can generate a full-featured, documented, and secure REST API in minutes using DreamFactory? Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how! Our guided tour will show you how to create an API using an example MySQL database provided to you as part of the trial!

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In this guide to easy microapp strategy, we’ll show you how microapps can streamline workflows across your organization. Please use these links to navigate the guide:

Definition of a Microapp Strategy

At their core, microapp strategies recognize that (1) employees only interact with about four to five key functions inside the typical enterprise application, and (2) employees waste a lot of time trying to access and use these enterprise functions. Microapps eliminate this wasted time by putting key functions from different enterprise apps at the fingertips of employees -- making them accessible from a single pane of glass. 

Microapps achieve their goals by creating a simple, targeted process that satisfies a single use-case found inside a more complex enterprise application. The purpose is to streamline employee interactions with larger applications -- and reduce “context-switching” between applications. This allows team members to complete specific tasks without losing time logging into different apps and searching for the exact feature or data they need. 

A microapp functions via an API integration that connects the microapp to a larger enterprise application. The microapp -- which is an autonomous mini-application in itself -- uses the enterprise app’s API to read, update, and interact with key app functions and data. As TechTarget explains: “In a microapp architecture, the user interacts with application functionality that runs inside an application container. Each app can function by itself or be combined with other microapps to create a more complex program. When the complex program invokes a microapp, it [the microapp] will carry out its specific task.”

Definition of a microapp strategy (TL;DR): Microapps allow you to bypass the need to launch and log into different enterprise applications. This dramatically reduces “context-switching” between various applications, which is detrimental to employee concentration and productivity. By further eliminating the need to hunt through dropdown menus and search for specific functions in enterprise apps, microapp strategies streamline workflows while boosting employee concentration and productivity. 

Key Characteristics of Microapps

At DreamFactory, we define microapps for enterprise systems by the following characteristics:

  • Single-purpose: Microapps focus on performing a single task within a larger, more complicated enterprise application. This task might relate to expense approvals, e-course registrations, calendaring meetings, ordering supplies, and other types of tasks.
  • Responsive: Microapps are “responsive” in that you can access them and interact with them just as easily on a laptop computer as you can on a tablet or smartphone. 
  • Notification-driven: You don’t have to look for the information. The information comes to you. An interactive notification usually shows up in the activity feed in your workspace environment, smartphone, tablet, or laptop. 
  • Authenticated, authorized, and secure: Authentication and authorization is essential for the safety and security of your microapp infrastructure to ensure that only authorized users and teams can read and modify enterprise system information. By combining Dreamfactory and Citrix Workspace, you’ll have APIs for the most popular identity providers (IDPs) at your fingertips. These include Okta, Active Directory, AWS Cognito, Active Directory, and more.

There’s another microapp characteristic that is more of an exciting possibility than must. This relates to microapps with a short lifespan. Imagine your enterprise is hosting an upcoming event or working on a short-term project. You can rapidly build a temporary microapp to manage the event or project. With DreamFactory and a workspace management application, it only takes a few minutes to auto-generate a microapp that connects to your enterprise calendaring, email, marketing, CRM, and other systems. Creating microapps like this is so fast, easy, and codeless, that you can simply delete the microapp when the project or event is done. 

Key characteristics of microapps (TL;DR): The key characteristics of microapps include: (1) single-purpose functionality; (2) responsiveness to run on all kinds of devices; (3) notification-driven so the information and tasks come to you; and (4) rock-solid authentication and authorization for data security purposes. Plus, with automatic microapp generation tools from DreamFactory it’s easy to build disposable, short-lifespan microapps for temporary projects.

Example of a Microapp Strategy

Imagine you’re writing a detailed report when you get an urgent request to approve an expense. This requires you to stop what you’re doing, log into the expense approval system, hunt for the expense, and finally, consider whether to approve it. According to a University of California study, it can take up to 23 minutes to regain your focus after this kind of workflow disruption. The real “work” of this task -- approving the expense request -- takes seconds, but the login and navigation process takes a great deal longer. Plus, you have to suffer through 23 minutes of disturbed concentration. 

A microapp strategy can eliminate this disturbance by presenting the expense approval task as an interactive push notification. The microapp brings the task directly to you -- so you don’t have to find it. Then it gives you a quick and simple action to perform. All you have to do is click a button or enter a response inside the notification and it’s done. There’s no need to interrupt your concentration by entering a separate application.

Below is an example of a microapp feed in an expense management application. Notice how each microapp appears as an interactive push notification. Scrolling through the notifications allows you to complete a number of tasks without logging into their associated enterprise apps. You can set up a feed like this using the DreamFactory platform and integrated with the respective application, you can access the feed from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. 

As you can see, the first notification above is for an expense approval microapp. It provides two buttons that say “Approve” or “Send Back.” By clicking one of these buttons, the task is complete. You can also expand the notification for additional details (next image):

Microapp strategy example (TL;DR): Microapps intend on providing employees with a consistent and modern experience independent of the legacy systems they leverage, providing a simplified and effective way to perform important departmental workflows. Can you imagine using a microapp strategy like this to quickly breeze through your busywork on the subway, while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or while standing in line for coffee at Starbucks? 

Microapp Strategy and Artificial Intelligence

The most advanced microapp strategies harness the power of AI and machine learning to create “smart” notification feeds. In these AI-driven strategies, microapp notifications automatically arrange themselves to deliver the most important tasks and information first, and they automatically expire when no longer needed. This ensures that microapp feeds stay as short and efficient as possible. 

Depending on how administrators configure the notification feeds, the AI system can push the smart notifications directly to the user, or the user can invoke a specific microapp for specific functions. Developers can set up these AI-driven microapp strategies without additional infrastructure. They simply need an API integration platform like DreamFactory to establish the connection with their enterprise app. 

DreamFactory’s native API integration with Citrix Workspace is an excellent tool for building AI-driven microapp feeds. Citrix Workspace includes automated microapp generation tools, plus AI and machine learning features that organize microapp feeds for greater efficiency. 

AI microapp strategy (TL;DR): Combining a microapp strategy with machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence allows employees to achieve even greater levels of workflow efficiency. Ultimately, having an AI system curate your microapp feed according to specific factors is kind of like having a personal assistant strategically organize your workday tasks for the greatest effectiveness. 

Easy and Codeless Microapp Development

The point-and-click microapp tools in many enterprise applications make developing microapps easy. These tools include pre-built templates that administrators can leverage to quickly implement microapp strategies without writing a single line of code. These can include pre-built microapps for: 

  • Google G-Suite Directory, Drive, and Calendar
  • SAP Concur, Ariba, and SuccessFactor
  • Tableau
  • Workday
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • Atlassian Jira
  • Zendesk

Beyond out-of-the-box microapps, some modern 'workspace' applications features customization tools to develop custom microapp solutions via codeless, drag-and-drop interface. Developers and administrators can also use REST API connector to build microapps that interact with enterprise apps and systems of record (SoRs) that aren’t on the list of pre-built solutions. The REST API connector empowers you to read and update data from virtually any application or database that exposes a REST API.

Your microapp possibilities expand even wider after pairing an enterprise application with DreamFactory. DreamFactory’s automated REST API generation tools allow you to instantly generate a REST API for virtually any enterprise SoR, application, or database. This lets you rapidly connect your microapps to even more databases and legacy systems by eliminating the usual delays of hand-coding a custom REST API. DreamFactory also gives you immediate access to APIs for the most advanced authentication and authorization solutions available. By minimizing and/or eliminating coding delays, DreamFactory helps you quickly build secure microapps that interact with virtually any enterprise application or SoR. 

Easy and codeless microapp strategy development (TL;DR): DreamFactory automates the creation and management of APIs, API integrations, and authentication/authorization for your microapp infrastructure. This provides a codeless, point-and-click interfaces to minimize and/or eliminate coding challenges providing the easiest and fastest way to build a secure, powerful, enterprise microapp strategy.

Did you know you can generate a full-featured, documented, and secure REST API in minutes using DreamFactory? Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how! Our guided tour will show you how to create an API using an example MySQL database provided to you as part of the trial!

Start Your Microapp Strategy Now

Final Thoughts on Microapp Strategy

By now, you should have a better understanding of microapps and how they streamline employee workflows. You should also understand how easy it is to build a powerful enterprise microapp strategy with the DreamFactory platfrom.   

As an advanced API integration management platform that runs on-premises or in the cloud, DreamFactory allows you to rapidly integrate new services and technologies into your IT infrastructure. With DreamFactory, you can quickly launch both pre-built microapps and use a point-and-click interface to build custom microapps for unique business use-cases. Then, you can use DreamFactory to quickly establish and manage API connections for authenticating users and managing communication between the microapps and your enterprise systems.

Want to learn more about microapp strategy and DreamFactory? Schedule a free hosted trial of DreamFactory and start leveraging the power of microapps now.