Business and Operations
Grow your business with mobile applications
By Brendan Lim and Chris Selmer
By Brendan Lim and Chris Selmer
Sept. 2, 2009 – Mobile applications, or apps for short, are the future for today’s
businesses. While many people associate apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, and
Google Android devices as simply fun and games, the fact is that any business
can create an app that generates customer interest, garners client loyalty, and
positions your company as the industry leader.
Just how prevalent are apps? A recent New York Times article
reports that nearly half (48 per cent) of phone users shop for apps more than
once a week. About the same number (49 per cent) report using apps on their
phone for more than 30 minutes a day. Additionally, people download an average
of 23.6 applications to their phone and use an average of 6.8 apps every day.
Clearly, the app trend is taking off, and smart businesses are claiming their
share of this market niche by developing their own apps for both internal and
Since most people’s mobile devices are always connected, when you
offer your customers a useful app, you’re giving them the opportunity to access
your services from anywhere or to simply build a bond with your brand. For
example, a pizza delivery chain could offer an app that enables customers to
order their pizza right from their phone. As part of this app there is location
awareness technology so that the pizza comes right to their door without them
having to type in an address. It also has the ability to save the customer’s
favorite menu items for easy ordering the next time. Additionally, the
customer’s credit card information is already pre-loaded, or they can put the
charge to their cell phone bill.
But apps don’t have to be that complex. For example, a large
retail store could have an app that gives a detailed map of the store aisles so
customers can easily find what they’re looking for. Or an amusement park can
have a map of the park with estimated wait times on each ride clearly defined.
You can make your app as simple or complex as you like so long as it’s
something that offers value to your customers.
Whether you’ve considered creating an app for your company or are just
learning about this business development option, the following are some points
to keep in mind.
customers are always on the go
Companies need to realize that their customers are busy and rely
on their cell phone to stay connected with the world. In fact, most people
consider their cell phone their most important tool and couldn’t imagine life
without it. So if you think your customers will naturally think of you in the
midst of their hectic life, you need to think again. By not having an app that keeps
your customers engaged, you are potentially losing market share to those
companies that do offer apps. Any company, large or small, can develop and
benefit from a customer-focused app.
mobile phones are complex all-in-one devices
People today rely on their cell phone for much more than telephone
calls. For many people, their cell phone is also their GPS device, their
camera, their day planner, their radio, their customer relationship tool, and
their handheld video gaming device. Today’s phones are essentially
mini-computers. Since customers are using their phones for so many varied
tasks, it’s essential that your company creates an app that will make people’s
lives easier or more productive.
your customers really are
With so many mobile platforms out there, you need to know which
one the majority of your customers are on. Each platform has different app
requirements and development framework. That’s why you need to know your
customers. For example, if your target market is business professionals, you’d
likely want to create your app for the Blackberry; however, if your target
market is general consumers, then the iPhone may be your best choice. Since
developing an app will cost money, you want to create it for the right platform
that will reach the majority of your customers. Then, as your app grows in
popularity and success, you can redesign it for the other platforms.
An app can
boost your bottom line
A well designed app can help your company’s profits in two ways.
First, when you engage your customers, create a bond with them, or simply offer
them a useful application, they will think of you whenever they have a need for
your product or service, and they’ll refer others to you. You’ll attain the
coveted top of mind awareness with them, which will naturally result in more
sales. Second, the app you offer can be either free or for a fee. Free apps
tend to be promotional in nature, novel, or designed to support an existing app
that already brings in revenue. Fee-based apps are generally more thoroughly
developed and designed to actually have a value that a person would be willing
to pay for. For many companies, their fee-based app can be a new revenue
stream. In fact, some companies are built entirely around mobile apps.
Seek out an
experienced app vendor
Creating an app could be a big undertaking for an organization
without a technical background and that doesn’t have experienced people in-house
to do it. Therefore, you need to find the right company to develop your app.
It’s best to find a vendor that has previously developed mobile apps, and one
that has worked on multiple platforms so you can eventually put your app on all
cell phones. Ultimately, any company of any size and in any industry can have
an app; it’s just a matter of finding the right partner to walk you through it.
Mobile applications are a great way for companies to stay in
contact with customers and build their brand. If you ignore this emerging
business trend, you could potentially lose a lot of business by not catering to
your mobile audience. Remember that today’s consumers are addicted to their
cell phones. Some people don’t even have a home phone anymore – their cell
phone is their connection to the world. Smart businesses are taking the steps
to make sure they are part of that lifeline people have. The more useful your
apps are for your customers, the more profitable your business will be.
a full-service web product and consulting firm that helps companies with web
design, development and strategy. Their
specialized professionals provide simple, intuitive solutions on everything
from social and business collaboration to cloud computing to web and mobile
applications. Fortune 500 companies have used their services, as well as
government agencies. Brendan Lim, partner at Intridea and director of mobile
development, has years of experience as a systems architect. Co-author, Chris
Selmer, is a senior partner at Intridea, and director of client solutions. For
more information on services and packages, visit www.Intridea.com.