Is Your Organization Ready for a Mobile App?


04/18/2014 | Digital Experience and Mobile | Thought Leadership

All companies seem to have or want a mobile app these days. There are good reasons for developing an app, ranging from a way to facilitate increased customer engagement to delivering operational efficiency for field or remote employees. Having a mobile app can also heighten company visibility, improve branding and advertising, and, in some cases, increase revenue. It’s easy to understand why some companies just want to get an app into the market as soon as possible, often without due diligence to ensure that the effort will be beneficial.

One reason for the rush is that the proliferation of mobile technologies happened more quickly than even the most optimistic pundits could have guessed. In fact, in 2013 The Wall Street Journal estimated annual revenues of $25B for the app economy – one that didn’t exist five years ago.

According to its updated five-year report, Flurry, a leading mobile measurement and advertising platform, confirms that the apps market is not only strong, it’s growing. Apps are now responsible for 86% of mobile data usage, up from 80% a year ago. Another key indicator: mobile web browser usage has dropped from 20% to 14%.

According to Nielsen Ratings, more than 70% of mobile data usage is driven by the top 50 apps. The vast majority of apps languish, even if they’re well designed, because the business and user needs driving them were either not carefully considered or were in conflict with one another. The lack of a clearly defined mobile strategy or product roadmap can mean an app’s failure to thrive in the marketplace.

If your competitor has an app, does that mean that you need one as well? Perhaps, but not without careful thought. Not every app—simply by virtue of being an app—adds value to customers, users or the company that develops it. To avoid app failure, you need to take the time to develop a strategic, holistic approach that evaluates and prioritizes business, technology and customer requirements in order to drive the solutions that address your mobile challenges. In the evaluation stage, expert guidance on development and deployment strategies can be invaluable. Taking the time to really think about your mobile strategy from the start requires patience, but a “just get it done” approach won’t yield the best results.

A mobile strategy is essential to remain competitive in today’s market place, but before you dive into the app development process, consider these points:

  1. What is the purpose of your app?
    Mobile apps can be a quick and convenient way for users to access custom content – but only your most used or most critical features/functions. You need to know the information that is user essential. Poor planning can leave both power users and those with more limited technical skills frustrated and unable to do what they need to do.
  2. How is your mobile effort advancing your broader business goals and in what context?
    Users need a reason to engage with you on mobile. Your app should deliver something users can’t get from your website, in an email or at a retail store. Whether that’s streamlined functionality, speed, unique content or incentives such as loyalty or rewards programs, your app must be markedly different and enhance the relationship you have with your users.
  3. Can you commit the appropriate assets?
    Many companies budget for app development, but then believe their investment is complete once the app is launched. That is simply not the case. Mobile apps require regular feature, functionality, security and branding updates. Your app will need dedicated development resources (either outsourced or in-house) so issues can be addressed quickly.
  4. Are you realistic about the timeline?
    As indicated above, you need a period of time to conduct due diligence at the start of the project in order to develop the right mobile experience for your users. Be realistic about the timeframe for planning, design, and development. In addition, you need to ensure your infrastructure is prepared for the considerably increased traffic an app will drive to your network. Not only will you need to process and store massive data and metadata, you need to prepare for the security issues inherent in mobile platforms and always-on wireless access.

Is your organization ready for a mobile app? Mobile is obviously important and the development of an app may be necessary for your company or brand to stay competitive, but don’t rush into it. Providing a poor mobile experience to your users will not have the intended result, so consider the above questions carefully and approach mobile strategically.