Mobile apps are like a new puppy left home alone – they’re everywhere and into everything.
That’s because mobile devices are no longer just a means to keep in touch with family and friends. They have become valuable tools for enterprises to stay connected with their employees and customers. With the right applications, mobile devices are raising productivity, lowering communication costs and driving efficiencies.
Many enterprise applications are already being delivered through apps, and in 2014, most of them will be delivered through mobile devices. Mobile applications are already guilty of transforming the internet from being web-centric to app-centric. They have become the entry point to access information, entertainment and indeed enterprise communications as well as solutions.
That, in conjunct with the rise of the cloud and Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, puts pressure on software developers to deliver solutions in a way that’s dramatically different than in the past. Statistics show that the number of mobile devices in an enterprise environment will outnumber PCs this year. This means that every software company should be ramping up their mobile application platforms to be better capable, robust and resilient if they want to deliver the goods. Consumers – whether individuals or the corporate sector – are demanding omniscience from mobile devices.
What are the top 5 considerations you should have in your 2014 strategy?
Choose a niche to take the lead
With every developer out there trying to deliver apps for the mobile space, the arena will get more crowded than ever before. But not all apps are equal. Of the millions and millions of apps released last year, only a few thousand are doing well and a handful earning millions in revenue. What space do you want to occupy? Once you answer that question, you can map the in-house talent to apply to your goal. Professor S. Sadagopan, Director of the premium Indian Institute of Information Technology –Bangalore, puts it bluntly: “You’ll find that in apps development there is considerable difference in the quality of output from developers – ranging from amazing, great, good, and terrible to those that suck. This needs to be addressed. Every app released must be consistently good; otherwise it’s just time and money down the drain.”
One app, multiple networks
Apps must be supported across multiple networks. And BlackBerry’s Messenger (BBM) is a great example of why this matters. In December last year, the company announced that it had just added 40 million iOS and Android users in 60 days, taking the total to 100 million users in just six months. BBM has become a mobile-first, cross-platform service competing with Twitter and Skype, and even perhaps Facebook and LinkedIn. BlackBerry may have lost out to smart phones but this app is likely to resurrect the brand.
The company is smartly enhancing features by adding voice capability to allow free voice calls over Wi-Fi or a data connection. In addition, topic-based chatting with other BBM users via Channels is likely to make it a good Facebook/LinkedIn substitute. This app is a winner, no doubt about it.
Device neutral distribution
Apps distribution must be device neutral. A good example of a winner-app in this category is Kindle. While initially the e-reader had its own captive device, now Kindle can be downloaded on personal computers too. The challenge for app developers is to ensure the apps deliver the same quality user experience, no matter what the device.
Use 3D vision for better results
The best apps will be those that leverage mobile specific capabilities like augmented reality, location sensing, 3D and more. For instance, ResolutionTube, a Seattle-based startup, raised $1.5 million in seed funding six months ago for an augmented reality app that helps technicians resolve problems quicker. Using the smartphone app, the technician can scan the serial number that connects to the ResolutionTube knowledge base. If the technician needs further help, the app can be used to contact an expert over video. The smartphone camera allows the expert to look at the troublesome equipment and advise the technician if need be by using a whiteboard to draw and show what the technician needs to do to resolve the issue.
Big Data on small devices
“Mobile apps need to get Big Data-ready,” says Suresh Narasimha, Founder & CEO, TELiBrahma Convergent Communications, a leader in contextual mobile solutions. Mobile devices generate a lot more data, and this can be used for better and continuous analytics he says. The next step would be apps that deliver instant action possibilities. For example, analytics may point to a product you have been looking at but not bought. A mobile app that enables e-commerce can offer a discount, pushing you off the fence into making the purchase. Another app that allows you to make an m-payment will close the loop instantly.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) apps will be available to consumers on demand. Mobile CRM usage will rise this year as user adoption, sales productivity, sales effectiveness, timely follow-up of leads and improved lead conversion rates all continue to be as important as when business was being done without computers, only perhaps a hundred-fold in volume terms. The strategy here should be not to reinvent the wheel but to partner with those who’ve already built the base. There’s always room for enhancing a well-designed and robust app.
Pursuing a niche or mass market is a call individual developers will have to make for themselves. But apps developers can’t afford to wait. The time is right to get mobile apps into development now. Apply strong apps development processes and look ahead to build in a mobile-centric security management framework to help future proof your apps.
Your strategy should be to grab such nascent opportunities before they scatter.