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Mobile Apps – Get Them Working for Your Business
By: Ruxana D’Vine, Business System Alchemy
As the use of Apps on smartphones and tablets skyrockets, are you using Mobile Apps to further your business? RUXANA D’VINE challenges you to explore ways in which you can use Apps to support and streamline your business processes, keep your customers happy and get your business moving in the right direction.
How well does your business use Mobile Apps? Have you considered where they fit into your company life?
The world of Mobile Apps for phones or tablets has developed almost overnight, sweeping over daily life in a way that has forced acceptance of the new technology without us even noticing it.
Apps are how we do our banking, keep ourselves amused, quickly check our email, download the latest book/magazine/song/movie to a tablet/phone, or connect us to the rest of the world through a vast array of social media options. Yet while we have been very open and embracing of this change in our personal lives, we are yet to fully accept this change in the business world and tend to use Apps as our personal productivity tools.
So why don’t we extend our use of Apps in business? It’s often confusing to know where to start. What should the App do and how will it make a difference to the business? First time business App users often succumb to the temptation of a generic app, thinking it will be a quick and simple business fix. Generic Apps have a lot of benefits, they are cheap, easily accessed via an App Store and can be plugged in with a minimum of fuss.
However, sifting through Generic Apps in order to find something that could suit takes a lot of time. There’s also no guarantee it will work the way you assume it might. Unfortunately, the Generic App is exactly that – designed for the masses and not with your business processes in mind, often with functionality so specific that you might have to change your processes to fit its design. In small bites that might work but if you end up compromising on key business processes then the simplicity isn’t worth it.
Apps provide a golden opportunity to expand your business capabilities and gain a competitive edge. Why settle for generic when you could be creating a business-specific, functionally rich App that makes your business stand out from the pack? Bespoke Apps are simpler to create and more affordable than you might think, provided you handle this mini project the right way.
Get started by thinking about what would make business life easier – is it data capture? Photos? Notes? Time recording? Simpler business forms? There’s no point spending money on a broken process, so use this as the opportunity to be proactive and streamline your processes. Look beyond your current processes to dream up your ideal future state and how you can optimise your workflow.
Next, think about what your customers might want. Is it additional information about the work you have done? Or a way to assist with their business-critical decisions around your product/service? Perhaps a way for them to ‘self-serve’, so they feel independent and autonomous? Or a way for them to confirm their requirements before they buy from you?
Once you have your idea, engage an expert. You don’t need to have all the answers, just your requirements. Rely on your expert to transform them into something incredible. Make sure you pick the right expert, i.e. someone who understands the technology as well as business process.
Finally, pick an expert who uses Agile program management as this will provide shorter development cycles and quick product turnaround. Choosing an organisation that works in this way will give you faster business benefits without the bloated price tag.
Apps are the next frontier in Business IT. Don’t be afraid to be a market leader in your chosen field and harness the technology to turn your business potential into a reality.