If you follow the tech blogosphere at all, you’ve undoubtedly read that we’ve moved into a so-called “post-PC” era, where mobile devices are seen as having usurped traditional desktop/laptop technology. Whether or not you agree that such a transition has actually occurred, the exponential growth in the use of mobile devices is certainly undeniable.
The upshot of this growth is the equally undeniable ramifications for business. There is great opportunity to be had, but a bit of new thinking and a willingness to embrace new challenges is required.
We know for certain that growing numbers of our existing and potential customers are now carrying app-capable devices on a 24-hour basis. They can, and increasingly expect to be able to interact with our businesses whenever they wish, regardless of where they happen to be. On top of that, they are expecting that functionality and experience to constantly improve.
Clearly, the mobile app is the secret sauce that makes it all possible. Without apps (and often the backend servers that support them), mobile devices have little value except perhaps as a phone. The new reality of being able to transact business in the palm of one’s hands, and in some cases having products delivered there as well, means that software, not the device, is the new coin of the realm.
The classic factors that drove your business in the past are now driving the need for your business to have a mobile software strategy going into the future:
- Customer demand. Increased mobility is driving an increased desire among customers to transact business on their mobile devices. The good ole’ face-to-face method of delivering your products and services may no longer be good enough to keep you competitive. Much like having a good website has become a necessity for being credible, so too will having one or more meaningful apps.
- Revenue growth. Your company’s IP is a potential goldmine. If you’re in the services business, you’ve accumulated a tremendous amount of intellectual property that can be monetized in new ways. What industry specific information or processes do you possess that can be delivered via mobile app? How might such an app be able to expand your markets and increase revenues? Think of it as using a power driver vs. a screw driver.
- The barrier to entry (i.e. cost) is relatively low. Developing apps for your business does not necessarily mean a substantial investment in your own in-house development team. If you do choose to keep things in-house however, the tooling required to build apps has never been better or more affordable, and the talent pool of competent app developers is growing daily. Out-shopping the development can be done affordably onshore or offshore. Depending on your target audience, marketing your apps could be more of a challenge than actually developing them. Your existing customer base is a great a place to start. If you can get them excited, they will get the word out for you.
- Competitors. Your competitors will have a mobile strategy. Count on it. Chances are good that some of them have not only crafted their mobile software strategy, but are already executing it.
The rise of mobile software provides an unprecedented opportunity to bring existing customers more value and expand into new markets at lower costs. A good app strategy can also tighten the relationship with existing customers and turn them into Raving Fans that bring new customers. So rather than think of it as just Yet Another Thing IT needs to do, consider viewing mobile software as a key enabler for improving business performance.
What ideas do you have for converting your IP into valuable apps?