Last weeks post focused more on the differences between native and web apps. Beyond the differences between the types of apps, understanding on what use, and for whom the app should be developed for is of vital importance.
Mobile App Development: Focus and Use
External Customer Focus: If you are using your application in order to facilitate consumer to business interaction, you are going to have to make sure it is simple enough for your customers to use, that it has a unique benefit to your consumers, and understand which type of application will produce these desired results. For example, take the RBC Mobile App. Downloadable for iPhone and Blackberry this native app allows people who bank with RBC access to their accounts. The app is quite intuitive, as it is based off RBC’s online banking website, and provides users with clear and useful functions. E.g., access to balances, and ability of move cash around, just to name a few. However, by ignoring the Android Market RBC is limiting itself. The result of this move is consumers who use Android phones might start shying away from RBC. Al least until a android version comes out
Internal Staff Focus: Many businesses might opt to create an application to improve their internal operations. For example, allowing sales personnel to have access to information when in the field. Say, having the full catalogue available on an iPad, which can be automatically updated with inventory levels. This type of application can decentralize a businesses operations, and improve the efficiency of agents in the field. While this is just one example, the overarching question to ask is what processes or activities could benefit from being digitized and mobile.
Keeping it simple: Some of the best applications are ones that simplify already existing functions. For example, your mobile app should not be a downloadable form of your site. Instead, it could be integrated into your website. An application could be designed to allow customers to chat directly with customer service personnel. This is a function you could already have on your site as part of your general customer relations strategy, but by making it into its own application it facilitates communication for those clients who are on the move.
Knowing when it is useful: This is related to the last point. If you do not see a clear need for a mobile application, don’t just get one because everyone else is. A useless mobile app could end up costing you money, and provide your business with little benefit, especially if you have no real interest in it. Under these circumstances it might be better to invest more heavily in a more mobile friendly website. While it does not provide the range of customization functions that an app could, it does allow users on mobile devices better access. As a secondary point if it is the case that your business desires a mobile application, but you cant see a clear use or point out of one. Contacting a developer is a good option, a developer will normally sit down with you and explore some options.
Generally speaking, when looking to invest into creating a more mobile friendly business, it is important to spend enough time in pre – production. Whether it be within your own organization, or with a developer, figuring out the role a mobile application can take is important before sinking money into it. Since an application with out a clear scope of use could result in the cost outweighing the benefits.