After a relatively slow start in 2013-14, the development of mobile enterprise applications really picked up pace last year. It is expected that, by the end of 2016, all businesses with 1000 or more employees will have at least one dedicated mobile app – with eWeek predicting that the total volume of enterprise apps will witness a two-fold increase from its current level by 2018. Entrepreneurs are increasingly relying on mobile technology – for a wide range of services that can potentially contribute to the growth of their firms. In today’s discourse, we will take stock of some of the key reasons why your business needs a mobile app, pronto:
- Enormous spurt in mobile phone usage – Or, to put things more clearly, the use of smartphones. A recent Gallup report estimated that nearly 75% people in the United States glanced at their handsets at least once in 60 minutes. What’s more – around 91% of the total ‘mobile-time’ is taken up by usage of apps. If your business has a nice and focused mobile application, the opportunity of reaching out to more prospective customers/clients/partners opens up.
- Scope to build a strong brand – Professional mobile app developers highlight brand-building as one of the chief benefits of enterprise applications. Consistency has to be maintained by app-makers, while coding the UI/UX of such apps – so that all the visual elements in it (logo, pictures, symbols, etc.) are the same as those present on the company website. A successful business app drives up user-engagement levels, the ‘effective frequency’ of people interacting with a company increases, and a stronger, more recognizable brand gets built.
- Competitive advantage – As more and more businesses start having their own enterprise apps, this factor gradually erodes. However, use of mobile technology on a full-blown basis is yet to become popular among small businesses, in particular. There is a perception that using business apps might: a) be too expensive, and/or b) pose technical challenges. You can take advantage of this, by coming out with an app for your business – before your competitors do the same. Ultimately, all of your business rivals would move over to the enterprise app bandwagon…and if you can make the first move, there are extra benefits.
- Mobile apps are more engaging than mobile websites – Well, it’s no longer a fair contest. According to a Flurry report, use of the mobile browsers to access the web takes up less than 20% of the total time spent with mobile devices (in the US). On the other hand, mobile apps, as already mentioned above, takes up 85%-90% of the time that users spend with their devices. The total amount of time taken up by the use of digital devices has shot up quite remarkably over the last five years – with software and app development experts estimating a 600%+ growth since 2010. More interestingly, mobile applications have become more engaging than the good ol’ television. If you manage to build a good app for your business, it will grab eyeballs – that’s for sure.
- Smarter, 24×7 marketing – From coupons and loyalty points, to ecommerce support and promotional push-notifications – mobile advertising via apps takes conventional product/service marketing to an altogether different level. The repeat usage of smartphone apps increases the likelihood that people will come across and use your business application – and will find it convenient to use it. The entire process of marketing is faster, easier, and most significantly, cheaper. Entrepreneurs no longer have to go the whole hog of sending mailers, making cold calls, and putting up big billboards (those do help, but they are often not affordable for small business-owners).With mobile apps, you can ‘push’ all the information that your buyers might require, right at their fingertips. Literally!
Note: The strategy, of course, would fall flat on its face – if an enterprise app has undetected bugs and malware in it. On average, 4 out of every 10 applications created for businesses are buggy, and hence, they get uninstalled from handsets pretty soon. This makes a case for businesses to not try to make apps with their in-house IT personnel, and delegating the task to a specialized mobile app development company.
6. Round the clock visibility – A custom iOS or Android application for your business can lend greater exposure for your company than ever before. We have already talked about the dominance of smartphones and apps in the digital world. You cannot really expect people to open their web browsers (on PC or mobile) and visit your site, every time they wish to know something about your company. With an enterprise app, the same queries can be resolved by a couple of taps. In general too, as people repeatedly encounter the icon of your business app, the brand familiarity level goes up.
Note: The human mind registers (consciously or otherwise) all the images and other visual elements in mobile apps. This, in turns, helps in making your business more ‘recognizable’.
7. Connecting with people – Make no mistake – the importance of television ads, banners, hoardings, e-flyers and Facebook ads is still immense. However, all of these channels are one-to-many (i.e., the same message from the source reaches out to the entire audience) and have that ‘oh-that’s just another advertisement’ feel. Mobile apps for business are different in this regard. They can establish interactions on a more personal level with buyers. In essence, an enterprise application will help your business stay ‘closer’ to people, enhance customer loyalty levels, and increase the probability of getting good sales leads. Personalized messages work in a way that general advertisements and sales pitches never can.
8. Serves multiple purposes – From our discussion thus far, it might seem that the only benefits of enterprise mobile apps is towards strengthening the marketing activities and client interactions. Things are not quite that limited though. Experts from the field of enterprise app development report that they are regularly working on applications that pack in various powerful features – like appointment scheduling, business inventory management, real-time chat functionality, and even a direct calling option. You can even include a GPS navigation feature in your app, to guide users to your storefront.
9. Delivering value – Let’s face it, people would need some motivation to actually search for, download, and install your enterprise app. Mobile reward points/loyalty points are probably the best tools to bolster the user-incentive levels in this regard. Virtual loyalty cards can be included in enterprise apps, with QR scanners to read them and add the loyalty points to the users’ accounts. People will definitely find it easier if they can get such value from mobile applications, instead of having to visit the store counters for the same.
10. Business on the go – Lives are busy, there are no two ways about it. People are increasingly purchasing products and services on the move – a fact backed up by the steadily increasing transaction volumes at various e-commerce and m-commerce portals. It is also practically impossible for the modern-day business entrepreneur to stay at office, in front of a computer, all the time. With a properly designed mobile application – doing business becomes easier, and possible from anywhere.
11. The ‘WOW’ factor – For customer retention over the long-run, this is extremely important. You need to move on from looking at individual business transactions as one-off events – and a professionally created enterprise app can help you in ‘delighting’ customers (something extra…over and above the quality your products/services deliver). For example, the app can record the date of birth, anniversary of buyers – and send custom greetings via push notifications on those days. You can easily let your customers know about special offers and seasonal discounts as well.
12. Help is ready at hand – There is a perception (more of a myth!) among small business owners that spending time and resources on building enterprise apps will simply be not worth it. Nothing can be further from the truth. Small and medium-scale businesses stand to gain a lot by planning and implementing a smart mobile strategy – with dedicated mobile apps at the forefront. There are concerns regarding the lack of tech expertise among the IT personnel (to build apps) at such companies too. This is where the importance of specialized Android and iPhone app development companies come into the picture. You can simply do a little research online, find a few suitable app developers, request for free quotes on enterprise apps, and hire their services. Your app, with all the features you wish to be included in it, should be ready in the matter of weeks.
By 2017 Q4, it has been projected that the demand for mobile business applications would become nearly six times the serviceable capacity of in-house IT departments of companies. This, in turn, implies that the services of mobile app companies will become all the more indispensable for corporate entrepreneurs in future. It is time to think beyond consumer applications and games as the ‘only type of apps’…enterprise apps are rapidly growing, and they can give your business a significant edge indeed.