Does your company need a mobile business app?

With the recent increase in popularity of tablets and smartphones, mobile business applications have become all the rage and the new digital darlings of the high tech industry and beyond. However, for many businesses the question still remains… Can my company truly benefit from a customized mobile business app? Well, the answer truly depends. Every company differs both in terms of organizational needs and business processes. Your company’s specific answer will rely heavily upon your organization’s individual needs as well as your anticipated or desired ROI. ROI, in this case can be described as the traditional monetary Return on Investment, additional company or brand awareness, as well as increased social media gains or awareness. We’ve put together a quick list of a few key considerations that may be useful when contemplating your first foray into the mobile business application development arena:

1.Defining the app’s target audience and purpose: First, determine what’s truly fueling your company’s desire or need for a mobile app. There can be several reasons why you should or should not invest in a custom app. Here are a few of our favorite things to ask clients during the initial discovery phase of any mobile application development project. These questions often bring forth valuable information… Does your company need a customer driven end user application? If so, will it be used to connect or perhaps help you better communicate or build relationships with your customers? Does your company need a consumer side functional app such as a smartphone ecommerce platform that integrates seamlessly with your customer’s online and offline shopping experiences, behaviors, and patterns? Can your company benefit more or less by having a highly customized internal employee communication tool or business productivity app? Do you need another more extensive type of app variation, a mobile site, or perhaps even after consultation, determining that you need nothing at all? Which platforms will you target? iOs (iPhone/iPad) or Android devices, or both. While this list is by no means all-inclusive, we feel it provides a great starting point and springboard for extracting new ideas along with bringing project clarity and focus.

2.Customization and features: Secondly, once the app’s target audience and purpose is determined. The next step is defining the features and the level of customization. This will depend solely on the type of app, but it’s a good idea to have a wish list of all of the features and functions that you would ideally want and need in an app. Your developer will be able to tell you what is or isn’t possible from a technical standpoint as well as inform you of new ideas and additional technical features that may prove useful to your overall project.

3.Expenses, resources: Finally, developing a customized app can be an expensive undertaking. The level of customization and features that are unique and proprietary to your company’ s business process will undoubtedly increase the development cost of your app in what may seem like a never ending upward trajectory. However, it is a good idea to keep in mind that the list of must have features and functionality can sometimes be divided into a secondary list of features that can in most cases be built out or developed later in a phase two project or a second-generation version of your app. This method can help control costs and while each project is different, it is wise to set aside a relatively substantial budget for the initial development of your company’s mobile application. A good rule of thumb is the more customized or unique the feature, the more resources will be required, increasing expense.

4.Alternative options: Are there any alternatives to creating a customized mobile app? Yes. As mentioned, the ultimate determinant of whether you will or will not need a custom mobile app is again dependent upon the nature of your business. If you have a current website, that’s primarily content driven and does not include any advanced functionality like e-commerce, then a mobile version of your existing website may be the perfect accompaniment. Otherwise, in order to provide an app that serves as a companion tool for your business delivering equal or perhaps even greater functionality, a fully developed mobile app may be the best option for your company. Remember to always clearly define the purpose of your app and its functionality to guarantee the best results possible while packing in all of the necessary and expected user functionality. Good Luck!

We’ve included a nifty diagram below from our friends over at Mashable that explains the current App Economy in pretty striking detail. The diagram summarizes a few additional key points when considering a consumer side mobile app.

We hope you’ve found the provided information useful. If you need help developing a tablet or smartphone app for your business, contact us here. We’d love to hear from you.

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mobile devices photo: Ilaria Mauric via photopin cc