According to a recent MTV Networks consumer survey, 83 percent of daily mobile app users believe they're 'addicted' to apps. And indeed, it's hard to be in a public place today without seeing people using apps on their phones.
It's no wonder then that corporate management has caught 'app fever' too. Imagine the brand loyalty and customer engagement that will come from having your company's app on everybody's phone!
Yes, and imagine that nobody wants it on their phone and you've wasted a huge amount of money with no results. That's not meant to be discouraging. In fact, your company very likely could benefit from having its own app. But only if you go about the implementation right.
And that means answering some practical questions first.
Practical Question 1: Are apps just for customers?
Many managers automatically associate apps with customer usage. There are, however, many reasons to have company apps for internal use. A company-internal app can be a great way to organize internal communications, enabling employees to securely message, chat, and share files.
At the same time, be careful not to reinvent the wheel. There are many company communications tools out there already, such as Slack, Redbooth, and Wrike. Kronos is a popular choice for managers to approve time cards and employee work shift changes on the fly.
Before you commit company resources to an internal app, check to see if what you need is already out there. You could be saving your company a lot of time and money.
Practical Question 2: Why would customers want your app?
App addiction translates into app clutter. With phones cluttered with apps, customers are reluctant to download yet another app unless it has some value to them personally. Before you commit to building a company app, think objectively about how customers will be using the app for their personal benefit.
Here are some specific examples of customer-desired app functions: “. . . general info, prices, booking forms, search features, user accounts, messengers, news feeds, and much more,” writes Melanie Haselmayr in Forbes Magazine.
Practical Question 3: Does value exceed cost?
According to app development experts, even a very basic app is going to cost over twenty thousand dollars. Add back-end architecture, and the price can run to a hundred thousand dollars.
So will it be worth it? There are two ways of looking at a cost-value analysis.
The first is in terms of projected increase in revenue versus the projected cost of creating and maintaining the app. This kind of analysis appears objective, but can be tricky to pin down. For example, suppose it turns out that ten percent of future bookings are through the mobile app. Are those additional bookings, or were they cannibalized from phone and traditional website bookings?
Sometimes quantity-less 'intangibles' can end up having a very tangible effect on company revenues. For example, what will customers think if your competitor has an app and your company doesn't? Can you afford to be seen as behind the times? Can you afford to not be seen at all?
Question 4: Who will control it?
It may seem that the affordable path to app development is by having it done in-house. But the skills that make a great IT person aren't the same as those that make a great web developer, and still other skills are needed to become an app developer.
The cost-effective solution of using your own staff to develop an app doesn't need to backfire. With training at a state-of-the-art web development bootcamp, your IT group can be brought up to speed on what they need to know to produce effective mobile web applications. The added costs of developing in-house will then be balanced by the long-term benefits of retaining control of the app's code.