As the app development market continues to grow and is predicted to grow even more, its clear that understanding the value of apps is important to companies both large and small.
When considering apps and app development most people instantly think about
- Games: Games like candy crush and 2048 that are the core of most app stores.
- Social networks: Apps that support large social networks like twitter or facebook.
- Companion apps: Those that act as a companion to a larger service like Amazon, Ebay or BBC news.
- Trinket apps: The small apps that flood the app markets with little value, think iFart and light saber apps.
Whilst these do represent the vast majority of apps out there right now, there are a lot of other opportunities out there for companies both large and small. Here are 3 ways building an app could help your business.
Apps for mobile devices can be extremely effective in enabling your workforce, particularly if your team is not based in the office. Mobile devices present a few unique benefits that a traditional laptop might not, here are a few:
- Ease of access: Mobile phones are generally much easier to carry, quicker to take out of your pocket and turn on than a laptop.
- Connectivity: Generally speaking mobile devices are far more connected than laptops. This means that in addition to being easier to access, they can also access information located on central servers more easily.
- Camera: Mobile devices have a camera and allow you to take high quality images. These images can then be saved very quickly and efficiently.
- Location: Location can also be accessed on mobile devices allowing for automatic presenting of data based on location, or automatic tagging of location on collection of data.
Given these benefits, a mobile workforce could be enabled in any number of ways previously impossible, impractical or just plain difficult. Some examples are:
- Providing of real time business intelligence reporting to business managers during visits to clients premises. This reporting could react to live updates from business managers as they speak with clients and make notes on their device.
- Recording of important information during site visits using cameras and GPS data. This would streamline site inspections, and ensure all images and findings are recorded in real time, reducing post processing.
- Real time fault logging, as and when engineers or inspection staff find problems on site. This fault logging could contain more detailed photographs and videos of findings, and allow a more immediate response.
One of the most efficient ways to improve and streamline processes is to take out the unnecessary steps. When looking at multi step processes that involve the collection and processing of data, it is often clear that there are multiple redundant steps where data is moved from one format to another, or one device to another.
Mobile apps represent an excellent opportunity to remove some of this redundancy by saving and syncing data as and when it happens. A couple of examples of this are:
- Submitting and authorizing of timesheets directly on device using digital signatures, rather than printing of timesheets, getting them signed, scanning and sending.
- Submitting of expense claims by scanning receipts directly on devices using the camera, and submission directly to expense system for authorization.
A final idea for getting the most out of mobile apps in your organisation is surrounding collaboration. Given that collaboration is a key indicator of success, leverage mobile devices to imporve this makes good business sense.
The biggest advantage that mobile devices have is that they are almost always carried, frequently checked and can receive push notifications. This combinations can improve collaborating on documents and projects. For example:
- Push notifications could be sent to key team members to review, and possibly approve documents before approval. These notifications could then be reacted to immediately cutting out more unneccessary steps in the document collaboration process.
- Quicker communications through provision of chat mechanism to facilitate project progress. This chat could be available both online and offline, stored against relevant project work items and accessible from any location.
Clearly the world of business apps is only just beginning to explode, with the clear focus up until now on consumer apps. There is a huge opportunity for businesses of all sizes to capitalise on mobile devices, and getting ahead now could provide very real cost savings and competitive advantages.
Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought regarding business apps. I’d really like to hear what your thoughts are on the future of apps in businesses, whether larger enterprises or SMB’s so please leave a comment or drop me an email.