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What Mobile Apps Can Do For Your Business - Choosing The Right Type Of App

January 21, 2016

The starting point for choosing an app is determining what business need it might meet or what opportunity it might create.

This is the third article in a seven-part series outlining best-practices and advice for leveraging mobile apps for your business. To read part two, click here.

The starting point for choosing an app is determining what business need it might meet or what opportunity it might create. Bratton’s book, Billion Dollar Apps: How to Find and Implement a Winning Mobile Strategy explores the subject, and he is passionate about this part of the process. He suggests a stepped approach:

  1. Outline the business opportunity. Start by white-boarding your business strategies and goals for the year, (e.g., increase revenue, improve margins, reduce customer churn, etc.)
  2. Identify how you will get there. Highlight one or more workflows for each goal. For example, if one of your goals is to boost sales by 10 percent for the year, list all the workflows you might use to make that happen: lead generation, catalog creation, face-to-face sales, order fulfillment, etc.
  3. Know the roadblocks. Identify all obstacles preventing optimal functionality of those workflows (paper order forms, manual data entry into CRM systems, lack of remote functionality for routine processes, etc.)
  4. Apply mobile apps. Looking at the roadblocks, envision ways you can apply mobile apps to neutralize them. For example, a searchable catalog on a tablet might reduce the time sales reps spend writing orders; an app that generates price quotes might alleviate order-entry mistakes and speed up fulfillment.
  5. Score the apps. Calculate the value each app might provide to your business—increased productivity, additional revenue, higher profits, etc.—to determine potential ROA (return on app).
  6. Assess other criteria. These are specific to each business but often include such items as the cost of implementing an app, the scope of increased demand it will put on existing IT resources and personnel, and how widespread adoption of the app is likely to be.

At the outset of developing a mobile-app strategy, business owners should ask themselves a straightforward question: Do I want my brand, products, and services in the pocket of my customers so they can engage with me any time of the day? “That might sound a little facetious, but any organization needs to understand the ultimate prize at the end of the process,” Eads says. A wide variety of questions need to be answered by the business owner and/or a trusted advisor to help determine whether an app makes sense. What problem(s) are you trying to solve? Is an app the best solution relative to other alternatives? How will an app align with your overall long-term business and digital strategies?

It’s important to start with a clear definition of the customer or prospect the app will be targeting and what it is meant to accomplish. “Many businesses serve very different markets simultaneously,” Eads explains. “For example, it may make sense for the same business to adopt a B2B app for key strategic partners, but not a B2C app. Or, it may make sense to buy or create an app focused on internal ‘customers,’ say a mobile workforce, to solve some of its problems.”

Part Four: What Mobile Apps Can Do For Your Business: Different Paths to Mobile-App Adoption

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