Why your IT team has to provide better mobile apps for you to stay competitive

Mobile apps are the new business card. They provide your brand with instant recognition and awareness, which helps you communicate more effectively with your customers.


The importance of mobile apps in business

The mobile app market is expanding rapidly. In the past decade, smartphone sales have skyrocketed all over the world. About 3.5 billion people were using smartphones globally by the end of 2020. In the same year, the estimated sale of smartphones was 1.4 billion. Resultantly, the demand for mobile apps among most big firms and businesses increased. It makes sense- because mobile apps go beyond delivering services and goods to customers, business owners use apps now to amplify their Return on Investment (ROI) in multiple ways. From learning more about your consumer base to brand promotion, there's almost no limit to how much utility you can get from them!

That's not all. An analysis by Nielsen reveals that the average U.S. smartphone user accesses at least 27 apps per month. And, contrary to popular opinion, people do not spend all their time on their phones. But, on average, they spend five and a half hours a day connecting with the world via their mobile devices. Fortunately for marketers, people use their mobile devices for much more than just chatting with friends or catching up on the latest celebrity news. They spend an average of 25 minutes per day using their phones to make purchases online, most times from companies they've never interacted with before.

As a result of this consumer behavior and the influence it has begun to have on the overall economy, mobile devices are one of the first ways consumers interact with new brands. Thus, creating mobile apps is key for companies that want to grow their businesses because it allows them to reach people wherever they may be when they're ready to buy.

The PYMNTS and Paytronix report, The Digital Divide- Minding the Loyalty Gap, is one of many research reports validating mobile apps' utility. For instance, according to this report, 48 per cent of customers used loyalty programs in at least one restaurant during a week-long survey conducted in November 2021. In addition, the report reveals that 50 per cent of loyalty program members for table-service restaurants interacted via their mobile app; 60 per cent of patrons who interacted with a loyalty program used the mobile app for quick-service restaurants (QSR).

The role of IT teams in creating mobile apps

A former VP at Twitter and the founder of Mixer Labs (sold to Twitter in 2009), Elad Gil kickstarted Google's mobile efforts in 2004. Google's mobile team at the time "consisted of 1/4 of an engineer dedicated to maintaining an old WAP search server on the brink of collapse". Gil pulled together Google's first mobile team and helped lay the groundwork for Google Mobile Maps and Android. Which would mean he knew the inside-out about mobile project development.

In a TechCrunch article from 2010, Gil writes that mobile development is no different from other software development- "the natural impulse of someone doing mobile development for the first time is to assume that mobile is somehow different from other software development. This leads to hiring mobile 'experts', many of whom lack solid consumer product experience. They may have worked on handset design or for a large carrier. While mobile client development obviously differs from web development (since you can't just push a bug fix to all devices), it is very similar to any other form of consumer client."

In 2010, mobile apps were new. With the prevalence of smartphones in the early 2000s, it was only a matter of time before developers started creating apps that could be downloaded onto these phones. Gil would have been right with his point of view in this context. Nowadays, though, dismissing a mobile development team as just another "software development team" is foolish.

The Nielsen report quoted earlier found that over 70 per cent of people's mobile app usage comes from the top 200 apps on their phones. Considering the Apple app store grows by 1,000 apps per day and Android by 500, it's safe to say that most of those apps developed flop. The challenge is reaching and maintaining a top 200 status for your app among all the other similar apps in the market today. While the user's threshold for how many apps they use at one time has increased, there are facets of successful app building that make all the difference in user adoption- back-end features and functionality like cloud computing technology, for instance. And that's where a competent IT team with expertise in mobile development come into the picture.

When a business hires a mobile app development team, it needs to know who will handle its project, why they are the best for the job and their credentials. After all, much money has been pumped into the project and wanting to see great results from the IT team in charge isn't an extraordinary demand.

How to choose the right tech partner to develop an app

To build a mobile app that meets the client's specifications and targets their niche market in the most efficient way possible, it is vital that the app development partner has deep knowledge of the industry, a diverse range of development skills, and experience developing mobile apps. An effective app development team also knows how to ensure that the app meets customer requirements.

However, there's no need to assemble a large team of application developers if you can hire a few specialists. But they need to be niche experts. You need to assemble a diverse team -- a visionary expert (or project manager), designers, developers and quality assurance engineers are just a few of the many people who can help you accomplish your goals. Marketing managers are important if you're looking for someone to help you sell your product

Who needs to be your mobile technology partners?

Broadly, an app development team comprises-Visionary or Project Manager- A visionary knows how to get things done. The ultimate goal of a visionary is to make the product come alive in an exciting way. The project manager should have a good background in many areas, including mobile app development features and project management. The key responsibilities include-

  • Strong technical background
  • In-depth understanding of the client's business
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Team management skills

Designers-A team of designers should consist of- strategists, navigators, visual designers and content planners. Design implementation may seem like one-step work, but it takes many steps. First, designers process the requirements. Then they devise the app's navigation mechanics and create basic wireframes. Next, designers work on the look and feel of the app, replicating identical UI/UX for specific platforms or creating a standalone one for hybrid apps. Designers are flexible in their development processthey prefer to work on delivering the UI/UX along with testing it- they step back while users try out their current project and then discuss changes at any stage.

Developers- When the UI/UX layouts are ready, they are passed off to Android or iOS developers for further processing. Mobile app developers must have the necessary skills to work properly with each platform, viz- For iOS - Objective-C/Swift; For Android - Java/Kotlin; For Windows Phone - C#. When it comes to cross-platform development, the hard skills requirements are different- C# (Xamarin), JavaScript (React Native), HTML/CSS/JavaScript (PhoneGap and Cordova).

The team should have a diverse set of hard and soft skills. The members must be flexible and open to change, possess a critical mind and a vast knowledge of their domain, and possess the desire to create the highest quality product possible. A strong team that communicates well together will be able to create a great app.

Quality Assurance Experts- An app's QA experts are the first, last and most critical audience. They test an app and decide when it's ready to be launched in the market or presented to customers. But before that, QA analysts should identify all the options for improvement and establish how those improvements are necessary.

Marketing Experts- Marketing is a team effort. Marketers, copywriters, and sales representatives play their part in converting the product into profit- they create promotional materials, write selling texts, and develop and implement strategies to promote and sell the product. Adding marketers to the mobile app development team is an organic move. Otherwise, why create a mobile app if you don't promote and profit from it?

The top three elements you need in a custom mobile app

Businesses considering developing mobile apps face serious competition, and it takes a lot to stand out. Your mobile app needs more than just a good idea. It requires an understanding of what users want and expect, as well as an understanding of the many factors that can impact its success. There are a lot of great mobile apps in the digital universe; for your business app to have a shot at success, these three basic elements are necessary-

1. Takes consumer insight into account- The difference between a good app and a great app is almost always insight into what consumers want. Don't rush into designing your mobile app. Before you begin, ask yourself if you are inspired enough to take the project on. It's crucial to gain insight from your friends and family, who will be the end-users of your app. Developing a product without testing it with real consumers can lead to disastrous results.

2. Is clean and simple- Many mobile users prefer to keep the operating speed of their phone as fast as possible to navigate, play games with higher graphics and enjoy other benefits that come with a faster handset. Spring cleaning is a constant activity and can be done manually or through automatic processes within the device. Your apps that take up too much space are first on the chopping block during this "cleaning spree" and will most likely be removed if they do not provide enough value or if the user would rather keep one or more of their lesser-used phone features than your app.

3. Solves a problem- A great app is one that you can't stop using or solves really big life problems. To create a great app, you should have a valid reason for building it. Mobile apps are extensions of businesses and brands. They represent a business in its organic way, but they're not just meant to sell things. For instance, an inventory management app can't just have basic inventory management as its functionality. It needs to provide additional features like barcoding and tagging, inventory tracking and forecasting, reporting tools and easy integration with other apps used in businesses using the inventory management app.

Three things to make a mobile transformation project a success

A smartphone is your customer's new favorite companion. It's always by their side, ready to provide a quick answer to questions and requests or to help them find a service location. And customers expect you to communicate with them via their mobile devices. An app allows them to access your service anytime, anywherejust like they would when visiting you in person. With the customer data, you can improve their experience making it more personal and meaningful. And it also gives you a chance to customize the way they interact with your brand. Three things that can make your mobile transformation successful-

1.Improve the customer experience- Think outside the box. If you think inside the box, you're too late. Instead, think about your customer, who they are and what they want. If you're not sure, ask them. Then use technology to integrate the online and offline worlds so that your customers get the most seamless experience possible.

For instance, Fresh Griller's managers were using Excel spreadsheets and email to send the weekly employee scheduleand they were wasting countless hours each week handling shift changes and other employee-related requests. The free mobile app Zip Schedules eliminated all of that hassle, giving them more time to focus on customers and improving customer satisfaction.

2.The cloud is the new black- Move your data to the cloud. Connected cars and mobile devices are generating an ever-increasing amount of dataand collecting, analyzing, and sharing it are key to your mobile transformation strategy. For example, a drive-thru lets you pay with selfies, sensors telling you when to turn your car on and off, and facial recognition systems to replace your keys. All these things are possible because the data is stored in the cloud.

3.Create an ecosystem- An ecosystem is a delicate environment in which different organisms live in balance. To build an ecosystem, you must allow third parties to contribute to your product and allow them to use the product as a means of developing their applications. Once the ecosystem is in place, competitors will find it difficult to replicate. It will give you a competitive advantage. Take, for instance, the ZipPOS app, which gives restaurant business owners the flexibility to monitor the real-time performance of their business. But what is even more helpful is its ability to easily integrate with other existing applications in businesses to collect data and create reports.

Best mobile apps help organizations engage with and retain customers

It's time for IT teams to catch up with mobile technology. When everyone is using mobile apps and your business is not, or if you are still using your old technology, it puts you at a disadvantage. Mobile transformation is not about replacing an analogue product with an app. It's about manipulating data and using it to enhance the customer experience and increase efficiency. Effective mobile apps create a competitive advantage that can distinguish between being disrupted and being the disruptor.

In the current scenario, consumers spend more time with their phones than with their significant others, with power users spending more than eight hours on their devices. As a result, smartphone owners use apps more than they use forks and spoons. And future-focused businesses can leverage this widespread app use to their advantage.

Finally, apps allow businesses to resolve customer questions and make them aware of discounts, offers, and promotions. They also provide a platform for companies to interact with customers and give them the necessary information directly.

Photo by dcstudio

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