Mobile applications are transforming business

Mobile applications are transforming today's business operations. Here are 10 key lessons to learn before starting on your mobile app journey:

  1. Learn the merits of a ‘mobile first’ approach – Instead of focusing on the systems you already have and how you can make them work for mobile, think about how mobility can transform your business strategy. Think about the ways that mobile applications can help to drive productivity, grow revenues, strengthen customer engagement and extend the reach of your business – both internally and externally. Think along the lines of Instagram which launched as an iPhone only app and quickly cornered the market for image driven social networking.
  2. Avoid the bandwagon; only developing mobile applications in response to a true business requirement. Too many costly apps are developed out of a mistaken desire to get into the mobile environment before competitors. Don’t replicate what’s already fit for purpose, be that desktop applications or corporate websites. Apply a thorough business case process scrutinising: the business need, the development task and ongoing ease of management.
  3. Avoid islands of mobility - Take a holistic view to creating and managing mobile applications, avoid creating islands of mobility that prove hard to maintain, soon become obsolete and don’t fit into wider business and IT strategies. Establish strong app-management policies, adopt application lifecycle processes and look for common/reusable elements to cut costs and speed time-to-market.
  4. Bridge the gap between IT and decision makers. AppCelerate and IDC identified how IT departments and business leaders both see each other as the main drivers of mobility. Avoid IT teams backing away from fast paced, creatively driven mobile projects - forcing users to employ external agencies who deliver non-strategic solutions. Avoid frustrated workers taking matters into their own hands, migrating to unmanaged third-party solutions such as DropBox and Yammer. Renegotiate the contract with IT to ensure they lead and manage mobility.
  5. An App is for life not just for Christmas. 78% of corporate mobile apps are abandoned soon after first use. Make your app ‘sticky’ by marketing to users before, during and after launch. Offer technical support and employ usability testing early in development. Ask users for feedback and take heed. Set achievable objectives and when you hit these, tell your users the app’s successful.
  6. Should I go native? We all know our smartphone apps are generally more capable and intuitive than web based content, using native abilities of the device to enhance user experiences way beyond the desktop. From scanning with in-built cameras, to geo-tagged solutions, use native capabilities to underpin innovate adoption of IT.
  7. Keep it simple and build for change. Your applications will evolve to reflect market dynamics, so it’s important to make sure that mobile apps can easily be updated without costly redevelopment or external agency support. You’ll also need to ensure the ongoing control and security of your apps to avoid possible issues in the future.
  8. Enable important trends such as Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and IT Consumerisation. Break down barriers to adoption by allowing users to access apps on their own devices, but you’ll need to employ strong policies to manage security and to separate business and personal data. Use gamification and proven design techniques to make apps more intuitive, and more like the polished applications staff use as consumers.
  9. Get out into the audience, prioritise mobility for IT teams and key decision makers, enabling them to get amongst colleagues and customers in a mobile IT context - not just as early adopters but also as evangelists and innovators - looking for new uses of mobile technology to drive business benefit.
  10. Embrace the future. The pace of change in mobility is astounding; in the past two years Facebook’s active mobile users have almost tripled. The smartest organisations are planning for change and proactively anticipating the market to build competitive advantage