Gaming apps, business apps, educational apps, streaming apps……

The list of mobile and tablet app could go on for an eternity it would seem like, and the good news is there are people in the world at this exact moment developing an app that may potentially benefit you some day.

By the end of 2014, the revenue generated by apps amounted to just under $35 billion (Statisa)

It is easy to forget that apps are not just available on our smartphones, but also on tablet devices which continue to be integrated into our lives. Certain apps will be specifically designed for one or both of these platforms as it will be easier to use. For examples Apple’s ‘Numbers’ is a business app which opens a spreadsheet. With so many apps differentiating what they offer to consumers, it can be difficult to determine how a small business could possibly enter the world of apps.

Preparation

Although it is easy to state a handful of reasons why a business should develop an app, understanding the term is a requirement along with a thought about the planning process.

  • What is an app? An app is a shortened down version of the word application. The purpose behind this is because it is software that runs specifically on mobiles and tablets
  • How to design the app: Melanie Haselmayr produced an excellent 12 step guide on how to design your very own application. The key considerations worth noting are that you must know your GOAL and ensure that you conduct RESEARCH into your TARGET MARKET. These two factors should always be considered, not just for designing apps, but also for releasing a new product or expansion into new markets.

The benefits of a business app

  • Allow customers to access your content through all platforms: There was time where customers would try to access a company’s website only to find that it was not mobile compatible. Unfortunately this can still be the case today and this needs to be addressed for all businesses. The growing number of smartphone users has led to a habit of searching for apps rather than visiting websites. A great example would be football clubs who have developed apps so fans can access relevant content far quicker.
  • Develop brand awareness and recognition: If an individual sees your company logo one day and can immediately recall the name, as they saw it in the app store previously, brand recognition has been developed. If someone shows your company’s app to another friend or colleague, people become aware of your brand through word of mouth.
  • Engagement is key: Developing brand awareness and recognition is an achievement in itself, but to make a difference to customers, they must engage with your application. This will involve downloading the app and actually utilising it for its purpose or viewing content on it.
  • Be unique compared to your competitors: They say competition is always healthy for a business as it can keep companies on their toes regarding their activities and responses to competitors. By developing a unique app that offers functions that differ from competitors, you offer your customers a USP which entices them to download your app. It can be difficult to compete in the physical market place, especially for a small scale firm. However, small firms are able to compete with larger ones when it comes to the development of apps so this may be worth considering as ROI can be far higher than what is predicted.

The above information provided is only a cluster of benefits an app can have for an organisation. Of course there is the financial benefit you can gain from an app, which acts as another stream of revenue, but understanding the customer is one of the most vital things to consider in business. So before you decide to charge customers for purchasing the app, think about what benefits there are if it is free instead. More people are likely to test the app, this will lead to engagement with the customers, and if it proves successful, there is a good chance a buzz might just be generated around your app.

Apps for data collection

In a business, there are always bound to be some sort of physical documents or forms which need to be recorded and logged onto a database. This can take some time if they are manually typed, and are prone to errors. Creating a business app for data capture resolves this issue, in particular if there is a lot of information to record. This works in the following way:

  • The data is collected and is currently in its physical format. Examples of this may be paper bank statements or questionnaires.
  • Using a data capture app, the individual can take a picture of the document, and the app will extract the relevant information and process it onto a database in real time.
  • With all the data extracted, individuals can analyse the data and quickly access specific information as it has become digitalised.

These are just some of the benefits of using this technology:

  • Capturing the data doesn’t always require an internet connection. It is possible to record data while offline. This is extremely useful in remote locations where connectivity is difficult
  • Less chance of human error as whatever information is displayed will be what is captured
  • Quicker time to process the information allowing more time for analysis
  • No backlog of forms which need to be recorded into the database
  • No need to delegate manual entry work to employees

Automated data capture technology is changing the way businesses are currently working. Through its implementation, firms are finding that their efficiency is dramatically improving as the time to process and access information has been reduced.