December 27, 2013

Can you afford not to have an app?

Written By Martin Sandhu

In a survey of around 700 companies undertaken by Daniel Burrus, only 4% of respondents had developed any sort of app to assist with supply chain, inventory, purchasing, maintenance or sales/service. When asked a follow up question of whether these businesses expected at least half of the companies in their field to develop an app within the next two years, every single answer was ‘Yes’.

The implied conclusion of the two questions is that currently businesses aren’t focussing on developing their own apps, but that they’re expecting at least half of their competitors to do so in a very short space of time. This could give a distinct competitive advantage to those with the ability to monitor these functions, meaning those with no current plans could quickly lose ground to those willing to invest in newer methods of working.

It also gives some indicators as to the understanding of the directors of the companies surveyed. They recognise that the use of mobile devices has become the preferred and most active way of accessing the internet. The ability to connect with a device that is always at hand means that people are much more likely to access for a few minutes at a time, rather than creating a block of time to sit and work.

Although the proliferation of mobile computing has been recognised, it’s not being utilised for the benefit of businesses. The cost of deploying business intelligence in every function is falling at an almost incredible rate and the explosion of mobile devices is rocketing, meaning that the obstacles in the way of app development are being removed.

It’s entirely possible that some still view apps as ‘phone fillers’ which amount to nothing more than Angry Birds or Twitter; some may think that there’s enough variety in the various app stores for employees to buy an off-the-shelf app which will serve purpose. As with any business product, those that are willing to tailor their endeavours to a specific goal could gain significant advantages over those using a less suitable software.

Creating something tailored to your own business doesn’t have to be a mammoth undertaking or become a drain on your day to day activities. Using current resources, such as your own in house IT/Systems team mean an inbuilt understanding of your business and its requirements and processes, reducing the time needed for the developer to grasp what would be required from the app. Even if the existing team can’t spare the time or lack the necessary programming skills to create the app, there are many independent developers available for hire to work alongside a team. Although it requires extra investment initially, the edge gained could more than recoup the cost.

The shift from desktop to mobile computing is already in full swing and is very unlikely to ever swing back, meaning people are spending less and less time in front of a traditional computer. Being able to convert traditional ‘dead’ time such as train commutes by using a bespoke, tailored app to keep business running smooth may pay much larger dividends than waiting for someone else to solve the problem.