Business Tool or Just a Toy

by Bill Nolan

Now that apps are all the rage, everyone and their brother thinks they need one for their business. When I ask people why they believe they need one, the majority don’t really know. The response is usually something like, “Everyone else has one.” Unfortunately, too many people have jumped on this bandwagon without giving it any serious thought. Keep in mind, the above response usually explains the ridiculous looking blinged-out jeans people bought that now sit in closets collecting dust. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s a smart move. There are so many things to discuss before deciding whether or not an app will benefit your business.

Time for Apps

Let’s take a look at some advantages to a business app…

• Keep your customers happy. An app gives you the ability to reach customers 24/7 and remind them of your services. Push notifications will allow you to instantly alert them of sales, giveaways, and many other time sensitive events in real-time.

• Improve client experiences. Business Apps may also act as extensions of your online social presence and can primarily be used to compliment your business and website. Many service oriented businesses use apps to relay educational information that will spark the interest of their users. In other words, even if your not in a typical “sales” industry, an app may still be useful to you… with a little creative brainstorming.

• Extend your reach with apps. Considering that most people have thirty apps or more on their devices and are download-app-happy, you increase the possibility of reaching someone that’s not familiar with your company, and they could possibly need your services. Maybe they know someone that could. You just gotta real them in. Either way it’s a win win situation for your business and great way to market.

• Don’t forget about revenue. Apps can be money makers. Who couldn’t benefit from such extra cash? Whether you are charging a one-time fee for the app, charging a subscription fee, generating revenue from ads that run on the app or increasing sales because of it, the potential for cash is there.

Sounds great, right? So what’s the catch?

Well, you don’t just snap your fingers and have the world’s greatest app magically appear. Some starter pros and cons to consider…

• How does this app benefit business for you?

• How does this app benefit those using it, and how will it keep them interested?

• How will you receive returns on your investment.. through cold, hard cash, new customers or keeping existing clients returning?

• Who is going to maintain an update this thing?

Almost decided to move forward with that app? How about a little more knowledge?

What type of application do you want, Native, Web or Hybrid? Each one is relatively unique, and they also have their own pros and cons…

NATIVE APPLICATIONS look great and run like a dream on the device. This is due to the fact that they are tailored for a specific operating system. This also means that they are more expensive to develop and maintain as well…

MOBILE WEB APPLICATIONS run on any device and are less expensive to develop. However, they don’t look as clean as native apps and they can’t be distributed through a traditional App Store. The reason you ask… they are technically not apps. They are mobile optimized web pages that are designed to look and function as an app.

HYBRID APPLICATIONS use open web technologies and are then packaged as a native app. Without getting too technical, this type of app gives you the benefits of a fully Native App, but isn’t as costly. One drawback is that this is fairly new technology and that can be good and bad. It’s being tweaked constantly in order to make it better, but it does have issues with bugs infiltrating the programming.

Ready to go? If so, this is no time for your brother’s girlfriend’s sister to handle the job because she likes to play on computers. It’s time to sit down with a professional and discuss your business options available. Let them develop a plan of attack to make your business app become a reality. You want your app to give you that competitive edge!