Mobile Phones are no longer only a communication tool but play a major role in doing business online. Today’s phone is no longer a boring device with few keys and ultra small sized screen to make calls and send texts but they have evolved into smart phones and paved the way for conducting business online. These Smart Phones are replacing desktop computing pretty fast to be the mainstream device for Internet browsing.
Mobiles being always at the reach of users, they can use mobile to access information at fingertips. Businesses are leveraging this widespread growth of mobile computing to engage with their customers through Mobile. The mobile App when compared to mobile web, provides better engagement as well as faster access to customers. So users prefer to use a mobile App, instead of opening the browser and typing the URL to access any information.
When a business wants to go mobile, they have 2 options with them e.g. Native Mobile Apps and Mobile Web to offer information, interact with the customers and doing business through mobile. Mobile Apps take advantage of device native features to offer much functionality that mobile web cannot offer. The businesses gradually shift to mobile in the following way:
Normal Website > Mobile Site > Mobile Apps
So a company having a website today will have a mobile App tomorrow. Whether it is a B2C app for enhancing the core business and product offering or a B2B app for Enterprise Resource Planning or for Supply Chain Management, the Apps are becoming inherent part of any business going mobile. When brands and businesses extend their digital strategy to mobile, they go through a three-stage journey. In phase 1 they are in a hurry to launch a mobile app to advertise their product and service offering.
In phase 2, they think of ways to drive core business through the apps. When they become veterans, they come up with ideas to generate revenue out of the Apps. The App store started the Apps economy and the businesses and end users are carrying it forward. The primary benefits of Mobile Apps for business are Speed, Volume of Information, Advertising and the Comfort of doing business anytime anywhere from the mobile.
Mobile Apps usually provide access to same internet services that desktop and notebook offers but at much faster speed and at the touch of a button. Imagine a situation, where in you want to send an email to a client from your notebook. You need to first boot your notebook, open your browser and then type the URL of the mail service provider or open your Email client. This will take you at least 60 to 90 seconds. But if you want to do the same thing, you can just touch the icon of the mobile app for your email and you are in your mailbox in a second.
Mobile Apps store large amount of data within them. So these are perfect for storing product catalogues, video etc. As data is internal to the app, even without an Internet connection work can be done offline and later it can be synchronized and updated.
As Mobile Apps provide better engagement, they can serve as the best advertising platform for businesses. The in-app advertisement through pop up as well as utilizing the actual real estate inside the app can attract users’ attention and provide better conversion. Businesses can use this channel to push new products and updates to customers or rent out the space to advertise other products.
As Mobile offers the convenience of doing business anytime from anywhere, it is gradually the preferred medium to do business. This facilitates real time availability of information to business executives. A survey by Forrester Research in early 2010 indicated that mobile applications for Emergency Response, Sales Force Automation and Customer facing Mobile applications respectively took 24%, 21% and 19% adoption. Apps related to assets, inventory and supply chain management took very low adoption. Highest adoption among corporate users was mobile apps related to email, IM and calendar.
But now the scenario has changed. Corporate like IBM, Google and Apple are creating in house Apps and offering them to employees through intranet based App store to make their work life easier. Through these Apps employees are always connected to the business and can perform task at ease. There are apps for booking conference rooms to approving purchase order. Also availability of Apps like Quick Office, Sales Force Mobile, Sugar Mobile etc are increasingly gaining popularity among businesses.
Industry Specific Mobile Apps
The mobile apps targeted for a specific industry or business vertical serve the task effectively as compared to a generalized app. These kinds of apps take into consideration the core elements of the business segments they cater and come up with a tailored solution. At a broader perspective these industry specific mobile apps adoption is driven by the factors like:
Let’s have a look at the usefulness of mobile apps for different industry.
By using mobile apps for number of systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) a manufacturing industry can improve efficiency, enhance customer and dealer relationship and streamline operations. The mobile apps can help management to identify and resolve problem quickly, locate inventory and update information in real-time. Through the usage of mobile apps, the manufacturers can Lower the cost of production and keep it on schedule, Streamline field service operations, Track and manage progress of shipment.
Governments around the globe are engaged in adopting latest technologies like e-governance and m-governance. Tailor made mobile applications for public safety; traffic compliance, law enforcement etc are rapidly being adopted by governments. Moreover widespread growth of mobile enables government services to reach maximum number of people. The policemen in US are provided with mobile devices with built-in app to access criminal database, which helps in effectively arresting a suspect. The traffic police in Bangalore are provided with a Blackberry mobile to track traffic violation by public. When they catch someone violating traffic rule, they can access all the previous violation record by the person and can impose fine based upon that.
Financial Service (Banking and Insurance)
In financial services, responsiveness to existing customers’ needs and new opportunity is of utmost importance. This can be suitable served by usage of a tailor made mobile app. The field sales executives can be armed with mobile with apps having access to customers’ portfolio during a meeting. This can help in answering customers’ queries instantly and offer them customized investment guidelines.
The mobile apps from banks provide convenience of doing mobile banking from mobile phones 24X7. Banks can use this channel to update customers about special offers in their close proximity. Mobile apps related to insurance can help the insurers keep track of their policy details and can get notification about due premium. They can even use the apps to make premium payment through mobile.
mHealth or Mobile Health is the latest trend in health care industry. The mHealth solutions effectively bring doctors and patients closer. According to Global Mobile Health Market report 2010-2015, there will be more than 500 million out of 1.4 billion users of mobile apps related to mHealth. This is because everybody is concerned for their health and they want to keep track of their medical history in a convenient manner.
The healthcare apps may be an enterprise apps related to the hospital where in a patient can have his complete medical history or a fitness app serving as calorie and diet tracker. Doctors can use e-prescribing and send the prescription to patients mobile which is faster and avoid the nuisance of reading unrecognized handwriting.
E-Commerce is no longer limited to doing shopping online through your computers. More and more people now prefer to shop through their mobile phone. Thanks to the mobile apps launched by almost all the online shops like Amazon and ebay and the development of mobile payment gateway. Shopping through mobile phones is now hassle free and can be done at your convenience while on the go.
For managed service providers the key challenge is how fast they can respond to and fix customer needs. Usage of mobile apps for managing IT infrastructure has quite a lot of benefits. The downtime in the network or issues in server can be sent to mobile phones for immediate action. The technicians can use remote login apps installed on their mobile phones to login to server and fix issues. Remote workers can use the apps to connect to their office infrastructure while they are away from office.
Because of the widespread growth of smart phone and popularity of these apps, almost all the products and services companies are gradually coming up with mobile apps for their entire service offering. There will be simultaneous existence of mobile web and mobile apps for some time, but as soon as the cross platform mobile apps development technology will improve the app market will kick off as a single app will serve all platforms.
Mobile still has a lot of potential to grow further, so businesses should prepare themselves with a better mobile strategy and take advantage of the opportunity ahead of the competitors. Whether it is a B2B or a B2C business, they cannot ignore the importance, mobiles play in the success of a business today.