14/07/2014

By Mark Mason, CEO and founder of Mubaloo, the UK’s leading enterprise app consultancy and developer.

We all know that mobile phones have been a force for both good and bad. We have all experienced that moment when someone is so engrossed in their phone that they walk into us; unaware of the world happening around them. Mobiles have been responsible for causing the decline of companies like Kodak and HMV by changing the way people consume, create and share.

This isn’t to criticise the mobile though. It’s a systematic cause and effect of new technology. If the person using the technology realises that they can make their lives easier with new technology, they will move to it. It’s for this exact reason that we don’t, on the whole, live in forests to hunt our own food.

Even the mobile phone has replaced the mobile phone. Remember Nokia and Motorola? Those companies helped to create the mobile industry. Now they’ve been chopped up and sold after they didn’t initially keep up with the changes taking place. Smartphones, and specifically apps, have been a leading cause of change in the way people now live and work.

The computer in the pocket is a powerful thing. It may not have the power of a desktop, but it does let you do more when you are out and about. Apps are everywhere. In Europe alone during 2014, the app economy generated £14.6 billion. This is only set to grow to £18.4 billion by 2018.

For companies wanting to get the most out of mobile, it often won’t be in creating apps for consumers or users where they can get the benefit though. That market is saturated and requires not only having the idea in a million, but also investing a million in marketing the app to users (and not always getting a return on the investment). Where the opportunity is, is creating apps designed around employee job roles; especially if they are based outside of the office.

Having a business that is more efficient, where employees are able to spend less time on admin leads to many benefits beyond long-term financial reward. Customers (whether they are B2B or B2C) will get a better experience. Suppliers will be more connected. Management will be more informed. The business will be more intelligent and able to grow with the times.

We’ve got some top tips for finding the right opportunity and setting the right strategies in place, see below to find out more:

1. Start by identifying core business objectives and the company’s mobile vision. User needs will need to be explored by looking at internal & external processes, services & communications.

2. Define the KPIs to measure & report on to determine how success and return on mobility will be qualified. For this, a business case will be required to demonstrate the value of mobile initiatives, as well securing a marketing budget for the app. Don’t forget to first measure what is happening pre-mobile today in order to demonstrate how behaviours change as a result of mobile deployments.

3. Map out opportunities for mobile solutions that are aligned across the strategic objectives of the business. Opportunities may then be phased and a roadmap created.

4. Identify any business obstacles that lie in the way. Herd resources towards a joined-up mobile vision using a clear implementation plan. Explore small technical advances; it’s easier to justify larger scale transformation once an initial test is proven.

5. Determine whether resources and skills exist internally. Many people working in IT may have the skills but do they have the time to build apps and the infrastructure to support it? What would be the cost of hiring IT freelancers, designers and others required to build the tools needed? Often, it can be cheaper to work with a partner that has experience in building apps for large companies; able to deliver tangible value through expertise and knowledge. The snazzy front-end design needs experience to make it easy for users to pick up, development needs to be coded and tested and back-end integration requires knowledge of systems.