Until recently the mobile app has been seen as an expensive, time consuming and challenging solution to develop, something that only the large enterprise can afford or implement. This has now changed. Apps are easy to build and they allow for the small business to develop a solution that is customisable and completely structured around the business and the brand. Through an app, the small enterprise (SME) can create a native environment that captures client loyalty and keeps them engaged.
A recent study undertaken by the mobile analytics firm Mobidia [https://www.internetretailer.com/2014/01/09/exclusive-how-consumers-interact-20-top-shopping-apps] focused on the use of customised apps in the consumer space and found that an average 48% of Android users shopped online through mobile commerce apps. The same principles can be applied in the B2B space – create apps that make accessing content, capabilities and features a simple endeavour and you have a solution that keeps your customers coming back for more. It is no longer a question of whether to build an app for the business or the products it sells, but rather what needs to be done to ensure that it is done well.
It is essential that a business app be easy to use. Complex user interfaces with steep learning curves will alienate the client and are unlikely to keep them engaged. It is also vital that an app be focused on delivering one very specific solution – it’s easy to try and cram a diverse range of capabilities into one app, but this potentially can result in a confused mess that makes little sense to anyone. Keystone Electronics recently designed an app called BlueGoo that allows for the supervision of all IP-enabled equipment on a site over LAN with SNMP. It is a targeted solution that addresses a certain need. It isn’t diluted by other products or solutions and provides clients with a reliable and easy method for configuring the Keystone RSM Blue system. The app took away the need for the client to use a laptop and working network in order to do their work, and replaced it with any Android device from anywhere.
Keystone has created other apps to work in conjunction with other products such as GLAM Bluetooth and ATC Interlock and Job Card Tracker. Each one is focused on resolving a particular problem or addressing a certain client requirement. This then leads to the next point – personalisation.
When creating an app, especially if it is being developed as part of an overall solution or implementation, adding in layers of personalised content can make all the difference. By adding in layers that are client or solution specific, the experience becomes a far more compelling one. The process also does not demand that suddenly the SME hire developers or spend terrifying quantities of cash on getting apps developed. Costs have come down and many organisations offer this service at a price point that doesn’t massively impact the bottom line over the long term, especially if an app can be used across multiple clients and installations. Ultimately, however, the real value lies in keeping clients loyal and engaged and coming back for more and it is in this arena that the app truly shines. It is a tool that can now be used by businesses of any size to boost business capabilities and enhance products and solutions.
* John Eigelaar, co-founder and director of Keystone Electronics.