To App or Not to App?

Businesses are operating in a time of incredibly rapid change and innovation, where disruptive technology is being harnessed to turn traditional business models on their heads and bring ideas to market almost instantaneously.

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Below Richard Pilton, Managing Director of Kayo Digital, delves into the complexities of app building and tech platforms for businesses.

The sheer pace at which things are moving, not just in terms of customer demands and technological advancements, but the speed at which businesses are expected to react to, adopt and embrace these changes means many have been left with heads’ reeling as they struggle to keep up.

Those ambitious businesses that can effectively harness the right technology will be the ones to gain competitive advantage and grow. However, to be able to capitalise on disruptive technology, businesses need to be able to identify and harness the right technology for their unique needs. Having a solid understanding of existing and emerging technology as well as how it is influencing customer behaviour is absolutely key here.

Don’t run before you can walk

While there is a lot of exciting technology becoming mainstream, it is important for businesses to not try and run before they can walk. When implemented and integrated correctly, digital technologies have the potential to really drive business growth, but businesses need to ensure they have the basic building blocks in place in order to get real benefit from any technology.

A massively important part of setting a business up to harness digital technology for growth is recognising what you really need. Many businesses mistakenly think they just need an app, when actually what they really require is a quite advanced technology platform. This is a relatively easy error to make – after all, Uber looks like just an app but in reality it is a very complex booking system.

Uber looks like just an app but in reality it is a very complex booking system.

Before embarking on any digital technology project, it is important to identify if you are ready and understand what you are trying to achieve. Do you understand your own business – the processes, operating procedures and skills sets? Do you have a clear vision of how any new digital technology will impact all these areas?

Do you understand your customers? Who are they and how do they interact with you? How often? What would encourage them to purchase more from you? What is the user journey like and how could it be improved?

What are you trying to achieve? Do you know what success looks like and how will, for example, an app help you to achieve this? Do you have objectives mapped out? How will you measure the success of any technology you implement?

The value of apps

Apps continue to grow in popularity. In a world where convenience is king they are a great way for consumers to easily access services they use regularly. However, just because they are popular, doesn’t mean they are right for every business.

They are a really useful tool for repeat customers as they can massively improve the customer journey and experience. They’re also a great marketing channel, as can be used to push out information to users, something which is incredibly important in a post GDPR landscape.

However, an app will not attract people to your business. It can’t and should not replace an eCommerce site, although it can compliment one.

Any app developed should sit as part of an overarching business strategy. This should start with the customer and your business goals, not with technology. Don’t rush in and throw some technology at a perceived problem in the hope of solving it. Instead, look at how your customers are interacting with your business and how they are likely to in the future.

Create a roadmap of what the current customer experience looks like and how you want it to look and combine this with your own business growth objectives. Use these to create a strategy, which can then inform the specific role you need an app to play.

You may be an expert in your business area, but the world of digital technology is fast moving and rapidly evolving. Niche expertise and experience is needed to navigate through all the available technology options. As such, seeking independent, expert advice can save considerable time and money. What is vital here, is to choose a partner who is technology agnostic. You need to know that whatever technology they recommend is truly the best fit for you. Better still, find a partner who can build a bespoke solution just for you.

Once you have developed an app that is working well, don’t sit back and think that that box is ticked! Digital technology, by its very nature, doesn’t stand still. Neither do your customers. They are constantly adopting new ways of purchasing or accessing services and you need to ensure you can meet their ever-evolving demands.

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