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Mobile Apps for Business: Beyond the AppStore

01 Sep 2015

One of the most common Google search terms around business mobile applications that we’ve identified here at Microsec is “best business apps”.  There are certainly lots to choose from, and each self-contained app does a very specific task: mileage calculator, receipt tracker, business card scanner, credit checker, etc..

These types of apps have a big part to play in removing admin overhead and nuisance value from the everyday life of the SME, but they aren’t aimed at changing the way businesses work.  That’s what the rest of this article is about – going beyond the pre-built, AppStore applications to re-think how you work with your customers and prospects. 

Identify your own apps – Free of Charge

If, like most companies, you have a desktop software package that underpins your key business activities - likely built out from a central accounting module – it can be difficult to see the benefit of developing your own unique business mobile apps, and how and where they would “fit” alongside established systems

The key is to find out where and how mobile working could make a difference.

This is especially important as building apps unique to your business isn’t cheap, so you have to be sure that there’s a real Return on Investment. Microsec runs an initial no-obligation Mobile Opportunity Workshop for businesses in which we look first for the potential business improvement that will follow from the technology. Since we also build entire custom software systems from end-to-end, it’s always been our approach that any proposed mobile element is treated as a potential core business process, and if we can’t find the ROI in the development, we’re the first to say.

What do unique apps cost? 

This is perhaps the wrong question – rather we should ask “Where is their value?”

The value for Microsec client ArbPro , offering a management system for tree contractors, emerged when a critical driver of business, i.e., face-to-face customer contact, was transformed by a unique mobile app. Surveyors can now spend all day in the field, visualising and estimating new work, and crucially, closing more business and immediately scheduling teams, all without having to come into the office any more.

A similar order of return was enabled at Autoforms , a business services company, when we built a Cloud-based tablet application that dramatically improved efficiencies and throughput in commercial property inspection.      

The Best App might not be on Your Own Device

From a slightly counter-intuitive viewpoint, it’s possible that the app that makes a difference might not actually be for you, but for your customer. This alternative thinking, pioneered by pharmaceuticals companies, can now be found at local level where, e.g., accountants could distribute an app to their clients to allow them to submit their book-keeping, and so transform annual accounting procedures.  These customer-oriented apps can do wonders for relationships, but come with a caution on compatibility with customers’ different mobile platforms.

Finally, it is worth reminding ourselves that smart devices - smartly used – really are a “game-changer”, and a shrewdly-assembled portfolio of mobile apps should be among the strategic priorities of businesses.  

To discuss the no-obligation Mobile Opportunity Workshop for Southern Entrepreneurs, or bespoke software development, get in touch via www.microsec.co.uk or call 023 9251 8250 and ask for Ed May or James Lavery quoting “Southern Entrepreneurs”.