Technology

When is an app a good business decision?

Dennis Benjamin /

Apps are great for banking, sport, games, flights, messaging, special offers, movies, public transport, weather and other everyday informational necessities, right?

Funny isn’t it that these days you use your mobile phone more than your computer, and use mobile apps more than the internet for searches, but you still don’t get how an app can help your business. Why not?

Admittedly I’m a little biased, but I don’t get why you don’t get it…

So often I have gone to visit companies and they ask me ‘so why would our customers use an app?’ Somehow they see how they personally get engaged with apps but assume that their customers won’t.

A few years ago I called on Crown and they said that they weren’t interested in an app at that time. Now they can’t stop advertising their ‘new’ app. We moved on and we probably should have had more patience, as it was only a matter of time before they would realise that an app joins the dots, allows them to send out special offers (in the form of free alerts) and incentivise more activity, more customer engagement and more business.

We’re probably the worst salespeople in the world, as we’ll tell clients when we aren’t convinced there is a need for their app. We don’t ask them to pay us for the consultation. They don’t need to do a special mobile app course costing several thousand dollars and to live in (most often false) hope that they will make lots of money and raise millions in capital from their app.

We think getting the strategy right is fairly simple when you’ve done it for a while, it boils down to answering a wide range of questions and some considered planning about the current and future needs of the business. 

First of all let me draw a distinction between an app that is a ‘great idea’ which has its own inherent benefits, and an app that is a business tool for your business. Let me deal with each option.

For an app that is a great idea, it raises questions as to why there is a need for it, who will use it, how to reach them and how best to extract value. Good ideas may assist with productivity or enjoyment or just be just very helpful.

We did an app for a large enterprise that wanted its staff to be able to quickly monitor and report on activity that the company is involved in all over Australia. If there was a problem with their offering, staff could take a picture and with GPS it could be quickly addressed. How simple and time-saving and effective. How great is the payback!

We’re seeing apps in the health industry that make booking appointments so much easier. It also allows for practitioners to promote available times for increased bookings (and revenue).

For businesses, the questions are related but different. The focus is on getting value and ensuring ongoing value for customers: essential in justifying having your app on their phone’s prime real estate – the home screen.

Having a database of customers is a good start. Offering the customers a special only available in the app can be a great incentive to get them started. Ensuring you have controls so as to allow your customers to be contacted only in relation to certain activities is important. In addition, allowing your customers to be your ambassadors and forward details of specials to their friends has obvious benefits. This freedom of customer promotion also is necessary for vouchers.

Being an entrepreneur, I’m driven by value. I assume our customers are also focused on getting great value. The case for apps providing value to business is only getting stronger. In many cases, it’s really just a matter of thinking about how prevalent apps are now on your smartphone and the value you get from them. Then think about providing that same value proposition to your customers. If you don’t provide it, your competitors probably will, if they don’t already.

So might an app be a good business decision for your business?

Dennis Benjamin is the founder and chief executive of mobile apps specialists AppsWiz and the Informatel Group. He is an expert in the areas of mobile trends, mobile apps, apps for businesses, entrepreneurship, and startups.

 

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Dennis Benjamin

Dennis Benjamin is the founder and chief executive of mobile apps specialists AppsWiz and the Informatel Group. He is an expert in the areas of mobile trends, mobile apps, apps for businesses, entrepreneurship, and startups.

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