It’s hard to imagine life without mobile smart devices. A relatively new technology, the mobile revolution began less than a decade ago with the advent of the first HTML-browsing capable mobile device. With it, users around the world began to discover the myriad possibilities available in a connected world. With it, the nearly limitless digital resource of the internet could be accessed any time and from almost any location. And thanks to that new-found freedom, the demand for smart devices exploded.

By the end of 2017, smartphones will have reached a global penetration rate of 44%, and it is anticipated that by 2020, there will be approximately 6 billion smart devices in the world. However, the devices are only part of the story. The smartphones and tablets of the world are just hardware — machines capable of performing only the most basic functions. By themselves, even the ‘smartest’ device is little more than an expensive collection of on/off switches. It’s the software programs that give these devices the instructions they need to perform complex tasks, and for that, you need apps.

 

From managing schedules, to providing entertainment, to offering educational resources, and beyond, integrated mobile apps have become an essential part of every aspect of our lives.

And business is no exception.

Apps Streamline Business Processes.

As mobile smart devices continue to proliferate, mobile apps are seeing wider and wider adoption across every industry. Apps can be used to facilitate better customer service and support, providing an easy channel for clients reach out to the businesses they frequent, while also offering advanced customer-facing tools. Likewise, apps for in-store associates allow access to inventories, reviews, detailed customer information, and omnichannel selling options, for a better, more customized buyer experience, in store and and out.

More than that, applications can be put to work improving essentially any business process. Store and share files across mobile devices, socially communicate across teams and departments, build and deploy cost-effective marketing initiatives that reach customers as individuals, automate repetitive-yet-important processes, and reduce turnaround associated with shipping, payment, and other time-consuming tasks. Business apps are capable of streamlining the mechanisms that move your business forward.

Of course, in order to be as effective as possible, these apps need to be designed specifically with the needs of your organization in mind. And while ready-made, out-of-the box solutions may provide value, the right custom apps will be better suited to solving the problems faced by your business, and helping you connect with the your customers on a one-on-one basis. In order to enjoy the benefits of made-to-order business applications, many organizations prefer to bring app development in house, and that means developing a reliable app strategy.

Understand the App Strategy Basics.

An effective app strategy is one that is not only capable of meeting user requirements and expectations, but also provides a framework in which an organization may conceptualize, develop, and deploy reliable applications quickly and cost effectively. As such, your business’s app strategy should consist of several factors. The following steps will help you create an app strategy to meet the needs of your business and your clients:

  1. Understand your audience
    Before you can build custom apps capable of streamlining your business, you need to be able to identify first who your audience is. Will you apps be designed for your clients, your employees, or both? What are their needs? What pain points do they encounter?

    Begin by creating a persona for your typical user. This can be based on general knowledge of your product — certain demographics may be more interested in what you have to offer than others. Next, integrate CRM data, along with information related to your industry and your competitors, to further flesh out your intended user. The right analytics tools can play an essential role in this first step in creating an effective app strategy.

  2. Define your goals
    Once you understand who your audience is and what they need, your next step should be to determine what you want your app to be able to do. Identify your goals for each application, and determine how best those goals can be met. Essentially, this step asks ‘how,’ where step number-one focused on ‘who.’

    Will your app be primarily focused on facilitating better client communication? Will it be an informational resource? Will it offer special discounts or function as a loyalty-program application? There are any number of possible directions your app could go, so decide early on in the development phase what your audience will need it to do.

  3. Prioritize your needs
    After identifying and recording the goals you have in mind for your app, take a step back and get a big picture view of what you’re trying to accomplish. What is your top priority? Which functions are essential, and which are secondary? If you’re conceptualizing multiple apps at once, objectively determine which ones are likely to bring your organization the highest value. This will help you allocate your resources where they will be most beneficial.

    By documenting and creating a hierarchy of user and business needs, you’ll be giving your developers a more-clear view of objectives before they start, and should they be forced to choose between different options, they’ll have a clear idea of what their priorities should be.

  4. Select the right tools
    Depending upon the resources and skill levels available to your IT department, you may or may not choose to build your apps from scratch. That said, even if you’re using in-house experts, you’ll need to rely on development tools at least to some degree.

    Cloud-based app-development tools, such as those available through the Salesforce Platform, can help organizations develop powerful business applications at a fraction of the development cost. Built-in templates, drag-and-drop tools, and low- and no-code options mean that non-IT experts can design apps quickly and easily. In fact, the Salesforce Platform allows for 50% faster app development cycles resulting in 44% more new applications delivered. The Salesforce Platform users also enjoy an average ROI of 478%. With the right tools, you’ll be better positioned to develop and deploy the right apps, for the right users, while still keeping costs manageable.

5. Establish standards
Whatever app-development tools you use, it is vitally important that you standardize those tools across your organization. This will allow your teams to better coordinate their app-development efforts, as well as making training, support, and maintenance much more simple across your entire company. Deciding on a standard set of tools now will help ensure fewer problems in the future.

Standardizing your app-development tools goes hand-in-hand with establishing larger governance standards, so that when your organization decides to release a mobile application, it can do so within a consistent app strategy that is understood, secure, and easily quantifiable.

Empower Your business.

Mobile smart devices are an integral part of our world, and when it comes to business, they’re becoming more integrated with every passing year. Custom applications give businesses the power to leverage mobile computing, connecting with clients, optimizing employee productivity and effectiveness, and offering advanced solutions wherever users may be. The right applications can bring unparalleled value to your organization, but only when you have the right development strategy to back them up.

Identify your audience, set your goals, prioritize your needs, invest in the right tools, and establish your standards. By following these app-development steps, you’ll be well on your way to building the apps that will define your future. With the right app strategy, your business can build reliable solutions that are as effective as they are cost-effective. After all, apps power the devices that power the world. Sign up today for the Salesforce Platform free 30-day trial, and put that power to work for your clients.

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