The use of online applications and software has become the norm as our lives are increasingly becoming digitized and globalized. Current research shows that there are over two million different apps available for users to download, and with the number of mobile phone users growing daily, this number will only increase. Predictions are that there will be around 350 billion app downloads in 2021.
Beyond our personal lives, our professional lives are becoming dependent on the use of online software and apps. There are so many different apps out there with differing suitability levels for your business that it can become difficult to know where to look and what are the best options to help you improve your business. If you are looking for new apps to support your work, here are five things that your business apps must-have.
1. Integration and interoperability. The number one thing your business apps need to have is integration, whereby apps are able to access each other’s information to function together for a specific business process. The ideal business solution app and the data contained therein must be able to be used by your entire supply chain and should be usable on mobile, web services, and desktop platforms. Although this integration can be difficult to achieve and will take some time to find, this integration will allow the apps you buy or build to be widely used throughout your business. The current norm is to have a number of different apps that perform individual processes; these are then integrated to fully support the business cycle. Integrating the apps, you use is essential to streamline the business and allows all those who are involved in your business processes to be able to use and benefit from the various apps. For integration, you will likely need Middleware as the apps need to communicate to share the data they hold and thus work together.
When these individual apps are actually able to work together seamlessly, they achieve interoperability. The language of the apps is the same, and several apps in your business will be able to share information and use this without needing additional software. Here the various business systems you are using will communicate, share data, and use this information to make decisions and perform business functions.
The app you choose should have a minimum level of each of these, and you should do your research thoroughly, speak to your stakeholders and supply chain partners, see what apps they use for the business process that you share with them, and take it from there. Start with an integrated system, and over time you will be able to improve, amend and develop apps to make the ones you use in your business interoperable.
2. Mobility and Portability. Your app must be able to go with you and your team and have the same functionality on mobile as it does on desktop and web services. The way the app looks and feels must be the same on your smart mobile device and on your laptop or desktop. One of the main reasons consumers have adopted the use of Apps is the fact that they go where you go, and they are used most by those on the move. Your App must be designed with this in mind.
The app should also be transferable because it would be ideal if it could be used on all mobile platforms. Your consumers and others who will want to access it all use different platforms, so the app must be useable on Android and IOS, Windows, Mango, and others. These are some of the main app platforms used in business; make sure that your business apps uses one of these as it increases the chances that others will be able to use it on the go.
3. Ongoing support. There should be 24/7 support. If your business is online, it may be that it runs even when you are asleep; your apps and business software should also do the same. In that case, your support team needs to be available around the clock and have remote capabilities to deal with any glitches or problems with the system. There will be a clear system of in-app support, chatbots, and Frequently Asked Questions for most apps. However, it must be highlighted that if the app is not genuine and you cannot communicate with the developers or even sellers, then you may not be able to solve more serious issues such as integration or possible personalization for your business. When setting up an app, make sure that you have the support that you will need to run and maintain it, but you must also ensure that those who use the app, be they your business clients or customers and supply chain stakeholders, have support while using the app as well.
4. Personalization possibilities. The apps and software you use will generally be generic to particular business processes, such as apps for project management; however, you can also seek specific apps that are personalized to your specific business and related processes. Either test and find an app that is specific for your business or a process in the business such as sales and payments. There is also another option, and this is to develop an app that is specific to your business alone. This is a popular option but may limit integration and interoperability, so ensure that you check with your supply chain and stakeholders, and those external to the business who may have to use the app. Developing and designing your own app will also come with some costs as you will likely need a developer unless you have the skills in-house.
5. Affordability. If it’s out there, can you get it cheaper? With the app development sector growing year on year, there is an oversupply of certain apps, and as such many may start off free to use or be offered cost-effectively, so look around and test where you can if it doesn’t affect your ongoing business processes. The research around cost must be done as effectively as possible as there is a great risk associated with implementing a new app to run and manage business processes. Don’t rush out and implement a free version of an app only to find that it doesn’t serve the specific business purposes you required it for. Furthermore, many business apps that start off free soon cost you money as the in-app purchases are how the developers make the money to keep updating it.
It would be best to prepare well and perhaps invest some money to get an app that you will be proud of and that works well to drive your business, which keeps you in touch with your clients and customers.
As a business, you need to be savvy when it comes to the type and cost of apps you use. The app should make your business easier; as soon as it becomes too complicated, you may be using the wrong app. With the development software what it currently is and the advances in technology, there is no reason why your business doesn’t have specific apps developed for your internal and linked processes.