Many businesses face a specific set of challenges in creating stellar apps and maintaining them over the long term. As Hubspot writer Corey Eridon wrote, “Why allocate limited resources to a mediocre idea with results you can only guess at?”
According to a report on business and productivity apps compiled last year, expected growth within the app market is estimated at 27% going into 2016, with productivity and business elements contributing around $58 billion to that total.
Developing an app isn’t cheap. Jeff Francis, co-founder and COO of Copper Mobile, reported that “sales applications typically fall into the $50,000 to $150,000 development cost range, and can far exceed those costs if the app is highly complex with more than three mobility platforms.”
Direct Marketing News identified three elements required for successful B2B apps: development, deployment, and maintenance. Devoting time and resources to each can greatly impact the long-term success of the app.
Which apps could inspire your dev team? Online meeting and screen sharing service join.me is a popular piece of software that assists users with what its website describes as “everything from online meetings, to ad hoc show-and-tell collaboration. TIME Magazine named it as one of the “50 Must-have iPad Apps” and Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX) named it Best Technology. Owned by LogMeIn, join.me offers mobile, desktop, and plug-in apps and comes with a range of handy features including unlimited audio, recording, and one-click scheduling. The app allows for greater productivity while underlining the sense of seamless integration that so many marketing leaders (SAP’s Maggie Fox among them) has named as being vital to 21st century business expansion.
Slack, which launched in 2013, has been called the fastest-growing workplace software ever. Its phenomenal growth has coincided with the growth of telecommuting, but its clean design has also had a hand in its success. As highfive.com noted, Slack’s user onboarding process is top-notch, “because it combines ease of use with personality, which also show up in other small details throughout the app.”
Notably, Slack relies on seamless integration as a core premise. Verge writer Casey Newton noted last year how “the proliferation of messaging services means that your work communications are getting fragmented across an ever-growing number of places: email, Skype, Google apps and Hangouts, iMessage, and SMS […] Slack is a bid to bring everything back together, in a single place, with powerful search..” Founder Stewart Butterfield told Newton that “Slack is great for 30 people. But we want to make it work for companies that have 50,000 people.”
Don’t forget upkeep
Maintenance considerations are hugely important to keep in mind when developing an app. According to Forrester Research, the cost of maintaining an app over two years is roughly 2.5 times higher than the initial development cost. Gavin Finn, President and CEO of Kaon Interactive, wrote in a post for Direct Marketing that “(e)stimates by MGI Research show apps will require at least four major updates stemming from operating system and device updates over an 18-to-24-month period for just one operating system platform (e.g. iOS.)”
Finn also differentiates between the terms “mobile first” and “mobile only,” noting the importance of creating both a browser app as well as standalone applications, as well as developing applications that will be able to function “offline without connectivity to the Web.”
Before embracing the world of apps, businesses must identify why they want to build one in the first place. Alex Bratton, CEO of Lextech and author of Billion Dollar Apps (Innovation Networks) wrote at Internet Retailer in February 2015 that “(m)any companies make hasty decisions to build a mobile app that ends up not solving pain points at all. That’s because they build an “obvious app” but not the right app.”
According to Bratton, there are seven strategies to help companies focus on where they should go in the app world. First, clearly identify the goals of the business, then, know the complementary workflows of those goals. After that, be aware of everyone’s roles within each action, along with an estimation of cost, time, and resources; also, analyze travel requirements, determine which workflows yield bottom-line success, and calculate workflow consistencies. These strategies are, in Bratton’s view, “the launching pad about which mobile apps can make the biggest different for your organization.”
Flickr photo via Creative Commons