We’re all going mobile. Overall usage of mobile apps has ballooned in the past year. But is B2B catching up?
According to a year-end report from mobile analytics firm Flurry, app utilization in the U.S. soared 76 percent in 2014, which was led by shopping, productivity and utilities and messaging. With most consumers owning a smartphone and mobile traffic outpacing the desktop, marketers are embracing the world of mobile.
The key concern, though, is why the B2B industry is lagging behind B2C.
From mobile ascension to downward spiral
The stats are sobering: In 2015, B2B companies have only experienced a minuscule 1.5 percent rise in mobile traffic over the past 18 months. This is considerably low when compared to B2C websites that have reported an eight percent uptick in the same timeframe.
In other words, B2B firms aren’t taking advantage of the mobile market, and such a lag could cause significant harm to the industry in the medium- to long-term. Remember, mobile Internet traffic is only surging and is not showing any signs of slowing down whatsoever.
A substantial amount of time spent on mobile Internet is actually inside an application. Analysts and observers purport that this where B2B companies tend to fail because their developers and designers aren’t releasing apps that are easy to find, simple to gain access to and rudimentary to use.
In fact, it is reported that B2B mobile websites garner more traffic by simply producing content and sharing it online through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This kind of news isn’t exactly a badge of honor for mobile app developers – another survey found that a majority of smartphone owners have come across at least one website that wasn’t mobile friendly.
Most experts would concur: it’s time for the B2B industry to start welcoming mobile with open arms.
The UI Gap
Dave Shirk, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Kony, Inc., says that part of the reason for this inadequacy is the constant bickering and disagreement between designers and developers, which then results in either app project delays or failures. As the communication between both parties falters then it produces a User Interface (UI) mediocre at best.
For instance, according to Shirk, a top-of-the-line conceptual design may have developmental issues. On the other hand, a developmental matter may actually be a hindrance to the proposed design concepts. This is what Shirk refers to as “The UI Gap.”
A survey conducted by Kony entitled “Bridging the Gap: Mobile App Design & Development 2014” discovered that there are three major aspects that hurt mobile app developments:
- UI generates the highest amount of frustration between designers and developers.
- Requests for changes slow down the entire app creation process.
- Designers say communication is a challenging element during this partnership.
“To ensure mobile app success, businesses should take a holistic approach to mobile app development,” Shirk said in a press release statement. “In the world of mobile, the software development lifecycle needs to begin with design. Mobile app design is often overlooked in the development process, but companies are finding that most mobile apps fail because of lack of user adoption caused by poor design and experience. Enterprises should design their app with a mobile perspective when it comes to look and feel of the app. Doing this in a collaborative way and leveraging cloud technology is far better than the classic design tools, which have zero functionality or relevance to support the rich and varied user experience requirements of mobile technology.”
Bernat Guitart, CEO of AppFutura, a community of mobile app designers and developers, told B2BNN that the best way to ensure collaboration between both parties is met is to ensure there’s a certain level of understanding when it comes to technical language.
“There are a couple of thing to consider: it is usually interesting that designers have some level of technical language and knowledge. That helps creating interfaces that are still beautiful and feasibly implementable, which not always happens,” explained Guitart.
“Moreover, specially in projects that need future updates, it is interesting to maintain the same teams. There’s a certain level of trust that is created between designers and developers that makes work a lot easier. It is actually more common every day that development companies include outstanding designing services in order to accomplish that.”
B2B must evolve with the mobile patterns
Apple and Samsung have immensely helped improve our mobile experience.
With greater smartphone displays, increased usage of our mobile devices, heightened data plans and an enhanced reliance on our smartphones, the B2B buyer expects their mobile visit on a B2B website and app to be valuable, helpful, insightful and pertinent for both the firm and their needs. If the B2B company doesn’t measure up to the customers’ needs then they may soon fall behind.
Guitart believes an online community such as AppFutura is a remedy to the B2B industry’s lack of mobile app integration and constant difficulty in establishing apps.
“We always try to give the best answer to any possible development problem that may arise. If someone comes with a half-baked idea or is not sure how a certain aspect of an app should be, we help them figure out their needs and even set up a development plan if necessary. Other users have a very clear idea of what they need, which obviously accelerates the process,” said Guitart.
“When the idea is clear, we contact the candidates. We like getting to know the companies we work with and make sure they can deliver before recommending them. Our technical background helps us with that. Therefore, we know good candidates for every possible type of project you can think of, which saves time and money to people looking for these professionals.”
With more than 13,000 professionals involved in AppFutura, the company has gotten to know these experts very well, which is an added bonus for B2B firms. “You could say we classify companies (and freelancers) in terms of the budgets they usually work for, their expertise, projects they have developed in the past, their design skills and so on.”
A B2B company’s mobile presence – or any other business for that matter – must move forward with the mobile trends that are prevalent in today’s economy.