Is there an App for that?

mobile-applications.pngWho would have thought that 10 years ago, the mobile phone would not only be used for making and receiving calls, sending text messages and connecting to the internet, but they are also being used to access mobile money services and much more.

With the app development economy thriving globally, Indran Naick, master inventor at IBM SA says that South African businesses are lagging behind. Although most South African companies understand the opportunities the digital environment offers them, few have really invested in the developing of apps relevant to their business.

The sole purpose for any company to want to develop an app is that it could be used as a PR tool, in terms of marketing, advertising and improving branding. It can also be used to get more customers and clients and another form of contact to your market.

As for South African businesses, they are starting to realize that the application economy will bring dramatic changes in the way they run their businesses and engage with partners and customers. However, they are not always clear on the necessary roadmaps, strategies and technologies to help them adapt to business in this new era.

But does your business really have a reason to develop an app in the first place? Before you develop, consider what you're trying to accomplish, and develop the right tool for the job.

1. Is It Necessary For Your Business To Have An App?
Not every company (or industry) should develop an app. If you already have a user friendly website that it is fully mobile responsive, than there's no need to get an app. The main reason businesses think they should develop an app is to stay up-to -date with their competition, which is one of the reasons to get one.

The most important consideration for developing an app is that it needs to be functional and there needs to be a clear objective. If people can only get information like your contact details, pictures, blogs and events about the company, then the app is not useful at all.

2. What Does It Cost to Develop an App?
The cost of your potential app will depend on a couple of things. To name a few:

  • You would look at the functionality, will it be a basic app or have layers
  • Who will you get to develop the app?
  • Which platform will you want to host it on, Web, Native or Hybrid?

This is the "mobile version" of a site that runs in a web browser. Web apps use JavaScript, CSS, HTML5 or other languages. They are sometimes designed to look and work like apps and are generally ideal when you want to make your content or functionality available on mobile. They are not expensive.

A native mobile app is a smartphone application that is coded in a specific programming language, such as Objective C for iOS and Java for Android operating systems. Native apps provide the best usability, the best features, and the best overall mobile experience. However, this type of app is expensive to develop because it is tied to one type of operating system, forcing the company that creates the app to make duplicate versions that work on other platforms.

Hybrid apps are defined as a web app, primarily built using HTML5 and JavaScript. It is usually quicker to develop and will cost you less, compared to native apps. Apart from it being cheaper, another advantage that hybrid apps have over native is that it's faster and easier to develop. It's also easier to maintain and you can change platforms. The app itself will not be as fast as a native app as it still depends on the browser speed.

3. Your App Checklist…
No one said developing an app would be easy so before switching the green light on towards your mobile app development, make sure you understand the process.
Even though your mobile app idea might have occurred in a matter of minutes, your application won't be developed overnight. Discuss the project scope with your developer (s) and make sure that you understand the process. Below are the areas you should consider:

  • Planning
  • Design (Wire framing & Visual design)
  • Programming
  • Functional Specification
  • Testing

There is no one-size-fits-all, finding the right app for your business may be challenging. Consider what your main goals are and what your audience needs. Research your options and get a great developer. Ask for recommendations.

With technology evolving at such a high speed, enterprises of all sizes, in all markets, have to embrace the application economy and place software development at the centre of their business strategy.

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