From typewriters and fax machines to websites and now, the app. Throughout history, companies that fail to keep up with technological trends are often left behind. Apps have become integral to everyday life, whether that’s ordering food, transport or tracking online purchases, it‘s now becoming clear that organizations without smart, well-functioning apps, are at risk of being pushed out of the competition by other businesses with efficient cross-platform applications.
A company’s app is fast becoming the flagship touchpoint for all aspects of a business, both internally and externally, heavily influencing the perception and relationship a company has with both its employees and customers. An app is no longer just a tool, it’s an essential element that directly contributes to the success of a company. But developing a custom application via traditional methods can potentially take months and cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, hindering business productivity and holding companies back.
The app generation
The use of apps has grown exponentially over the past decade. When the iOS store was launched in 2008 it had just over 500 apps. Today, 2.2 million different apps are available. And this rapid growth is also similar for Android users who have 3.5 million apps to choose from. New apps are being created and downloaded every day and during the past 18 months, the pandemic has had an astonishing effect on app usage and downloads.
As everyone turned to online technology, it is unsurprising that app installations increased 17.3 percent year-on-year in 2020. Downloads of business apps, such as Teams, Zoom and Google Meet rose by 132 percent, as B2B companies and many others began to rely on them to conduct business meetings and ensure the continued running of their operations through a time of great uncertainty. Business enterprise apps were the most downloaded during 2019 to 2020, but the download of food and drink applications also increased by 34 percent for companies such as Uber, Deliveroo, Just Eat and Delivery Hero. The increased reliance on and demand for apps during the pandemic signaled a greater need to ensure businesses' apps worked correctly and efficiently, with the cost of getting it wrong potentially detrimental.
Aside from businesses, medical apps also saw increased downloads by 85 percent, making this the second most downloaded app category in 2019 to 2020. With the need to monitor and manage Covid infections, the UK government quickly created the NHS Covid app to respond to the humanitarian and economic crisis facing the country and the rest of the world. The app has been used to keep the economy moving and has helped protect millions of people from the various Covid infection strains.
The NHS Covid app has undergone many changes to follow the new isolation rules and guidance. In the summer, it was updated to ‘ping’ fewer people, since the heightened sensitivity of the app’s tracking was resulting in millions of people having to self-isolate. This had a damaging effect on the UK’s workforce, particularly those in the health and social care sectors. The issues presented by the NHS app highlighted the serious impact app rollouts can cause if not created and tested correctly.
The risks of getting it wrong
Developing apps quickly has never been more imperative, and this demand and necessity has created the perfect storm, with the stakes for getting it right incredibly high. Mobile apps have played an integral role within business mobility, and operations are now increasingly relying on mobile technology to bolster productivity and efficiency.
Companies designing their own apps has become commonplace, giving them the ability to customize their workflows and respond to individual demands. However, companies are getting bogged down with the scope of work and costs involved in creating an app.
Custom application development can take businesses weeks, sometimes months, to complete and is incredibly costly. And, ultimately, companies can end up stuck with apps that are clunky, slow and eventually cause workforce inefficiencies across the organization. Getting it wrong can significantly hinder a business’s productivity, whilst also costing valuable time and money which would be better spent elsewhere. Companies, therefore, risk a frustrated workforce and customers, in addition to being outmaneuvered by their competitors and falling behind.
Today’s businesses only have a few apps and are starved for custom line of business (LOB) applications to streamline their important workflows. This discrepancy, the difference between how many apps a business wants and what they can deliver, is often referred to as the “App Gap.”
To avoid devastating scenarios and loss of productivity, businesses must place more attention on finding a way to develop applications quickly whilst ensuring high levels of competency, including their individual needs for a user-friendly design, data security and future updates. IT departments can often feel immense pressure to deliver complex apps which meet these criteria. While external app developers may be a solution, they often do not have the necessary understanding of the business requirements and can produce unsatisfactory results.
A quick and simple solution
The solution is for businesses to focus on their core competencies and support their IT departments to build apps by using simple and effective rapid app development software. This allows companies to create custom apps by using reliable cross-platform software. It eliminates the need for complex coding and provides a quick, simple and affordable way to create unique LOB apps. The app creators can simply drag and drop key app components onto a blank canvas. This takes the stress off a company’s IT department since virtually any employee can become an app designer by using this type of software.
By using rapid app development software businesses can prototype, iterate and deploy apps in a matter of hours, compared to the weeks and months previously spent custom designing apps. App makers help to simplify operations by allowing for easy downloads across both iOS and Android platforms.
Businesses that successfully integrate their mobile operations with existing IoT infrastructure will unsurprisingly overtake their competitors who use slow and costly methods to create custom apps that are not fully integrated into their IoT architecture. Ultimately, for companies to stay up-to-date with mobile tech demands, adaptability, flexibility and speed are crucial. And for companies who have not yet included the use of apps within their business plans, now is the time to act before they get left behind. The fight back against slow and costly app development begins now.
- Here’s our list of the best website builders for small businesses right now
Sarah Edge, Director of Sales, UK and Ireland, SOTI