Since the introduction of Apple iTunes and the revolution of application technology, it's as if the whole world is available through apps! Once the development of a bespoke app would have been perceived as an extravagant marketing expenditure, but, is it now becoming a critical component of marketing collateral?
Apple lead the way
For a few short years, Apple were the sole dominant force when it came to the bespoke application market. With easy access, fast downloads and plug-and-play integration, these applications gave the end user the possibility of a bespoke technology interface that wrapped around lifestyle and business needs, making every handset and computer as individual as the user. This was soon followed by competition from Google (in the form of Android applications) and Blackberry - and there are sure to be many more on the way! There is an ambitious EU sponsored program to provide app development on an open source web browser basis, meaning they won't be reliant upon individual operating systems.
Smartphone made it happen
The development of sophisticated handheld devices has enabled the end consumer to carry powerful bespoke software anywhere. This has radically changed the way we use technology today - from getting directions, booking tickets and ordering food. All have become second nature through our handheld devices.
Technology changing consumer behaviour
The development of sophisticated apps have radically changed consumer behaviour. We are witnessing a growing demand for bespoke applications that enrich and inform the consumer choice. Business has been quick to respond with many leading retailers already providing integrated apps as part of their retail experiences.
Apps for business corporates
Although retail businesses have embraced app technology, a number of “blue chip” companies are also providing apps in order to drive efficiencies and improve internal communications. This use of app technology often fits with company phone policies that are focused on providing standardised capability (email, text, geo-location etc). The addition of a bespoke app can provide office locations, individual address books, client lists, drop box shared or collaborative working space…the list is endless! However, a word of warning: only develop app capabilities that will truly drive business performance!
As a greater number of people gain access and familiarity of app technology, the expectation of the consumer also grows. The need for business to keep pace with next generation functionality (such as updates to core records and real time integration of information) becomes essential in order to keep the app relevant.
Apps for the public sector
With huge cuts taking place within the public sector, the app technology provides a real opportunity for public sector departments to take advantage of technology to drive efficiencies. Apps for local government would provide the local community with a huge array of information, accessed in a familiar single portal, whilst providing the opportunity to deliver tangible support to local business initiatives. Over time, these could become self-funding or even become revenue generators for public sector bodies.
The process of transformation has already started within the public sector. It will be interesting to see how far the process of private/public sector partnership goes.
The development of new technology offers a real opportunity for wider access, increased efficiencies and revenue opportunity!