The last couple years have seen a dramatic shift in internet browsing habits that has completely changed the way online applications are made. That shift is all about mobility. Today’s digital media users spend 51% of their time on a mobile device, but only spend 42% of their time on a desktop device. In addition, more than 80% of internet users own a smartphone.

Businesses are rapidly changing their IT strategies to compensate for this change. In fact, CIOs listed mobile strategy as one of their top priorities for 2016 in a Gartner survey of 3,000 CIOs. We’ve gathered a few of the common app uses, along with some key points that any CIO should keep in mind when building a mobile strategy.

Apps for Customers & Clients

Mobile apps allow businesses to have unprecedented access to their customers and clients. That access is a double-edged sword. A high-quality app can be an incredibly effective tool, while a low-quality app can lose you customers or clients. No matter how you choose to use mobile apps, the absolute best thing you can do is ensure that the apps are as high quality as possible.

Using Apps for Marketing

With the right strategy, a mobile app can do a great deal of your marketing for you. Once a customer has downloaded the app on their phone, they’ve given you a direct conduit to them. The key strategic point for an app is to make sure that it’s worth your customers’ time. 90% of people who download an app delete it within 6 months. We’ll admit that the number sounds scary, but don’t let that stop you. The way to get into the 10% of apps that stick around is to have regularly updated content that makes your app worthwhile.

So in addition to having a strategy for the app’s interface, you need to have a strategy in place for the app’s content. For example, retail businesses will often build loyalty programs into their shopping apps, as well as a delivery method for specials or methods of payment.

Features like these keep the app useful, which keeps it available as a conduit for marketing. And all of these features need to be planned into the app from the very beginning.

Connecting Directly to Customers & Clients

That connection can also make it easier for your customers/clients to take advantage of your services, and for you to provide better service to them. Mobile apps allow unparalleled customer service access. Functionality can include everything from submitting a form to an in-app chat interface, to having a button that places a call on the smartphone. If your business includes ongoing accounts, then an app where they can check their account is a great differentiator for your customers and clients.

The key in building these customer connection apps is to ensure that they’re kept as simple as possible. Part of your initial mobile strategy should include a complete map of every customer service function, then an evaluation of how it could be included in a mobile app. If a function appears too complicated or is uncommon, then it’s probably best left off the app.

Apps for Your Workforce

That same high level of connection can also be a major boon for your internal processes. Mobile apps expand the capabilities of your employees’ smartphones and tablets, turning them into mobile workstations. It can be as simple as a way to have discussions and work on the same documents, or a way to accomplish complicated interfacing on multi-step processes.

Successful enterprise apps always share these key traits:

1)   They’re planned and developed correctly to improve the efficiency of your workforce.

2)   They’re built to work on the three primary devices types—iOS, Android, and Windows.

3)   They have a well-planned UX/UI that makes them easy to use.

Everything Your Sales and Marketing Staff Needs at Their Fingertips

A well-planned app can give your sales staff the resources they need to be more productive than ever. Apps made especially for your sales staff can include features like presentations, CRM integration, supporting data, schedule capabilities, or digital contract signing. Marketing apps can give your marketing team access to the analytics they need to manage ongoing campaigns. You can even link the apps to give sales teams the marketing data they need.

Like other apps, marketing and sales apps have to be streamlined to be easy to use. Remember that they also have to keep all of that data secure. Keeping the app to only the necessary functions and information will help the app be more useful, function better, and be more secure.

Improving Operational Efficiency Across the Board

Mobile apps can give your workforce an incredible amount of mobility and flexibility. Decisions can be made faster and common processes can be completed on the go. For example, an HR app could let an employee contact HR, access key benefit information, or file their time sheets. If your business includes mobile workers covering a broad area, an app could keep them in touch, allow them to document their work using the phone’s camera, and share locations using GPS.

When building these apps, focus your entire planning and strategy phase on improving efficiency. Smaller businesses may not need an HR app like above, while adding too much functionality or reporting capability might slow down the process. A sound strategy and careful analysis are crucial.

Apps Without Limits

You might be surprised by how many opportunities you have to use mobile apps in your business. No matter how you implement them into your strategy, make sure that they conform with these best practices.

Whether their internal or external, your mobile apps should:

  •  Be optimized for all platforms – Don’t limit your usability by only having the app available on one mobile OS.
  •  Have strong coding under a high-quality UX/UI – Make sure your users can count on your apps, and that they can use them easily.
  •  Be thoroughly planned and mapped – Every choice in building the app needs to be deliberate, and you need to know exactly how every bit of data is being handled.
  • Be sustainable – The right partner can implement a sustainable mobile strategy that includes continued maintenance
  •  Be built with a specific purpose – All apps should have a concrete purpose behind them, such as provide better customer service, build brand loyalty, or connect employees to HR.

Not sure what the best way to implement these best practices? Contact a seasoned mobile app expert like AAJ Technologies. The experience these specialists have gained from building countless mobile apps allows them to create a dependable app development process that will give you complete confidence in your apps.

Find out how mobile apps can work in your 2016 IT strategy. Schedule a free 2016 Strategy Session.