With industry panels claiming that unless companies have an iPhone app they "don’t exist" it’s hardly surprising that senior managers are asking the question, "Does my organization need an iPhone app?"
Information is increasingly accessed via smartphones. That’s in no doubt. But does this mean that you need to rush out and build a smartphone version of your corporate accounting system?
There are clearly some situtations where the arguments for developing a smartphone app are compelling.
- If your customers are consuming your content in their leisure time, then it probably makes sense for you to provide them with a smartphone application. Sports scores, articles, event listings, products reviews, etc. are all likely to be increasingly accessed via mobile devices.
- If you’re selling lower priced, “impulse-purchase” items then you may benefit from developing a smartphone app. It’s unlikely that you’d need to allow customers to purchase a car or house over a smartphone (although you’d probably want to let them research such purchases via this medium – e.g. list cars on the lot and book a test-drive).
- If you are providing real-time services to customers who aren’t desk-bound, then it’s worth considering the development of a smartphone app. Providing medical professionals with access to patient data may fall under this category.
There’s no doubt that a wide range of organizations could (and will) benefit from the introduction of a smartphone app. However, this doesn’t mean that every application fits this mold.
Some tasks—like writing a lengthy report, buying a car, doing your company accounts, etc.—would seem unlikely to be well-supported via a “mobile experience”. These are better undertaken using a “traditional” desktop or web-based application.
In fact, the value of developing a smartphone app for a task may be inversely proportional to the importance, value or complexity of that task.
If your customers are likely to set blocks of time aside specifically to perform the tasks that require your products, then the chances are they will be able to arrange access to a more traditional computer (e.g. netbook, desktop) when performing those tasks. And, there’s no doubt that, with current technology, the smartphone experience still lags the traditional computer experience for most tasks.
The smartphone revolution is upon us. And, for many organizations, not having a smartphone app in place is nothing short of corporate suicide. However, that does not mean that all organizations have to dive in…yet.