Today we talk with Rhianna Collier, Director of the SIIA Software Division, about how mobile applications are re-shaping the way we do business.
1. In your view, what has changed most in the mobile business space since the All About Mobile conference last year?
A lot has changed since last year. Last year, businesses were still trying to figure out if they needed a mobile strategy and today they are determining exactly what that strategy looks like. One of the big things we have seen is the focus on mobile as a marketing platform. Business are realizing, what better way to reach potential customers than on the devices that are always within their grasps. Mobile is becoming a significant part of a marketers overall strategy
2. We’ve all seen a remarkable consumer uptake of sophisticated mobile devices, first with smartphones and more recently with tablets, most notably the Apple iPad. What impact has this had on the way business thinks about mobility? Is it reducing the sales cycle for vendors of mobile solutions?
You could look at it like the consumer is the business professional. Because in many cases, businesses are seeing their executives using their personal mobile devices to carry out business. So even if a company is not officially supporting mobile business, it is happening anyway because the executives realize mobile is necessary to be more productive today. This has had a huge impact on the way business thinks about mobility. While I believe companies have accepted the need for mobile business, they are still going to be cautious so I don’t believe the sales cycle for vendors of mobile solutions is going to see a big change, not yet.
3. Access devices aside, what changes are you seeing with regards to the type of mobile applications being used by businesses? What are the hot categories right now, and which emerging ones should we keep an eye on for the future?
In the past year there have been some great innovations in mobile applications. The financial industry made some strides with mobile bank deposits and transfers. Location based services are becoming more and more predominant with sales teams. These applications are now allowing sales teams to track locations of reps and sales calls but also track customers. We will see location based applications continue to evolve providing more detailed tracking of sales teams and customers. We will also see more of these applications targeting specific verticals like the insurance industry where it is critical to have location based information in the event of an emergency.
4. Businesses are increasingly launching apps of their own to tap into their customers’ enthusiasm for all things mobile. Do you have any advice or suggestions for companies who have not yet done this but are thinking of developing one?
First, if you do not have a mobile version of your product you should put that at the top of your to-do list. It is absolutely critical in today’s marketplace that your product or solution is available on mobile devices, optimized for the small screens. You need to decide first if you want to build a mobile version of your website, basically a scaled down version of your website optimized for the small screens, or create a native mobile application, which then needs to be customized for the different mobile platforms. The challenge with developing native mobile apps is the many different platforms that must to be supported. It is important to develop the application so that it translates in all languages. Businesses are more successful if the application has the same look and feel across multiple operating systems as many people use different devices supported by different platforms.
5. In today’s tough & uncertain economic environment globally, how do you make the business case for embracing mobile business? Does a focus on cost savings resonate with decision-makers? Are justifications based on revenue increases credible? Are there other factors at play?
Making a case for mobile business is certainly not as difficult as it once was. In fact, it is pretty simple, it is about customer expectations. Mobile allows your team to communicate more effectively and therefore improving communication and service to the customer. Business executives and customers expect to have relevant information, in real-time, and on any device they have available. Again, your customers expect this type of service and availability, if you are not providing it your competitor is only a click away.
6. What trends do you see for the year ahead regarding mobile business?
In the next year we will see the worlds of mobile and social collide in businesses. We thought that mobile business alone was creating this amazing ability to collaborate with our colleagues and customers in real-time but add the social component into mobile applications and we are taking communication and customer service to a whole new level. There are some exciting things headed our way.
The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) is hosting a major ISV conference, All About Mobile, in San Francisco on November 15 2011.
Software Shortlist is proud to be an Industry Partner of All About Mobile 2011. We will soon be running a contest giving away a free pass. Stay tuned for more details…