By Marc Arbesman, ThrottleNet, Inc.
Many business owners are studying the impact of the growing mobile marketplace. Cell phone and tablet sales are increasing by tens of millions each year and executives are gauging how to interact with these devices to improve sales, enhance customer interaction and improve worker efficiency.
Consumers are not only purchasing these smaller devices for social use but are utilizing them to conduct business transactions. This trend will continue to increase. According to research firm Forrester, mobile commerce will reach $31 billion by 2016. A report by marketing research firm Gartner predicts by 2015 mobile apps will account for 50% of all sales.
The increasing mobile market is coinciding with a decreasing market for PCs. Gartner released a study that said PC shipments dropped more than 5 per cent in the United States in the second quarter of 2012. Sales were flat globally as well.
The marketplace is opting in for faster, smaller devices and opting out of larger traditional machines. As smart phones and tablets become more sophisticated the need for PCs will decrease. Larger, slower computers will be placed on the back shelves and be less visible in the workplace.
In order to meet the need of the growing mobile consumer market business models will need to change. Strategies need to be created to define new methods of how a company interacts with customers and employees.
Speed-driven smart phones are driving users to get their information faster and in a form that is easy to use. Not only do they wish to be able to transact business 24 hours per day, seven days per week, but also with the highest degree of security and safety.
Many businesses are already analyzing the overall benefit associated with this growing market. This is creating a large need for mobile applications. Large and small companies are exploring how these applications can help their firm.
Business owners need to understand that mobile apps are not just rehashed smaller versions of a corporate website. In order to benefit the customer, and/or employees, the application needs to be designed especially for optimal use on a smaller device. Whether it is an order form, product sheet or staff memo users are demanding fast, near-instantaneous downloads built on a platform optimized for the consumer experience.
Mobile applications should be designed not only for today but to meet the future needs of your organization. This includes establishing a budget, developing a project time frame, defining a target audience and paying attention to the overall functionality of the application. It should also be easy to maintain.
Security issues should also be addressed as part of the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend that has been problematic for many organizations. In order to access data and transactions on-the-go, companies are allowing direct access from mobile devices to back-end and cloud based systems. Sensitive information can easily be exposed or hacked with unprotected devices. Managing these apps after they have been downloaded and installed on devices has never been more important.
Businesses should be cautious however about enlisting any tech firm for this task. Employing a technology consultant with experience in mobile application development, and understanding the related business principles involved, is a must.
The consultant should have the knowledge to integrate the mobile platform easily into your existing IT infrastructure. They should have the knowledge to help expand and transform your business.
The timing is right for businesses to address the mobile user and create applications specially designed for the growing mobile marketplace. Failing to do so could lead to lost sales opportunities and decreases in revenue. It could also lead to lower awareness and lower branding as more astute competitors take advantage of the new mobile opportunity.