Are businesses turning to apps to improve business efficiency, generate sales leads, win new business and keep existing customers engaged?
This was a question posed at the Business Exposure Group meeting.
The discussion was split into two halves. Firstly, using applications to organise your business life and secondly, the value of a bespoke business app for your business.
Included in the value of applications to assist your business many of the members were regularly using Dropbox, Google Docs, Evernote, Hip Chat, Re Quall, Campfire, to name but a few.
It became clear from the outset of the discussion that very few businesses ask where does a downloaded app fit into their business? Some felt that most apps add another level of complexity into the company’s business processes, which are not always welcomed by staff who exhibit strong resistance from these business tools, as they become disruptive to familiar work patterns and create additional stress.
In the groups there was a clear difference between those businesses which operated and were heavily reliant on organisational apps, as opposed to many more conventional businesses who had not embraced the advantages of introducing this technology into the day to day functioning of their employee’s job roles. In fact, this supported research which showed that only 22% of SME’s provide apps for their employees to use at work.
One of members explained that his salesmen had increased their van sales by 450% in the last 6 months since he gave all his drivers an app that enabled them to check stock and pricing in real time, process orders and print instant invoices.
Whereas, another member stated that cash strapped business people are tempted by free online apps that promise to simplify any number of business functions, but in reality the apps require a significant amount of effort to use them effectively.
Moving the discussion onto the question of the value of providing a bespoke app was unanimously discounted for those operating in the B2B world. A good app is built to engage customers and encourage loyal customers to come back through in-depth functionality. Which is great for B2C but B2B members preferred the option to upsell with a face to face opportunity rather than an application.
Apps are only any good if they are regularly used by the customer, otherwise they just become a fad and are easily forgotten. The consensus of opinion was that money was far better spent on ensuring that a business website was up to date, functional and fully mobile enabled, instead of squandering monies on an app which many members were unclear as to how to determine a return on investment from an app, which may show evidence of a contemporary business but not necessarily one that has found the need for an app to succeed in adding significant value to their customers.
80% of businesses don’t have a mobile strategy, so the conclusion around the table was that our money is better spent improving our customer’s mobile experience rather than building a mostly useless and profitless app.