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Mobile-Apps: The ‘Next Big Thing’ Driving Business Growth

April 3, 2016
Editor(s): Mayumi Edirisinghe
Writer(s): Kayley Loo, Claire Shinkfield, Elise Coorey, Alistair de Steiger

In recent years it has become almost impossible to ignore the world’s movement online, with the millennial generation leading the way into the ‘on-demand economy’. A growing mobile market implies it is no longer enough for businesses to be solely based on a website. With people spending more time in front of mobile phones, it is no surprise that the mobile platform has become a marketing opportunity businesses find hard to overlook.

Developing an app can have a multitude of benefits for a business which far exceed the low start-up and maintenance costs. According to Deloitte’s Media Consumer Survey in 2014, 81% of Australians own a smartphone. Therefore, deploying an app via a major app store such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store can potentially expose the business to new customers through its large user base. A thoughtful interface and an appealing icon design can bolster a business’ marketing strategy and further assist with branding. Furthermore, businesses can keep existing customers returning by integrating loyalty programs, sending push notifications with updates and special offers and replacing the traditional email newsletters. Ultimately, what really makes the difference is the opportunity for businesses to directly connect with customers on a more intimate level.  

Many large corporations, such as fast food chains and banks, have widely used apps that complement the services they offer providing customers a personalized service experience. A growing number of small to medium sized businesses are also looking to integrate technology into their strategies by entering the app scene.

MAKING LIFE EASIER

With the world’s movement towards an on-demand, online economy, consumers are constantly focusing on making their life as comfortable and convenient as possible. So any opportunity to achieve mundane tasks with less effort is valued. This is where mobile apps come into play to cater to such needs and draw customers in. Businesses have very quickly recognised this consumer trend, and many have grasped the opportunity to target the mobile market. With people no longer willing to ring for a taxi, apps like Uber have stormed the scene, experiencing phenomenal success through their appeal to the younger generation, whilst also taking advantage of consumers’ desire for improved customer service. With the promise of mints, water and the GPS tracking of an Uber, consumers are quickly beginning to prefer the service over the traditional taxi.

Another significant reason to get on board with the app technology is the minimised costs that an online business allows. Businesses are leveraging the use of mobile apps to maximise the efficiency of their operations. A prime example is Stryker Corporation, a multibillion dollar medical technology giant with a multinational market space. Through the introduction of mobile apps that allow employees to present pricing and leasing quotes to clients on tablet devices, the company has managed to reduce printing expenses by $2 million USD. It is clear from these prime examples why mobile applications are quickly gaining momentum in spearheading business growth through improved efficiency.

IS IT WORTH IT?

The cost of developing apps can be as little as $200 (at a very basic level), with more advanced application technology developed totalling amounts shy of $8000 in most cases. Another potential cost of app development is the likelihood of a software bug. With such defects, users are 40% more likely to abandon an app. In addition, personal online security has also recently become an issue, especially in the mobile banking industry, with scams and hackers plaguing the mobile scene. Consequently, the repercussions of such errors can be significant on the business, with the cost of repairs often substantial. However, apps are constantly being updated with debugging processes and banks are constantly taking measures to improve the level of security. Realistically, when dealing with technology, there is always going to be some risks which on the other hand, can be managed quickly or eliminated by the innovative advancements. The ultimate rewards that are reaped through a movement towards mobile applications far outweigh these costs.

But to truly appreciate the effect mobile apps have in driving this increased prosperity, we must analyse statistical evidence of app usage to help gauge the spear of influence this marketing opportunity has.

Consumers are constantly increasing their digital time and paid mobile app downloads are augmenting at a rapid pace. Figure 1 clearly shows the steep incline of paid mobile downloads from a mere 2.89 billion in 2011 to a projected 13.49 billion this year; an increase surpassing well over 10 billion paid mobile applications. Studies also suggest that business apps and e-commerce apps are experiencing far higher repeated users and consistent traffic performance compared to most other app niches (Socialnomics, 2015). On top of this, Americans are on average spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using mobile devices as seen in figure 2. Of this total, they spend 90% of time using apps and only 10% of time using a mobile browser (such as Safari). These figures highlight the increasing opportunity for business growth through this facet

Figure 1

Figure 2

BENEFIT OF CONSTANT SCREEN PRESENCE

Taking a screen spot on a mobile device can help increase brand awareness of a company and increase consumer confidence, boosting business prosperity. Studies on brand awareness created by mobile apps found that 61% of app users have a better opinion and estimation about a business or brand with a native mobile app (Socialnomics, 2015). This continuous screen presence of mobile apps naturally creates a better brand impression, increasing the likelihood of the consumer to purchase products from that company.

A DIRECT INFLUENCE

There are numerous music orientated applications which are displaying this growth. ‘Pandora’ was already a popular music streaming website via desktops, but when the company entered the mobile app marketplace their revenue and popularity greatly increased. The app version of this music service had all of the same features but allows users to take music with them anywhere they had a mobile signal. This resulted in Pandora becoming one of the top 25 grossing developers in the app marketplace in 2012 (Epiricalworks, 2013).

Another clear example where entering into the app marketplace has directly increased business revenue would be the InterContinental Hotel Groups (IHG) development of their ‘booking on-the-go’ mobile app. In 2012 booking via the mobile app accounted for 30% of their revenue (Epiricalworks, 2013). Through cross platform mobile app development, IHG was able to offer customers a quick way to book a room, even if they didn’t have access to a computer. In fact, for users booking within 48 hours of their hotel stay, 60% used the app while only 30% used the desktop website (Epiricalworks, 2013). This increased efficiency in hotel booking would have greatly contributed to IHG’s overall revenue.

THE WAY TO THRIVE IN TODAY’S MARKET

A concept unthinkable in the past, businesses can now infiltrate a potential customer’s daily routine by accessing new pockets of time. With the connectivity options of improved broadband networks and swelling WIFI hotspots; airport terminals, elevators, backseats of Ubers and coffee shops are all becoming second hand business sites. The emergence of “business mobility” is translating into a level of efficiency previously thought to have been at a zenith with the birth of the internet.

As we push deeper into the 21st century the physicality of businesses is evolving. With eBay setting a precedent, the age of the internet has paved the way for revolutionizing how customers can be accessed. The current trends in app technology advancement revolve around potential customers being targeted based on geotagging software incorporated into the interface of a business’ app. The power of modern smartphone advertising can now be contextually optimized to a geographical pinpoint. These functions allow a consumer to locate the nearest ATM, petrol station, movie theatre or nightclub whilst these businesses are simultaneously drawing in nearby customers.

The move to a more digital workspace is being adopted across the industries. The booming bandwagon of business mobility is deviating away from being merely a trend to becoming an absolute necessity for a company to thrive in today’s markets. It’s either app up or wrap up.

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The CAINZ Digest is published by CAINZ, a student society affiliated with the Faculty of Business at the University of Melbourne. Opinions published are not necessarily those of the publishers, printers or editors. CAINZ, our Partners and the University of Melbourne do not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in the publication.