Are Your Mobile Apps Ready for 2016

Marketing & Promotion
Posted 2/10/2016 12:06:05 PM by PHIL BUCKELLEW , VP of Enterprise Mobile for IBM

Are Your Mobile Apps Ready for 2016
Mobile devices became the shopper’s device of choice for browsing and buying this holiday season, with mobile accounting for 57.2 percent of all online traffic and 36.2 percent of all online sales – respective increases of 15.2 and 30 percent over 2014, according to IBM Watson Trend

With another holiday shopping season behind us and companies working hard to come out of the gate strong in 2016, now is the time to look at what we can learn from the most successful mobile apps and what trends will mark the difference between a mobile experience that attracts customers and one that puts the relationship at risk.

Context is the new king

Business leaders across industries recognize that their users want customized mobile interactions that can only be provided when context is integrated into the mobile experience. Content used to be king, but now consumers expect quality content to be served up at the right time and in the right way.

Location-based insights have empowered businesses to create contextually relevant mobile experiences that deliver greater response rates than traditional approaches. For example, location-based insights allow a bank to determine where interactions are taking place – is the customer in a store or in a branch? When linked to the transaction history, the bank can further understand the consumer’s needs – is this a high-net worth client or a small business owner? 

Integrating detailed customer information along with other relevant information about the environment, such as the weather, builds experiences that are contextually relevant and tailored to the individual.

Creating more natural interactions

Cognitive computing represents the next frontier in mobile. Natural language processing and personality insights are two aspects of cognitive apps that let businesses take the customer experience to a new and more personalized place. A cognitive app is not just an “app on steroids;” the ability to process the way humans speak enables the app to create a better user experience resulting in higher response rates to offers and ultimately better service. 

Take the connected car. Natural language processing enables the app to understand what is being asked and offer options, without forcing the driver to take their mind off driving. This trend is not just growing in the consumer world; it’s spreading in enterprise applications. Cognitive apps designed for employee use are providing more detailed information about customers that enables more relevant and timely customer service and typically translates to add-on revenues and greater loyalty.

Securing brand and corporate reputation

Mobile security continues to be a major focal point in 2016 for consumers, IT departments and business leaders alike – specifically enterprise-level security that goes all the way from the end user touch-point to the company’s back-end systems. Without security, there is no trust and without trust, a consumer won’t want to interact with the brand, much less that brand’s mobile technology. 

Well-architected mobile security makes sure that a company is compliant with relevant regulations, while also protecting the company’s brand and its consumers.

Know the difference between good and great

Of the time that consumers spend on their smartphones, 85 percent of that time is spent within apps. That represents a tremendous opportunity for customer interaction if an app is great – and many lost opportunities if it is just good or mediocre. 

A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of IBM looked at the difference between great apps and good apps and the gap we found was dramatic. A great app produced five times more revenue opportunity. As the image shows, great apps expand sales in other channels, such as a company’s brick-and-mortar stores. They also deliver cost savings at a higher rate.

According to research from the IBM Center for Applied Insights, there are several factors that indicate if an organization is primed to build great apps. Four traits shared by organizations that build great apps include:

- Experience: At least one person on the mobile development team has 5 or more years of experience. This is a complex area that cannot be mastered overnight.

- Collaboration: A strong focus on design with regular interplay between the IT team, the business owners and end users. No great app is built in a silo.

- Analytics: A focus on innovation through analytics. That doesn’t mean tracking which apps have the most downloads, it means looking at and thinking about metrics such as what screens are used, what sentiment is dominating the app store reviews and how frequently your app is opened, where and in what context.

- Platform: The use of cloud-based platforms and mobile application development platforms set a foundation for success. Greater flexibility can set the stage for faster time-to-market and greater agility as mobile technologies change. 

Today, digital experiences are often the primary point of consumer transactions and employee interactions. In the future they may be the only one. That’s why it is so important for companies to get the mobile experience right.

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About the author: PHIL BUCKELLEW , VP of Enterprise Mobile for IBM

Phil is responsible for setting the strategy and coordinating requirements for mobile solutions across the IBM software portfolio. Ensures that IBM provides a comprehensive strategy for enterprise mobile solutions with a set of integrated offerings spanning enterprise needs including: building and connecting, managing and securing, and extending and transforming business processes with mobile offerings.

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