As consumers become increasingly connected with businesses on their smartphones and devices, many businesses develop mobile apps to connect with their customers. If your company is going the app route, you want to be sure it’s worth your time and money.
While a mobile app can be an invaluable tool for many companies, certain company types may not necessarily need one. Below, the members of Forbes Technology Council share their best insights to help you determine if a native mobile app is right for your business. Be sure to ask yourself these 12 questions before you begin the app development journey.
1. Are You Considering An App Because Of ‘FOMO’?
The app industry is oversaturated. Ever since 2013 with apps like Instagram and Whatsapp, people have figured out that you can make obscene amounts of money creating an app. It is similar to the dot-com bubble of 2000 where the FOMO (fear of missing out) set in and everyone wanted to create something. The thing is, most businesses do not need an app and they should focus instead on having a mobile-friendly website design. – Giuliano Senese, DX Medical Solutions B.V.
2. Would It Be Significantly Different Than An Optimized Website?
It really depends on what your company does and how it interacts with customers. In many cases, a mobile-optimized website can be just as effective as an app while requiring fewer developers, less maintenance and less time and effort to create. Ask yourself what the customer experience would be like on your app. Would it be significantly different from an optimized website? If not, don’t do it. – Ron Cogburn, Exela Technologies
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3. Could Internal Apps Make You More Competitive?
Not all businesses benefit from an app, but every business needs to build mobile apps. Every company is being forced to become a software company to compete, and companies are building hundreds of internal apps to increase competitiveness. The internal or “shadow” app market is a well-kept secret as these apps solve internal business problems away from traditional app stores. – Max Lynch, Ionic
4. What Would Daily Interactions Within Your App Look Like?
To understand whether your business or industry would benefit from a mobile app, you have to consider what those daily interactions look like from a customer’s perspective. If you’re currently in an industry where those interactions are limited, a mobile app may not receive much use and could be more of a headache than it’s worth. – Brandon Mintz, Bitcoin Depot
5. Would Progressive Web Apps Be Better For You?
There is a move towards progressive web apps (PWAs) and they are becoming better and better. Companies like PhoneGap that used to build tools for those looking to manage multiple platforms have announced end of life, citing PWAs as better solutions. There will however be applications like gaming that need to leverage system resources directly that might be more efficient apps. – Suresh Sambandam, Kissflow
6. Do We Primarily Interact With People Face-To-Face?
Businesses that exclusively interact with people face-to-face, such as a neighborhood produce store, may not need a mobile app. Also, a mobile responsive website that is fast and easy to use can be a great option. On the other hand, if your customers want to make frequent interactions with sensitive data (e.g., checking an order status), then a mobile app may be needed. – Nelson Cicchitto, Avatier Corporation
7. What Is The End User’s Context?
Always design a platform with end users in mind, and moreover, the context in which end users will interact with the platform. For example, if the business users are a mobile workforce, then a mobile app would be necessary. But if the users are predominantly on their desktops and require larger screens for complex information and functions, then mobile apps would be good to have but not crucial. – Bradian Muliadi, Analisa.io | Social Commerce Intelligence
8. Can We Extend Our Selling Workflow With An App?
A mobile app is just a method to buy, sell and get information. It is not a mandatory need. The new age makes the addition of a mobile app cool and companies can brag about it, however, the usage of an app is not a need for every industry. What a company is selling is already working, so adding a mobile app is just an extension of their selling workflow. – Bhavna Juneja, Infinity, a Stamford Technology Company
9. Could This Problem Be Solved Without A Mobile App?
As a mobile app developer, I always ask potential clients, “What’s the problem we’re trying to solve, and could you solve it without a mobile app?” Often, mobile apps are made needlessly for the sake of having a mobile app that an organization can brag about. Instead, these digital products must always serve a clear and distinct purpose. This applies to any industry. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC
10. Are We Already Providing A Valuable Online Experience?
Any company that is able to deliver its products or services online in a way that provides value to customers doesn’t need an app. If you’re already delivering everything possible to your customers through your website and online channels, an app is a waste of your time, energy and money. Apps are only useful if you can’t deliver something to customers through those other channels. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
11. Can We Create A Seamless Transition Between Experiences?
It has become almost a prerequisite to have a mobile app. While it definitely helps reach a larger population and you can get things done easily with biometrics as opposed to typing in passwords, it has almost become a way for companies to have a seamless transition. Whether they would like it or not, every company has or strives to have a mobile app presence. – Lydia Miller, TATA consultancy Services
12. How Often Do We Communicate With Our Customers?
Building an app for your company depends not so much on the industry, but mostly on the people using your service or product and its nature. If your business model requires users to interact with your company and your team rarely, you probably don’t need an app. If your customers communicate daily with your business, then it is a good idea to develop an app to make that process easier. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround