iOS App Development: Grow Your Business With An iOS App
With smartphones and tablets emerging as the device of choice for most people, apps are in a boom phase. Businesses are joining the bandwagon in a big way, rolling out apps that offer a world of convenience to their customers and employees alike. However, while doing so, they need to be wary of losing focus.
Apps are not just another channel to execute the entire gamut of organizational functions. The most effective apps serve specific purposes, and in the process empower the business.
Businesses also need to take a serious look at iOS application development, considering iOS apps have proven to be very engaging. An average iPhone user spends about 75% of her time on apps, probably owing to iOS applications being able to leverage the advanced features and functionality of Apple devices.
Here are some ways in which you can empower your business, using iOS application.
Roll Out Customer-Facing Apps
Customer facing iOS app is a good idea, considering Apple devices, such as the iPhone, has more than a 15% share of the total smartphone market. Such apps not only promote sales but help in engaging with customer better. Marketers may send out push notifications on key milestones, keep track of customer behavior, issue special offers when a customer is in the vicinity of a store, and do more. Customers may be given several self-service options, from keeping track of loyalty points to access of neutral product reviews, and more.
Empower Internal Teams
Imagine the world of convenience when the salesperson, on meeting with a potential or existing customer, pulls out the iPhone, opens an app that draws on data from the CRM, and gather all details about the customer, right from his purchase history to open inquiries, his preferred channels of communication, and so on. The salesperson also gets highly customized tools and relevant insights, such as market surveys, reports, and more. iOS apps facilitate similar empowerment across all functional area, be it accounts, HR, logistics, and other teams.
Forge Deep Relationship with the Ecosystem
More and more businesses seek to develop apps that help the company forge deeper relationships with their ecosystem partners, such as suppliers, contractors, and others. An app that makes explicit real-time stock levels and issue alerts would prompt suppliers to make timely deliveries, and improve the efficiency of their business as well. Contractors could log into another intuitive iOS application to get a list of open projects, deadlines, billing, and more. Channel partners could also gain from first-hand access to a ton of resources, and all the information they require, without having to make follow-ups, or spend time seeking information.
Facilitate the “Internal” Customer
An iOS app could likewise benefit the “internal customer” of the enterprise. Employees could, for instance, use an internal employee app to make leave requests, access their payroll details, stay updated on everything from upcoming team meetings to office parties, and more. Such apps eliminate complicated and time-consuming paperwork, be it filing trip sheets, expense reports, or appraisal forms. With the bulk of information readily available at their fingertips, employees can focus wholeheartedly on their core tasks, improving their productivity manifold.
Streamline Internal Processes
Many enterprise apps streamline internal workings and deliver big productivity gains. Employees starting a task could hook up to an iOS application that guides them through the specific process flow, helping them complete the task without being bogged down by doing things the wrong way, or seeking instructions. The app could also facilitate electronic submissions of documents and bills associated with the task, and make sure the next in line gets a notification to process the same. The benefits are multifold and include reduced paperwork, better productivity, faster turnaround time, and cost-cutting. Still better, employees are empowered to do the task from anywhere, at any time.
Promote “Smart” Work
Apps can help employees work smarter instead of harder. A case in point: the average employee attends 62 meetings a month, wasting a whopping 31 hours in the process. A collaborative app that enables managers to set targets, notify team members of their targets and deadlines, allow team members to submit their results, and do more can eliminate a good chunk of such meetings, and save considerable time. Such app based internal communications is also a good way to overcome silos, a big stumbling block for the free flow of information.
Transform Organizational Processes
Rolling out iOS applications could even eliminate certain traditional functions altogether. For instance, a training app that delivers instructional videos, handbooks, and other resources to the employee’s iPhone could completely eliminate the need for training sessions. The cost saved in terms of arranging training resources and the trainer’s time alone would repay the investment in the app many times over. Employees could also leverage such apps to unlock training and development opportunities not available before. The impact on employee performance and commitment are worth its weight in gold.
All the possibilities come to pass only when the app development is done right. iOS developers would do well to customize enterprise apps by giving it a distinct look and feel that resonate the brand image, offer appropriate options such as choice of languages, flexibility to enable or disable certain features, location mapping and more. The ability to customize the app and the presence of value-added features make the employee feel more connected and enhance the worth of the app.
Development of iOS apps is a far more straightforward process, compared to developing Android apps, as Apple provides standardized SDKs, APIs, and IDE needed for the application development. However, Apple’s app store discards apps that do not meet its guidelines, and as such iOS app development requires a much more concentrated and focused effort. A partnership with a reputable company to develop the iOS application helps pass the iTunes test and ensure the effort invested in the app development process does not go waste.
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With the internet, especially mobile internet now a way of life, businesses are going overboard developing enterprise apps. A 2015 Gartner survey reveals 79% of enterprises increase their mobile spending by 36%. These numbers are increasing every year and for good reasons.
Here are the basic reasons why enterprises are going overboard, developing mobile apps for their internal and external stakeholders.
1. Enterprise Apps Improve Productivity and Efficiency
Very few businesses can get away with slack in today’s highly competitive business environment. Enterprises looking to remain competitive have no option but to go all out in improving internal efficiency and boosting employee productivity, and enterprise apps contribute in a big way on both these fronts.
Enterprises apps increase employee productivity, help to optimize business processes to bring in process efficiency, and unlock insights which drive new business models. It facilitates a lean business model, with greater transparency, facilitating operations with reduced inventory and just-in-time inventory fulfillment practices.
Often, employees hit a roadblock in their quest to do something by being unable to access the required data. Enterprise apps make it easy to retrieve data. Moreover, one of the important pre-requisite before developing enterprise apps is removing data silos and fostering transparency, for apps to retrieve the data in the first place.
Mobile apps simplify what would otherwise be convoluted and even confusing processes. Armed with an app, the employee would know exactly what to do and how to do, without the risk of errors or procedural delays.
The single biggest drag on employee productivity is searching for information, preparing reports, and other routine “maintenance” tasks. Enterprise apps automate most of these processes, leaving the employee free to work on their core responsibilities.
2. Enterprise Apps Empower Field Workers
Today’s businesses are extremely mobile. They often work from multiple locations and have no option but to become go-getters, reaching out to customers at their site rather than expect them to visit their premises. The importance of sales and service has also increased manifold. A vast number of businesses, from delivery services to long-haul truck drivers, and from airport mechanics to courier companies, have agents or technicians on the field.
Until recently all these businesses were constrained by lack of real-time access to their technicians. Scheduling remote work was hit-and-miss, with the site visit depending on many variables with the main office having no control or visibility into what is going on.
Smart devices, such as tablets and smartphones, powered by enterprise apps, not just allow remote workers to remain connected to their office, but also offer real-time insights into the process. They feeding first-hand data from the ground to the enterprise system, and get analyzed data, in a recursive cycle, to gain unparalleled insights. At the customer end, full transparency and visibility into the field workers movements make the wait for service to arrive less agonizing.
Sales executives get all insights related to the customer he or she is about to visit. Their mobile app taps into all relevant data, subject it to real-time analytics and makes it available in easily consumable formats. Likewise, the executive, during the course of the meeting, can crunch data, make follow-ups, make commitments, or show projections, instantly, without having to make follow-up visits and lose the momentum.
It gets better. With IoT soon coming into the mix, remote devices can communicate with the main office, sending signals on what exactly is wrong, allowing field service technicians to make the site visit with the right tools and spares, sparing the need to make re-visits. Likewise, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technology enable even rookie field service technicians to perform complex tasks, with support from experienced hands situated even in another continent, with AR powered enterprise apps offering seamless connectivity.
3. Enterprise Apps Increase Engagement and Sales
Customer facing enterprise apps drive sales and improve customer satisfaction manifold.
E-commerce apps make it easier for customers to buy. Often customers, wanting to buy a product, are put off by the complexity of the whole process, or the need to take time out to visit the e-commerce website. The easy-to-use mobile app makes the product available in just a few easy and convenient swipes. The same convenience holds true for reaching out to the company to make inquiries, and log complaints or support tickets.
4. Enterprise Apps Unlock New Insights
In today’s information heavy age, all businesses end with up tons of data. Such data could be a source of competitive advantage if subject to analytics, to derive actionable and relevant insights. Much of the big data is unstructured in nature, in the form of MS-Word documents, emails, videos, and embedded sensor data. Using intuitive enterprise apps powered by highly intuitive analytic tools, business managers and executives may subject such data to backend analytics, and gain actionable insights, allowing them to make more informed decisions that take guesswork and “gut-feelings” out of the equation.
An automated data analysis and presentation system collect data from a variety of sources, from shipments to warranty claims, and from failure analysis reports to bills, analyze the data automatically, and offers the insights to those who benefit from it. It requires custom apps to establish the data flow, make the required analysis and personalize the presentation mechanism.
For instance, when a customer enters a store, the executive who engages with the customer enters the customer’s name or telephone number into his app, which runs on a tablet or smartphone. The intuitive backend gathers all information residing internally, including purchase history, customer support ticket information and more, and also access the latest social media information to understand current taste and information. Such information is processed in real time, analyzed to identify the product range, price range and other preferences of the customer, allowing the executive to showcase relevant products and offer deals that really strike a chord. Without an app, powered by analytics backend, such information would be near-impossible to obtain, and definitely not in real-time.
5. Rolling out Enterprise Apps is Pandering to the Market
As the adage goes, “nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Mobility is an idea that has gained currency and is now well entrenched. Today’s sophisticated users, both internal employees and external customers prefer simple interfaces as a means to deal with the underlying complexity, and they see intuitive web apps as the solution. Businesses who does not invest in enterprise apps stand the risk of alienating their stakeholders.
While conventional web-based interfaces may offer a solution to a limited extent, the changing nature of business and internet, especially the increasing number of people on the move make mobile apps expedients. Most users today anyway expect a higher level of usability and performance than what a web-based interface can deliver.
The best enterprise software is reliable, robust and up-to-date. Blindly rolling out apps left, right, and center, for the sake of it does no good. The enterprise app strategy succeeds only when there is clarity on what an app actually delivers that other touch points cannot, and then executing the app development process well, with an easy interface and powerful functionality. It helps to outsource the app development process to a competent agency who has experience and expertise in the work, and for whom developing an app won’t be a distraction from their daily routine.
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The mobile ecosystem is hopelessly fragmented, with a multitude of devices, powered by divergent flavors of multiple operating systems. Developing native platform specific apps in such a state of affairs is akin to battling against desert sand. Cross-platform development would seem as the obvious choice in such a state of affairs. Many developers simply embrace cross-platform development instead. Gartner estimates about 50% of apps are now hybrid.
The obvious benefit of cross-platform mobile application development is reduced costs. Developers spend their time and resources only once, rather than reinvent the wheel for each platform. The savings that emerge when only one instance of the software has to be maintained, on a periodic basis, offers even greater savings. Updates sync automatically to all platforms. Code re-usability and enhanced cloud-based deployments contribute to reduced costs in a big way as well. Such benefits are invaluable in a highly competitive environment where businesses are looking to cut costs and improve process efficiency in a big way.
Cross-platform development infuses consistency to the app, cutting across platforms and devices. A uniform look and feel go a long way in reinforcing the brand image and improving retention rates.
A unified code base enables rapid deployment or faster time to market. This is critical in today’s fast-paced business environment, where apps generally have a short shelf life, and changes in technology make apps obsolete by the day. It especially alleviates the issue of developers cutting corners with testing, for want of time.
HTML5 held promise as the harbinger of a cross-platform world. However, it has lost its luster in the last couple of years as it strived to forge a middle ground and ended up being neither here nor there. One of the biggest stumbling blocks of HTML5 was its inability to trump the distinct UIs of Android and Apple phones. Newer tools such as Appcelerator, PhoneGap, and others resolve such imbroglio by offering several modules and extensions that bridge the gap between platforms, and also offer unique functionality not available elsewhere. Management systems such as parallels.com enable development teams to overcome common development issues, cutting across location.
The following are some of the new tools that give cross platform mobile application development a boost:
- Appcelerator, the mobile app development platform delivers native apps, with real-time mobile analytics
- PhoneGap utilizes the FOSS environment to create HTML and Java based apps, compatible with most OS landscape.
- Xamarin offers C# codebase and code-sharing functionality on multiple platforms
- RhoMobile’s Rhodes, an open source framework, facilitates cross-platform mobile application development based on Ruby.
- Kinvey offers a cloud-based backend service for developers
- Xojo offers maintenance-free web app hosting for businesses
- Dropsource offers automated programming to source code
- Corona Labs’ tool for building 2D educational and gaming apps supports all major platforms
- Yapp allows users to create personalized mobile apps
- Cocos2D enables creating 2D apps from a single code base, cutting across platforms
- GameSalad offers applied game development solutions in an easy drag-and-drop fashion, for cross-platform deployment
- BiznessApps allow small businesses to create and manage apps without any programming knowledge
- MobinCube, a drag and drop, web-based app builder, offer rich templates that cut across platforms
- Qt allows users to code in C++ and export the app to different platforms
These tools make creating apps very easy, and within the realms of even a novice, a big development from a few years ago when mobile app development required extensive coding, possible only though seasoned developers. The ease of development facilitated by these tools further plays into making cross platform mobile application development the preferred option.
A hybrid cross-platform app leverages the power of simplicity. However, the advantages realize only when development is done the right way. For instance, extensive customization may fritter away the gains from having only a code-base. In fact, faulty implementation that fritter away the advantages is the big reason why cross-platform development has not become the established norm yet. An experienced partner helps you gain the full benefits of cross-platform application development, keeping pitfalls at bay. Get in touch with us now to leverage the expertise of our talented team, and the wealth of experience we have accumulated over several cutting edge projects.
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The steadfast march of organizations worldwide has been in one direction, a direction that has been adorned with trails of digital that promises a better tomorrow. A digital strategy that builds on the existing business, backed by a solid vision can set your jump to soar heights that would have otherwise been difficult. For businesses, embracing digital needs to be a culmination of different steps in different areas. Not every strategy works the same for all organisations as the fundamental component that makes these companies are different from each other.
Tailor IT! Or ill fit IT!
With the proper understanding of the internal and external factors of your business, there can be solid decisions taken on the best fit strategy for your requirements and constraints. The proper fit extends to the software that you use and the tools you employ to get your work done as well.
Agreed! there are areas in which a one-size-fits-all can do the job, let’s take the example of a POS software, most of these does the same job, it scans, records details of the sale and sends it to a database for storing and that’s it! Pretty straightforward, no-frills, generic software that does what it should do with great effectiveness. In the past, POS software’s might have been revolutionizing but now it’s a norm that is expected. The core components of your business would be different from another, so there needs to be an inherent customization in the App, for making it truly serve the purpose that it was built for.
General Application are not passe at all, but from the capabilities perspective, when it’s more about finding the right-fit app for the business logic, then they give away. General Apps are even fantastic when you take into consideration the wide array of features that they offer, most business users can find what they need, hidden somewhere deep amidst the many features that the product has. So, it is not short stacked nor is it less capable than its customized versions but when it comes to specifics, getting your app built from the grounds up based on clear requirements can keep things tidy, serving the business need.
Going Custom Fit in Field Service
In reality these days, the choice of a bespoke application or a custom software gets based wrongly on the money one has to spend to acquire them, But often, this strategy of immediate gratification can backfire. When your business has been supported by a certain logic, which has set you apart from the competition it becomes highly necessary that the app extends this logic to push the odds in your favor. On the other hand, if there are no specific requirements that your organization needs it is always a big “YES” to the generic application which has lower cost and quick deployment.
For field service requirements, it is imperative that the application can cover issues like ticketing, order management, SLA compliance tracking, route planning, dispatching, contract management, partner management etc., the generic applications does a great job in covering most of the requirements that a field service industry would face, but when it comes to a particular cost saving best practice or with regards to having a proprietary advantage in the app that you use, the fit of the app becomes the criteria.
The custom-built apps have improved security. Building the app with different use case scenarios in mind,the places and times in which it would be used, makes it possible to plug the security loopholes with more precision. Generic apps can never account for all the strategical security of a custom-made software but then again, if your business process does not handle anything too radical, chances are that great generic app would help you hit the nail on the head.
A custom App can go a long way in dovetailing the existing business model to the app being developed. It can align perfectly with the business model in place, making it one of the top priorities when thinking about a custom or a generic app. With low-code development options, the custom-built apps can take the best of the worlds and incorporate it into the custom app, effectively improving the go to market time. With custom apps built leveraging such new opportunities in technology, in-house developers can concentrate on the key business logic that lies at the heart of the organisation.
With the field service, the array of functions, right from inventory management, reporting, communication of the on field executives, processes and sales management, can be made possible, with great insights into each activity with good analytical capabilities. Mobile phones and tablets arm the on field executives with cameras, Wi-Fi, GPS functionality, scanners, etc. These can provide an amazing input of data that can be mined to get insights into each process, further helping to streamline the custom apps to make it more responsive to the market conditions. Mobility is a key functionality of field service apps, good field service apps can integrate the mobile strategy seamlessly into your existing structure.
Developing a great custom software would involve proper understanding of your business needs and translating them into features for your developed application. Proper thought must be put in, to gather the requirement in a way that can capture the crux of your business strategy into a digital blueprint within the application. It is vital that this be properly executed as building custom applications are a long and expensive affair that requires the right development effort. Most generic products offer their product to potential buyers to test them free of cost, this can help your company to understand the product and the way it interacts with your organization. This can help you to take decisions on the applicability of the generic app for their use.