Apps for Business Part 1: What Can B2B Apps Learn From Consumer Apps?

by Adam Luckeroth, on Nov 17, 2014 3:47:12 PM

2015 will be the year business goes all-in with mobile. Companies know that having a mobile app makes sense because it can maximize productivity and increase the bottom line. Whether your app is for your sales team, customer support, or any other purpose, one thing is critical: You need to choose a platform that will keep things simple. After all, if no one in your organization adopts the app because it is too complex, or they need to “learn” how to use it, you wasted not just the investment in dollars, but time and confidence of staff. The one thing we can learn from consumer apps is that they need to be intuitive. Users should be able to download and start using the app without instruction.

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Since this issue is really important, I picked the brain of our mobile designer, Ian Felling. Here’s what you need to know before launching your mobile sales app.

It’s not about features, it’s about purpose.

People often ask me which features are the most important when it comes to making an app. The truth is, making sure the app delivers on whatever purpose the user downloaded it for is more important than a feature. It’s time to stop thinking about apps solely in terms of features, and instead consider them holistically. Think of apps in terms of experience and purpose, and the right features will follow.

It's a given that a great app has to be easy to use. Taking time to figure out how people will expect it to work, or how to make things more intuitive, is the most important thing to bring to app design. For example, at Modus, our features are based on a combination of what we think would help solve a problem for our users, and what they have actually requested. Ultimately, getting feedback from users and understanding how they do or will use the app is essential when determining what the product's features will be.

Analytics drive app success and monetization.

One of the key benefits of new digital technology is that we’re able to track our successes much more easily and accurately. We can monitor how our marketing and sales materials perform over time – what’s interesting to our customer and what isn’t. The benefit of a mobile sales app is that there’s no question about what works and what doesn’t work – the ability to track that information should be built in.

Take, for example, our mobile sales app that’s designed specifically to help encourage collaboration and efficiency within an organization’s sales and marketing departments. This technology allows us to track the analytics of the content and give users the ability to monitor the performance of their app. Tracking data and displaying it for the business to view and export is very important for our users. It helps the business understand how their team is using the app, and ultimately justify the cost of the app and its return on investment. This information, however, doesn’t necessarily appeal to the average consumer in the same way. Nobody needs (or wants) to know how productive and effective they are at Candy Crush.

Another way that they differ is scalability. Apps for business are likely to be scaled. As app designers, we need to be prepared for this. We need to make sure that all the user interfaces continue to be intuitive for both small teams and large enterprises. We need to make sure the user experience is great when you're dealing with 20 media files in three different categories, and also when there are 10,000 media files across hundreds of categories and subcategories.

Design a custom app in-house, or rely on a proven third party platform.

Let's say your business needs to store and share documents. You could use Google Drive’s proven easy-to-use features and your needs are met at a low cost. But if you need a feature that Google Drive doesn’t offer you have to measure if it is worth the time and investment to develop your own version. In the case of a mobile sales app, like Modus, the key is to figure out what is going to work best for the company and the ROI of each solution.

It's going to take a longer time to create a mobile sales app in-house. The quality depends on the team working on the product, and whether they've done something like this in the past. A major advantage of an in-house app is that you're going to get an app created specifically for your company. That is a good thing. But it can also come with large design, development and deployment costs. Using an existing third party platform can reduce the costs and time, while also providing an app that solves the most critical pain points you've set out to relieve. Essentially, it comes down to your two most important resources -- the budget and amount of time a business has. Also, whether your internal design and development team has the bandwidth to tackle such a project.

As of this year, the adoption of mobile technology in sales organizations has grown to nearly 70% -- and that number isn’t going down. For more information about the ROI of a mobile sales app, check out this infographic!

Now that you know how to approach making a decision about using an app in your business, the next step is to consider whether or not you want to design your own app, or use a third party platform. We’ll dig deeper into this in a few weeks, but in the meantime, if you have questions, or just want to voice your opinion, I’d love to chat! Tweet me at @AppDataRoom or send me an email!

Photo credit: Twin Design / Shutterstock.com

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Topics:AppsBusiness AppsMobileSalesTechnology

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