There was a time when every article on business would open with the statement that 'every company should have a website by now'. Well that doesn't really happen anymore for one good reason: simply that pretty much every business does have a website these days, and the ones that don't are clearly lost causes.
But today there's something else that every business should have and that's apps. Did you know that 80,000 new Android devices are activated every day? And that iOS devices are doing around the same numbers or possibly even greater? And according to most industry analysts this only looks set to continue with mobile threatening to overtake more traditional ways of surfing the web entirely soon. In other words, if you don't have an app out there then you are missing out on a huge potential market and dating your company badly.
But just having a single mobile app of course is not enough - rather you should be looking into all the ways that you can benefit from apps and how they can be more than just a nuisance for mobile users, and you need to think about the type of app you want. Because really there are a number of different kinds of apps that can help a business and these vary greatly in terms of their function and the way you should go about creating and marketing them. Here are four types of app that can really help a business:
Types of Mobile Apps for Businesses
Apps Designed Purely for Marketing
The big advantage that many businesses are seeing when it comes to the various app stores is how apps can be used to promote their products or services, and this is indeed a potentially very effective use for a mobile app. All you have to do to take advantage of this opportunity is to release an app that does something useful and to distribute it entirely freely. This way you can rack up thousands upon thousands of downloads in a short space of time, and then link directly from the app to your company website so that users can find your products and services (something which traditional advertising can't do of course). Furthermore, even if users don't download your app necessarily, they'll still be likely to come across it in the Play Store or App Store and this way you'll increase your brand awareness.
Apps Designed to Supplement Your Service/Product
Another way companies can use apps is by providing their customers with apps to increase their user experience. For instance, many banks these days have apps that allow customers to check their balances on the move and this is a great way to make that service much quicker and more convenient. Meanwhile Microsoft has recently taken advantage of the mobile space with its 'Xbox Smartglass' app which enhances the gaming experience for Xbox owners. Think about how your service could be improved with a free app and you'll create a more satisfied customer base and muscle out the competition.
Apps Designed for Internal Use
Businesses that look at social media as purely a marketing platform and ignore the plentiful B2B and internal applications are missing a big trick and the same is true of mobile apps. The apps you design don't necessarily have to be commercial in nature - rather they could be used in order to help your staff perform their job more quickly, track and backup information more efficiently or communicate more intuitively which could help to cut overheads and minimize error. This carries all the benefits of bespoke software but combined with better mobility.
Apps Designed to Make Money in Their Own Right
Of course businesses don't have to look at apps entirely as supplementary to their existing business model - an app can be part of your business model. As long as you can think of an app that fits with your organization's mission statement, and as long as you have the resources to program and design a sturdy piece of software, this can be a fantastic extra source of revenue and help to create a more diverse and resilient business structure. This doesn't even have to be a time consuming task - if you have a website then your app could simply streamline access to that content.
In other words then you are definitely missing out on countless opportunities if you don't have a mobile app - but even if you do, you may still be thinking too narrowly in its usage. Think about what other benefits you could get from a mobile application and how you could get more from those you've already developed. Smartphones are still only in their infancy, so it's time to start trailblazing and exploring their full potential.