Mobile apps have become tablestakes both for B2B and B2C. Yet, just because apps are now seen as essential to any digital strategy, it doesn’t mean we can get comfortable. Change is constant. Brands will need to continually adapt as both technology and the marketplace suggest new directions.
As we head into 2015, we spoke with Mike Haney, Chief Creative Officer at Mag+, to get his sense on what to watch for and keep in mind both for brands and the development community. Here are his five predictions.
1. Apps will get more and more targeted
When companies first began developing apps, they were multipurpose. If an extra feature or functionality could be fit into an app, it was. That’s changing. We’re going to see people going back to the idea of apps as tools, meaning apps will be created to address very targeted needs. On the B2C side, the app world is getting more and more crowded, so the more specific you can make an app, the easier it is for someone to get the value out of that app.
What’s driving this in the B2E (business to employee) space is the consumerization of IT. Technology managers charged with mobile strategies are trying to create natural interactions for business-focused tools based on what people do daily with their phones. Facebook is a great example. After breaking out photo and chat from what was once an all-in app, it’s training people to think differently about how they use their devices. We’ll see more specificity going forward.
2. Apps will get more disposable
Along with apps targeting very specific purposes, businesses will get more comfortable with a shorter app shelf life. In the early days this was unheard of because of the amount of money invested in apps. Now with third-party app platforms like Mag+ and others making it easier and easier to build apps, organizations can bring apps to market quickly that are intended to meet short-term objectives.
Take fashion brands, for example. A sales app that is devoted to this season’s catalogue is then archived, or even thrown away, and a new one is built for the next season, allowing the brand to always stay current.
The same holds true for “versioning,” which is picking up a lot of steam. A large global brand can build a base sales app at headquarters, but then that app becomes localized so each region around the world has its own app. This enables sales teams in different geographies to add and subtract relevant material.
3. Apps will be used more for marketing
As people get over the idea that an app is permanent, apps will be seen routinely as another tool in the marketing toolbox. While the web and social media serve important functions, mobile brings unique qualities to a marketing campaign. Targeting a device that’s with a consumer all the time, marketers are seeing the huge potential to leverage things like location, photo-sharing and messaging to build more engagement.
4 .Apps will get more plentiful in B2E
Today, IT departments have directives to build more apps and increase the mobile app presence for their companies, particularly for B2E and internal applications. More and more, mobile apps are being seen as a tool of the enterprise. This represents a shift away from seeing them only as a broadcast mechanism aimed at a public audience, to having specific purposes targeting a particular group of people, such as members of an organization, university alumni, etc.
5. App communication — and 2-way communication — will become more frequent
To maintain user engagement, all apps are working hard now to find the right communication frequency. This is true whether you’re trying to reach a million consumers or five sales people. For example, with internal sales apps, updates will become more regular as a means to communicate regularly with sales teams and share up-to-the-minute information whether it be product-related, an HR message or to explain changes in policy.
On the consumer side, a trend that’s already happening and will become more practiced, is personalizing messaging based on users’ location, actions taken or opt-ins. Along with this, apps will incorporate feedback mechanisms more and more, providing ways for users to participate in two-way communication. This could include anything from a survey to tap-here-to-send-a-comment. The app only as a one-way broadcast mechanism won’t be enough going forward.