For some companies, a mobile app is an essential component of their business strategy. An app can help engage customers, streamline operations, improve service delivery, or even cut costs.
But all too often, an app is more about looking cool than establishing a sustainable business model. We see too many startups and established companies dive into the app deep end without thinking it through.
Does your business really need an app? Here are four things to consider so you can make an informed decision. If you meet one or more of these criteria, an app might be right for you.
1. Does the solution already exist?
One of the reasons businesses gravitate toward apps is that they can be great tools to generate more revenue or cut costs. Sometimes they can do both.
Before you rush into building an app from scratch, find out whether there is an existing solution that could accomplish your objectives. Using an off-the-shelf product might not have the flash and excitement of a “we’re building an app!” announcement, but it may be a more sound business decision.
If no existing solution meets your needs, building an app might be right for you.
2. Is your app being pulled or pushed?
I’m not talking about push notifications here. The “pull” I’m referring to is customer demand. Are your customers pulling at you for services or products that you just don’t have the technology to deliver? A mobile app might be the solution, if it would allow you to better meet customer demand.
If it’s the other way around, where you’re trying to push the app on your existing customer base, you’ve got the wrong idea. Rethink your app strategy. Here are five questions to ask yourself before moving to the next step.
If your customers are asking for something, could more people use your app? You may have identified a blindspot in the marketplace. In which case, jump on it before someone else gets the same idea.
3. Is your app twice as good?
The advice I give any entrepreneur who is looking to launch a new technology is to make sure your solution is twice as good as what’s already out there. If your app is going to be similar to an existing platform or a marginal improvement on other software, you’re setting yourself up for an uphill battle in branding, marketing, and sales. You’ll be constantly compared to the existing solutions, and potential customers will nitpick the differences.
If you’re building something that’s twice as good, however, the conversation changes. The advantages of your app become clearer. Don’t throw in features just trying to make random improvements; do some research to understand where the gaps in the current solutions are and how you could fill those gaps to better meet customer demand.
4. Do you need the IP?
Owning the intellectual property (IP) can be necessary in some cases to prevent vendors from raising costs or slowing down product development. A lack of IP ownership can lead to a scenario called Vendor Lock-In. Here’s what you need to know about vendor lock-in.
If technology is a critical component to your business’s infrastructure or revenue model, building your own mobile app might be a good idea because you will own the IP. You won’t be at the mercy of one vendor’s pricing or product roadmap. You control the technology: you decide how much to invest in new features and which ones to build. This can help you better meet the demand of your customers, not your vendor’s customers.
Ready to start building your first app? Still not sure if an app is right for your business? Visit shrinedev.com/discovery to learn more or reach out to our team and tell us about your business. We’ll help you figure it out, no strings attached.