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So you want an app? Here’s everything you need to do to plan for success

When we sit down with new clients, we aren’t just focused on the custom software or mobile app that needs to be built. We’re usually discussing their overall business goals, and how an app can strategically help achieve those objectives.

“Often, it’s a business development or business flow meeting,” says our CEO, Vince O’Gorman. “We talk about their everyday operations and what performance looks like, so that we can fully immerse ourselves in how their business works –– as well as the problems that need to be addressed.”

Specific audiences or user groups are always central to challenges that an application solves, explains O’Gorman. However, when a company is just starting with an app, it doesn’t always know who the core users will be, he says. Figuring this out together is a key part of the discovery process of app development, and integral to the ongoing business success of the eventual product. 

“The core of an application is user management, which is why we build apps that can be scaled, providing solutions for problems affecting the users we’ve identified, as well as any future audience groups,” O’Gorman says. 

While every company has different needs that are unique to them, there are a few common business problems apps solve. 

Addressing operational and process challenges

A 2021 report from Gartner, reveals that investment in the social or collaboration market –– which includes enterprise apps designed for internal company use by employees –– is forecasted to be up by 17.1 per cent year over year, totaling $4.5 billion. 

“The need to support remote work during COVID-19, as well as social software integrations within other enterprise applications, is driving significant growth,” says the report. 

Changes to workforce structure that have driven demand for technology that facilitates open conversations and information sharing is a trend O’Gorman has also identified. 

“Many of our app objectives are centered on process benefits for users, such as document management, project management and staff or board communication and collaboration,” he says. Organizations increasingly utilize applications or software to manage tasks, address challenges and connect with staff who may not be working in the office anymore. 

Keeping information secure and maintaining efficient records is an essential part of this business need as well, and is also required for compliance and auditing purposes, O’Gorman concludes. 

Boosting organizational agility and efficiency 

There’s been a tremendous shift from brick and mortar to digital business in recent years, which has inspired investment in cloud computing and applications, according to 2019 Gartner findings. And while Gartner says that cost optimization is important for businesses, the greater benefit might be agility, speed and feature functionality.

O’Gorman agrees, noting that the improved efficiency resulting from a standalone product like an application often leads to a plethora of operational improvements across the business because it enhances the overall structure of an enterprise. 

“A streamlined digital process can save tremendous employee or owner time in comparison to the traditional methods of something like document management or record keeping,” he says. “People may not think about it, but working through Excel spreadsheets at home at night is time and money lost that can be addressed by applications or software.”

Driving revenue or product and service engagement

If we switch gears from enterprise applications to consumer-facing product or service apps, the business case changes slightly — though not the focus on users — says O’Gorman. In this case, the “problem” that is solved during development is ensuring the commercialized product can actually make money. 

Globally, revenue generated by apps is on the rise and set to reach $935 billion by 2023, according to forecasts from Statista. To ensure clients succeed and score a piece of that pie, the Vog App Developers team focuses on identifying the path to revenue –– or essentially, the overall business case for the app. 

“We always start by having a conversation about the value the app can provide, how it will do that and if the time, effort and cost is going to lead to a significant enough return on investment,” says O’Gorman. 

Google’s AdMob service articulates some standard app monetization strategies that can be employed, which include:

  • Creating both free and paid versions of an app, with the paid version obviously providing enhanced functionality.
  • The in-app purchases model, which is free to download and use, but requires payment to access premium features.
  • A subscription model (more often applied to service-oriented apps), which is free to download and use, but offers a subscription plan to fully access all available content or features.

Whether the planned outcome is to improve operations and efficiency or to bring a product or service to market, an informed business strategy that focuses on solving problems for target users –– and ultimately business growth –– should always be at the heart of application development. 

“We build more than apps. We build businesses,” says O’Gorman.