It's All About That App

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
Mobile Apps

A mobile-first strategy is essential, but, in most cases, it's not enough to rely on a mobile browser to get the job done. Dedicated apps are mission-critical.

It's increasingly clear that the march to mobility and apps is nothing short of revolutionary. Before the iPhone, the iPad and Android, the idea of pulling out a device and doing anything more than viewing a Web page was pretty much inconceivable. Heck, it was tough enough to keep your contacts synced on the phone.

But that was then, and this is now. About 50 percent of traffic now flows through mobile devices, and that figure is projected to rise to around 90 percent by the end of 2021, according to a report from Ericsson.

It's not difficult to understand why mobile devices and apps are faster and easier to use. You pull out your phone, scan or tap an item, and, if you have a credit card on file or you're using Apple Pay, you can complete the transaction instantly.

According to comScore's 2016 "U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus" report, mobile now accounts for 60 percent of online shopping (though it currently tallies only about 16 percent of the dollars spent). However, sales from mobile devices in the United States spiked by 56 percent to $49.2 billion in 2015. That's nearly double the previous year's growth. By contrast, desktop sales grew only 8.1 percent last year, though they stand at a still formidable $256.1 billion.

Tech-savvy consumers are even more gung-ho on using mobile. comScore reports that 69 percent of high-tech shoppers research products on a mobile device, and 76 percent track deliveries through their smartphone or tablet.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that shoppers are increasingly "snacking" when they pull the strings on a purchase. They are essentially using their phones to make smaller purchases in shorter bursts throughout the day.

But mobile apps aren't revolutionizing only the retail industry. They're transforming everything from travel and transportation to sports and entertainment. It's simple to buy plane and train tickets online, purchase concert or theater tickets, book rooms at Airbnb or a hotel, make dining reservations through OpenTable, and even view enhanced media at sporting events or movie theaters. It's also easy to store these documents electronically in the phone

There are two major takeaways here. First, a mobile-first strategy is now essential. Organizations—and the IT teams that develop Websites and apps—must think small screen first and scale up from there.

In most cases, it's also not enough to rely on a mobile browser to get the job done. Dedicated apps are mission-critical.

Second, business now takes place over multiple channels. Without an omnichannel strategy and tight integration, you will be breathing the digital exhaust of competitors.

This article was originally published on 2016-05-06
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
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