Having a custom built, branded app for your business can look like a shiny new toy; an announcement that you are tech savvy and part of the cool kids. Right? Well, yes, but you need to ask yourself a couple of questions first before you start something that can be expensive and very stressful.
Do you really need it; will it increase your efficiency or productivity or be a USP? We can’t always have what we want, and in business you need to be ruthless in your financial decisions. Unless you’re in the business of building apps, you may not get out what you put in or indeed what you imagined it to be.
I have many discussions with business owners who feel they are compelled to innovate through technology – even though they don’t understand the fit or context for their business. Everyone else is doing it and therefore, so must they.
Nobody wants to be last in any race and being first to market is of course an advantage, but last man standing often wins too.
If innovation through technology is an option for your business to grow and make money, then that should be pursued at a rigorous pace. Go as Superman, faster-than-the-speed-of-light. But if building an app is just a superficial graphic, then keep it to superficial costs as well.
I am of course confused by big organisations that have the funds and resources to build robust technology – especially retailers – and totally miss the target.
A big difference I think between small and very big business is the concentration of building a backend and the trade-offs that has. Small business looks at the customer experience in a much more intimate way, often at the expense of the backend and limited with budget borders.
Big business concentrates on the backend and keeping CFO’s and IT people happy at the expense of customer satisfaction. The user is often the last person to be satisfied in the big end of town and it’s funny how we have lower expectations of large organisations and how clunky their technology can be.
Small business has to be faster and lighter on the business dance floor, without much wiggle room for forgiveness.
I love the idea of outsourcing and anything that even remotely smells or sounds like “timesaving”, but it can often be the case that I end up project managing and inputting the same or more effort resulting in a not so hot outcome.
If you have talent strengths then exploit them and if you can find technology to do the dog work, then snap it up. Strategically I have learnt that a thorough reality check of how I apply my technology ideas will get me a much greater reward – better bottom line, satisfied staff and happy customers.
There are so many options and technology paths to run down these days and I’m all for exploring and experimenting, but I have my concerns when people think about a business idea in terms of what kind of app can they can build to make money instead of using technology to solve or disrupt a problem.
An app doesn’t always equal money. Sure, I want my business-life to be easier, but what if everybody found out I was replaceable… and you could build an app to do my work? Shh. I like my job!
Angela Vithoulkas is the founder of Eagle Waves Radio.