Mobile Cloud Apps

Last year, Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and co-founder of Ning, declared that software is eating the world.

“…we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.”

Additionally, mobile devices have now outpaced traditional PC growth. Last year 25% of internet users accessed the internet using a smartphone or a tablet. And that figure is growing – really fast. Finally, in 2012 IDC predicted that 80% of new commercial enterprise apps will be deployed on a cloud platform.

What’s going on here? We’re becoming a software-centric world. And more importantly, we’re becoming a world dominated by mobile devices and cloud computing.

If you don’t have your own software application or mobile app yet, you should….or you should at least be thinking about building your own app.

Consider building not just for the web, iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tablets – consider Windows 8 apps as well. After all, according to IDC, Windows 8 tablet growth is expected to explode, with expected growth of 69% per year!

Here are some ideas that should inspire you:

Build an App so Your Customers Can Manage Their Service with You

If your customers can log on to your website to manage their account with you, you should build an app.

There are many types of services that fall into this category:

  • Car insurance
  • Web hosting
  • Online Banking
  • Software as a Service, such as Accounting Software or CRM
  • Airline or Hotel Rewards Program
  • Cable TV service
  • Cell Phone Service

…the list goes on.

Build an app so customers can easily manage, configure and add services using their smartphones or tablet device. Don’t force them to go to your website, even if it is mobile responsive.

A mobile or tablet application will enable your users to easily control the services you provide them without having to remember your URL, or use their thumbs to type in their username and password.

A perfect example of this is hosting company Rackspace, purveyors of “Fanatical Support,” and hosting provider to some of the world’s most demanding websites. We built a Windows 8 app for them so Windows 8 tablet and smartphone users can quickly add servers when they’re expecting traffic spikes, or dial down service during traffic lulls.

Make Your App Cloud Friendly

If you already have an app, you need to build a cloud version of that app.

The IT department is quickly being replaced by the cloud. The invention of cloud-based computing made possible by services such as Windows Azure, Amazon Web Services and the Google Cloud Platform, has made possible an explosion of cloud-based applications where maintenance, back-up and security is managed by the cloud providers themselves.

Most new enterprise apps created today, according to the above-mentioned statistics by IDC, are being built for the cloud. And according to a recent survey by Spiceworks, 62% of small businesses report they are using some sort of cloud application.

If you are an ISV and you provide a client-server application, you need to seriously start transitioning your software into a cloud-based app.

A large number of the calls we get are from ISVs that need to build a cloud version of their app. We recently helped a provider of software for law firms build a cloud version of their application. The project took nine months, and required many man hours, but the end result was worth it. They are now poised for substantia growth for 2013 and beyond.

Build an App to Make Your Services More Efficient or Cost Effective

If you can automate manual processes or save money for your customers, you should build an app.

The TV program “Cops” has shown the world that all police departments now use dashboard cameras to record routine traffic stops. And sometimes these routine stops turn into full-blown police dramas.

But did you know that these patrol car recording systems are very expensive to operate because of the proprietary DVRs needed to record and store video footage?

We helped the firm COPsync, makers of police video recording, editing and playback systems, cut costs by creating a PC-based system. Now police departments can record higher quality HD video, and store it inexpensively on standard laptops using smart software compression.

What parts of your business can you make more efficient by building an application to cut costs or do things more efficiently?

Build your Product or Service with a Software Component

If you sell a product or a service, you should make software an essential part of your offering.

Here are more ideas for how you can use your own application to make your business more efficient or more competitive (some of these may already be in existence, but please indulge me for a minute):

  • Auto manufacturers are now essentially software applications on wheels. The fuel injection system, emissions monitoring, climate control, maintenance detection, and more, rely on software. If you’re an auto mechanic today, you are also an IT guy.
  • Manufacturing companies now rely on software to stay competitive. Dell pioneered the use just-in-time manufacturing which revolutionized their business model. This was made possible by software. Advanced Micro Devices manages a complex partner network using an online portal that we built for them.
  • HR departments have become software service providers. When you start a new job, you fill out your health insurance forms on the corporate intranet. You may also meet your new colleagues online and “friend” them through an internal corporate social network enabled by the HR department.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. There are so many apps you could create. You’re limited only by your imagination.

But if you don’t build an app soon, you’ll be left behind. As Forbes said:

“Regardless of industry your company is now a software company, and pretending that it’s not spells serious peril.”

How will you build your app?

So now you know you need an app to remain competitive in the 21st Century…what now? Most companies don’t have the software expertise to build the modern, internet-based or mobile applications being built today.

If you do have the expertise, go for it! If not, you would have to hire a company that specializes in building software applications.

That’s where Making Sense comes in. For more information on how Making Sense can help you, click here.