Time is Money-New Generation Mobile Apps
By Mark Orttung, CEO, Nexient
At this point, enterprise mobile applications are widely adopted and seen by most consumers as table stakes for a brand’s digital presence. While most enterprises have mobile apps in place, there continues to be significant opportunity to create value with new mobile applications.
Those apps that eliminate waiting from a business process deliver the most value in today’s environment. Once a user starts to experience a process where an app (and its back-end infrastructure) has removed a significant amount of waiting, it’s incredibly difficult to go back to the process without that time savings.
There are many examples of apps that have eliminated waiting from a common process on the market. One favorite is Order Ahead. It’s an example of a genre of apps which allow you to order food for pickup at a restaurant. At its best, it eliminates a lengthy wait to place an order, the time it takes to make your order, and all of the steps involved in paying for your order.
A second example is seen in the ability for any employee in an Apple store to complete your purchase on their iPhone. Rather than going to the exit and getting in line to pay, you simply complete the purchase wherever you are in the store. They’ve streamlined the credit card process so fully, and even cash transactions can be handled by them seamlessly taking the cash, entering the amount into the iPhone app, and a cash drawer magically opens out of an end of the table, enabling the employee to make change.
A third example of using an app to dramatically reduce waiting in a process is Silvercar. Itis a new rental car company, which has set out to recreate an age old process with no waiting, enabled by a mobile app. It allows customers to create a rental car reservation from their phones. Where the real-time savings come in when the customer gets to the lot and can use the mobile app to unlock the car and drive away. While it’s early, the goal is clear – no lines at all and none of the paperwork typically involved in a car rental.
Making meaningful changes to your customer-facing processes will drive the next generation of enterprise mobile apps and create delight for your customers
While many of the leading car rental companies have some approach to getting you out of the lot quickly, none of them have made it the only way to rent a car and it seems that for most on a rental car lot, there is a trip to the counter involved in completing the transaction. Removing 15 – 30 minutes from every rental is a significant change to the standard process.
The aforementioned apps point the way for enterprises to identify new ways they can deliver significant value to their customers.
As the author William Gibson said, “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Most enterprises could look at the core processes they put their customers through and identify significant portions of the process that could be eliminated with new mobile apps. Have you looked at your customer processes this way? Where are you making your customers wait for you or your team? How can you eliminate most or all of that waiting? Making meaningful changes to your customer-facing processes will drive the next generation of enterprise mobile apps and create delight for your customers.
How do you go about making all of this possible in your enterprise? The simplest of front end apps often have very complex architectures behind them to make all of the capabilities possible. The more you have opened up your enterprise architecture, the easier it will be to reinvent how your customers experience your process. By moving to micro services architecture across the enterprise, you’ll expose more sub-components of your business to be combined in new ways by the mobile app. This will allow your customer-facing teams to experiment and iterate with how they combine services to get to the most efficient process for your customers.
Going on a mission to eliminate waiting for your customers through next generation mobile apps will deliver a number of side benefits as well. If the configuration of your product or service has many options, having those specified in the mobile app will cut back on errors in specifying the purchase. Order Ahead does a particularly good job on this front, allowing the customer to specify preferences on complex food orders in a way that they won’t get mixed up. You will also be able to gather significant amounts of data about your customers’ buying habits and how they are making decisions. The other great benefit you’ll see with this type of app is that you’ll have a great platform for testing offerings and iterating with your customers at critical points in the process. As with A/B testing on a web site, the more you can iterate, gather data, and continuously improve the process for your customers, the better your experience will be (and the more differentiated your brand will be).
So as you look for where to put the focus for your next generation of enterprise mobile apps, take a look at where your customers are spending the most time waiting. That is most likely the place where you should make your investments and reinvent how you interact with your customers. If you don’t do it, it’s likely that someone else will.