Creating a great digital Customer Experience has become increasingly important to businesses, with the move to mobile itself taking the throne as a top priority. We asked 2 of our experts to shed some light on the importance of mobile apps to companies in the B2B space and give advice to companies looking to create a mobile app for business customers.
Meet the experts:
Greg Barlin has over 15 years of experience managing and delivering large-scale technology implementations to Fortune 500 companies. He’s been exclusively focused on user experience and delivering end-to-end enterprise digital solutions since 2010.
Tony Pederson has been in Information Technology for over 10 years, delivering various solutions concentrating on user experience using cloud platforms. He has been building, architecting, and overseeing mobile solutions for customers in many different industries for almost 4 years.
People usually associate mobile apps with consumers, but in what ways are companies in the Business-to-Business space using mobile apps?
TP: We’ve seen a broad range of uses for mobile — from smaller apps to improve one specific function to full apps to replace a user’s laptop. Two common use cases we see quite a bit with unique twists are to aid Field Sales:
- Field Sales Guided Enablement: Gives the users a CRM geared specifically to the organization’s specialized sales cycle.
- Content Delivery with Closed Loop Marketing: This application allows a user to share content (e.g., PDFs, videos, etc.) with users, automatically deliver that content via email, and track what was viewed in the backend CRM.
GB: If you turn the lens inward for B2B and B2E apps, I’d argue it’s an even more exciting space than B2C, as companies are still ramping up — albeit quickly — and finding new ways to innovate on mobile. In consumer goods and retail, we’re seeing savvy CPG companies elevate what their merchandisers can do in store by putting modern mobile apps in their hands. A smart retail execution app can deliver insights that a merchandiser can use to help educate (and upsell) a retail store manager, and can be used to collect more accurate, real-time data. We’ve also helped companies across industries develop event-based apps (for visits to an executive briefing center, for example), which include everything from agendas to advice on where to get a good burger in town.
Lastly, I think we’ll see an evolution beyond pure “apps” to more of a digitally connected system that leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) to gain additional insights into business productivity. Mobile apps will be an integral part of that system, but the solution will encompass multiple items. We’re currently helping a customer track all of their assets via RFID tags and readers on their maintenance trucks. This data is then collected, processed, and mapped to produce real-time reports. They have a mobile app as part of the digital ecosystem which is used for work order management and routing.
What advice do you have for companies thinking about creating a mobile app for their business customers?
TP: Don’t take the technology decision lightly. Many people hear about hybrid applications working on multiple platforms and decide that it passes the litmus test. I’ve seen customers go that route and realize that the experience isn’t what they were hoping for, and then go back and build 2 separate native apps. There are many technologies to choose from and my recommendation is always dependant on the user personas, expectations, use cases, and support constraints.
GB: Don’t assume that because it’s an internal app that you can slack on user experience! I’ve seen companies with beautiful, consumer-facing apps in the App Store have a bare-bones, utilitarian app (with poor usability) for their employees and business partners. The bar for usability shouldn’t be lowered when the audience is internal rather than external.
I’d also strongly recommend establishing a mobile governance model and process. I’ve seen way too many instances of “random acts of mobility” within companies, where a division or group might create some small app on the side. Platform, supported devices, integration, security, distribution — it’s important that all of these are standardized and monitored for every app a company produces. It’s far more work to rein this in after the fact than to set it up properly early in the process of creating B2B and B2E apps.