Recently I went to a Communicate conference, where the topic for discussion was mobile apps and what is considered best practice for corporate communications: should we continue to use apps for corporate communications or is there a better alternative in the form of responsive technology?
I was treated to presentations from Adobe, Barclays and Nestle amongst others. Following a discussion on the latest trends, companies shared their approach to apps and where they fit in their digital strategies. The following post summarises the major talking points from the day, including some of my own thoughts.
The role of apps
Apps are used to engage with a variety of audiences such as customers, buyers, job seekers, investors and analysts. They can also be used on a situational basis, such as to support a product launch, to reinforce a concept or initiative, and in a crisis scenario. Increasingly, apps are being developed for internal usage.
Arguably, the most successful and most used are those that are customer facing. With these apps there is more potential to create additional revenues, improve processes and increase customer satisfaction. In the case of Barclays, their online banking apps have been successful in offering customers the ability to do their banking on the move, improving the speed of service and reducing the number of people in branches. Meanwhile, in the third world, they are the only point of access to banking for customers.
Building a case for responsive technology
Traditional corporate apps—can we say ‘traditional’ about these already?—typically offer visitors the ability to view a share price, access reports and view the latest news. The question is whether you need an app to achieve this on a mobile device. Do the apps provide a return on investment and are there other channels you could use to deliver the same information?
With the growing range of devices and operating systems on offer, companies will be tempted to move towards a one-size-fits-all responsive solution for their digital communications to save costs and reduce complexity. Unless you develop an app for every operating system, there will always be an audience who is isolated and cut off from your offering, while serving all audiences through the means of apps would be extremely expensive.
Through the development of a responsive template, it’s possible to leverage that template across all devices and operating systems. It also keeps pace with the ever changing technology, whereas apps must be continuously upgraded to meet the demands of new operating system versions. Measuring and promoting is also better through the responsive approach, where analytics and SEO can combine to monitor performance and ensure content is visible.
There is no right or wrong answer. Companies need to evaluate how well they are engaging with their audience and to measure the success of the platforms they are using. While the responsive model reduces cost and complexity, there will always be a strong case for using apps where they can deliver some additional value, increase revenues, reduce costs, streamline processes or lead to reputational enhancements.
Looking ahead, it is likely that companies will use both apps and responsive technology in a coordinated and combined offering, serving and engaging all stakeholders in the process. The balance between the two will depend on the company itself, its industry and the on-going communication demands of its many stakeholders.
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- Should Corporate Communications continue to Go App? - November 7, 2013