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Technology & InternetCan you grow a small business with an app?
There is a huge market for apps for the small and medium sized business (SME) sector, where there is a shortfall in needs business needs being met by mainstream app developers.
At a recent creative networking event, one agency owner was pleased to stand up and say that he had reeled in big name clients with his creative app development. However, another experienced agency owner pointed out that there is a huge market for apps for the small and medium sized business (SME) sector, where there is a shortfall in needs being met.
While bigger companies often regard apps as a loss leader to gain access to a market segment. For example sports club-based apps, give users the illusion of behind the scenes information on the team to hook fans into ticket buying and merchandise.
However, a well-designed app can help a small business to grow, offer enhanced customer service, to showcase their products to an increasingly mobile customer base. Technology is a great equalizer that can level the playing field between small and medium businesses and their much larger competitors.
The size and shape of the app market
This is a fresh and innovative sector where creative boundaries are blurred, people are coming to the app market from a wide range of backgrounds, music, design, publishing and gaming. They are attracted by the low cost of entry and creative potential. They all have a unique set of skills and perspective that they bring along with an expert knowledge of niche sectors that can bring a fresh approach for small business.
The app market may seem huge with thousands of app being released each month but the truth is, like the market for mobile devices, it is in its infancy and will expand at a phenomenal rate over the rest of the decade. Most of the features of mobile technology, tablets, notebooks and phones, have not been tapped into yet. We are yet to see apps reach their full potential.
Lee Carroll, MD of Crosby Associates said: “Use of mobile devices for accessing the Internet is growing at a rapid rate. Manufacturers have shipped more than 472 million smartphones this year alone, that doesn’t include the growing market for tablet devices. Basically Internet use is becoming mobile and businesses need to ensure they maximise the opportunities for their customers to access their services. We are seeing more demand for apps and mobile sites from businesses who understand this.”
Closing the app gap for small business
Crosby Associates have designed a range of apps tailored for individual accountants. The apps, for apple and android, include range of tax tables and tax savings and a contact page so that people can call the practice at the touch of a button or open Google maps to get directions to their nearest office.
The business mileage uses the handset's GPS facility to track movements to calculate the distance travelled. It also grabs the starting address and on Apple iOS it can get the destination address upon arrival, along with the date and time that the journey began.
The expenses section lets the user type up the expense, store it and email it to their accountant when they wish to. There's also an upload facility that allows users to take a photo of a receipt and email it to their accountant.
Businesses who have invested in an app are seeing the benefits, Barron Financial Solutions, who deal with insurance for top sports people commented;
“Our clients are professional sports people who use smartphones on a regular basis, we felt enabling them to access a mobile version of our website direct will improve our communication and engagement with them.”
Small business has embraced mobile technology and recognises its importance, but is frustrated by a lack of apps, they want for apps dedicated to marketing, mobile technologies to make and receive payments, and for CRM (customer relationship management) apps.
Small businesses need developers who understand the challenges they face and can deliver apps to help. And SMEs that want to seize a strategic advantage should consider contracting a developer to design a custom app specific to their needs.