Going Mobile With Your Business

Author: Ray Hunter

How to get your business up to snuff with the latest technology!

As Pete Townshend said, “Goin’ mobile…Keep me movin…Mobile, mobile, mobile yeah’”. Pete sure was a head of his time with those lyrics.
Let me ask, where do you feel you are at with mobile technology? Is it a technology that keeps you movin’ or is your business lacking mobile traction?
As you think about those two questions, I wanted to outline a few key areas where you can focus to help your business take advantage of the latest mobile technology.
Going Mobile with your business

Know your users and their habits

As I have worked with many different companies to help them with their mobile development strategy, I share this every time we have a discussion. Knowing your users and their habits are key data points that must be reviewed to determine where and how to implement mobile solutions in your business.
Recently, I had a great conversation with a potential client about creating a couple mobile applications for their business. They have had steady growth and heard that going mobile is a must. We sat down over lunch and had a discussion about his current user base and how those users are interacting with his current website. In our discussion, there were only about 3% to 5% users accessing his site with mobile devices and the majority of them were tablets running iOS. From just that simple amount of data, we determined that Android at this time was not a high priority and perhaps even a mobile application at this time is not in huge demand.  My recommendation was to follow what the data is telling about users and their habits. It would be advantages to look at making their website mobile responsive first, before heading down the path to get a mobile application completed.
What is your data saying about your users and their habits?
It is important to have analytical data about your product and/or website and how it is being used. If you do not have this type of data, I recommend gathering this data before moving forward with an mobile implementation. Allow the data to help direct and guide where to implement the latest mobile technology.

Understand Mobile Technologies

It is imperative that we have some understanding of the current mobile technologies that are available. There is so much talk in the industry about different tools and technologies that it becomes overwhelming. Take the time to research key elements in mobile technology and understand the differences between them.
I want to list 4 key elements that I talk about with every client as we discuss how they can go mobile. By understanding the elements, it can help save time and money as you implement your mobile development strategy.
4 key elements in mobile application development:

  • Native Application Development – Native applications are written with the platform specific languages, APIs and development tools. These applications usually use the most recent software development kits (SDKs) and perform the best. Each platform will use its own language and development tools.
  • HTML5 Application Development –  HTML5 applications are written using standard web technologies like HTML5 and Javascript. Responsive design falls under this type of application development. These applications have limitations with regards to utilizing all the capabilities that the device has to offer. For example, it is hard to work with many of the APIs that are available, like access the camera and working with the recording APIs.
  • Hybrid Application Development – allow developers to use HTML5 and Javascript technologies and deploy them on the device with a “native wrapper” around the application. This does allow the device to access some of the native features like the camera and gps location. This allows the developer to write an application with web technologies and have it look and behave similar to a native application.
  • Mobile Application Development Platforms – There are companies that create development platforms that generate mobile applications that might be one of the types above. There are many different platforms and tools that can be used. Here are a couple: Xamarin, Appcelerator (Titanium), Apache Cordova, and Adobe PhoneGap.

Now that we have some understanding about the different mobile application types and mobile development platforms, how might we use this information in helping our business?
So how do we start introducing new mobile technologies and get “going mobile”?

Going Mobile

After analyzing your data you will be able to make the decisions on what type of mobile application and what type of development platform to use. This will also allow you to target the device types that your users are using daily. One thing to mention is that with mobile and its ever changing landscape, it is beneficial to constantly review your data and find out where improvements need to be made. This should be an agile process that allows responsive change to the data on hand. For example, if you decided to go with a hybrid solution and performance is an issue; a new direction might be to introduce a native application and push the boundaries of performance. I worked with a client when this was the case. We had developed a hybrid application and had some serious performance problems with some of the data that was processed on the device. After reviewing performance metrics, analyzing the data and creating a simple prototype, it was clear that a native solution was the key to success.
With all the discussion out there on the different mobile application types, it is imperative to take the time and find the solution that works best for your users and organization.
What might be some of the requirements that you have for your mobile application?
How might the analytics help point you in the right direction with your mobile strategy?
Contact us with mobile development questions you may have. We’d love to hear from you!
Author: Ray Hunter