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Custom software solutions beget security

While mobility is essential for the modern enterprise, not all apps are created equal. Consumer-grade applications are often available for free and seem innocuous enough, but design flaws or blatant malware bundling can endanger a company’s stability. That third-party email client your employee uses could very well be siphoning information and indiscriminately sending it out across cyberspace. In fact, much of the software used by professionals that are just looking to be more productive is risky and does not meet the standards held by many IT departments.

“In total, businesses are using on average a mammoth 579 cloud apps, of which a worryingly high 88.7 percent are not enterprise ready – failing to meet standards in either security, auditability, or business continuity,” stated CloudTweaks contributor Daniel Price regarding a recent study by Netskope on enterprise app use. “[T]his is a huge problem for IT departments, especially given more than one-third of all policy violations are currently occurring via mobile apps.”

It should be well established by now that mobile devices are not easily removed from the workplace. As such, it will be important to embrace these tools in ways that will allow them to function appropriately. The best way to do this is by investing custom software solutions.

Apps can be dangerous, regardless of function
To further illustrate the point that consumer programs cannot be easily trusted, look no further than flashlight apps. According to ITWorld contributor Melanie Pinola, a recent study found that many flashlight programs for smartphones had unnecessary permissions like location tracking. But flashlights are not alone in this problem.

“The sad truth is it isn’t just flashlight apps but many other types of free and popular apps that have the ability to record our information (and may actually be doing so),” Pinola wrote. “Angry Birds collects your location and your contacts list. ShopKick can turn on audio recording and listen through your phone’s microphone.”

When talking about programs that, say, are used to manipulate sensitive information, users are basically initiating a security breach. But they can’t be faulted for wanting to be more productive. The problem here is that matters are being taken into the hands of employees.

Workers shouldn’t feel as though they need to procure software themselves and risk data loss. This is why custom software development will be so critical. It allows for modern functionality with less chance of trouble.

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Wearables will permanently change the user experience

Think about why great tools have succeeded over the course of history. Assets tend to become popular because they are able to streamline a process or make it more effective. In modern times, we refer to this as “improving the user experience.” In terms of wearable technology, new devices will have to meet this expectation in order to gain popularity. The good news is that they are already more than capable of doing so – and enterprises are going to reap the benefits.

According to TMCnet contributor Clayton Hamshar, a recent study by researchers at GfK shows that enthusiasm for wearables is ramping up. This is thanks primarily to the idea that smartwatches will help to make daily tasks even more convenient than smartphones already have.

“The most support was given, as expected, to the primary functions that consumers have come to expect from ingrained smartphone technology such as making phone calls, navigating, collecting athletic or sports data and running various other apps,” Hamshar stated. “However, GfK proposed more radical ideas such as using smartwatches to carry health information for sharing with doctors and hospitals, send and receive wireless payments, act as a ‘public transit subscription card’ and serve as identification for online accounts or in real life for authorities and the government.”

Recognizing the potential that wearables have is important for modern success. These devices will revolutionize the way that people complete tasks and and go about their daily lives – namely when interacting with businesses. There is a significant opportunity in wearables for improved customer engagement, but it’s only possible if companies can find a way to improve the user experience. One thing is for sure – this won’t be able to happen without custom software development as part of the plan.

Sensors present marketing opportunities
One industry in which wearables will be of particular use is retail. Imagine a person walking through a store with a smartphone and a smartwatch. If they happen to pass a display for dish detergent, the potential customer might end up with a push notification about a sale or other offer for the soap in question. A sensor embedded somewhere close to the detergent detects that a shopper is nearby, prompting a location-based notification on the phone, which is then displayed immediately on the watch. The smartphone alone runs the risk of sitting in the person’s pocket and going unchecked, missing an opportunity for the store to make a sale. But should a smartwatch be in play, the likelihood of engaging the customer drastically increases.

This is the kind of thinking that is going to propel not only the world of retail, but countless other industries as well. The range of possibilities regarding the different components of smartphones available on the market – and their impending connection to wearables.

“Today’s smart mobile devices are packed with many different technologies, including sensors with a wide range of functionalities,” wrote TMCnet contributor Michael Guta. “While most people are aware of the accelerometer and gyroscope in smartphones, depending on the device it can also include a magnetometer, proximity sensor, light sensor, barometer, thermometer, air humidity sensor, pedometer, heart monitor, fingerprint sensor and one particular model in Japan is able to detect harmful radiation.”

This development is actually influencing smartphone manufacturers to make their devices more wearable-friendly. Adding various sensors like the kind Guta mentioned can add intrinsic value to the relationships between smartphones and wearables, but figuring out how these different features can be leveraged in a meaningful way is going to dictate success. Organizations, however, must keep in mind that none of this is going to be possible without custom software solutions at the helm of the initiative.

Importance of apps needs to be underscored
One of the most vital things to remember about wearables is that, while they do have some incredible potential, they are not in the same computing class as smartphones. It is heavily anticipated that smartwatches, glasses and more will not be able to experience their full potential unless they are working in tandem with smartphones and tablets.

This is why it will be so important to invest in custom mobile app development moving forward. Businesses will need software that is intrinsically linked to their mission. It is unlikely that there will be an application designed to meet every conceivable need of a company with a wearables strategy, and even if there was it probably wouldn’t be very effective. There needs to be a brand attached to software that reminds users just how convenient their experience with this organization is. They need to feel like they have a personal assistant with them every step of the way, even if that just means location-based coupon delivery.

Wearables are about to experience an incredible growth. Companies that recognize this early and start planning how to embrace new devices through software are going to stay out ahead of the competition.

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3 industries poised for wearable revolution

The world is just on the brink of accepting wearables. As devices like Apple Watch and Google Glass begin to gain steam and see widespread release, there is significant speculation regarding where the future of these devices will end up. One thing is for sure – even if the consumer sphere is slow to adopt, there are countless industries where this technology is being considered as an agent of change. Much of this comes from how wearables can be leveraged in ways that smartphones cannot.

“Wearables already have a strong incumbent challenger – the smartphone,” stated Hospitality Technology on its website. “For wearable products to take off, they will need to carve out a distinct value proposition. And, because the phone is such a fixture, for the short term, at least, wearable technology will need to seamlessly integrate with our existing technology.”

Wearable technology will change the way that many people live their lives and do business. But besides the devices, custom software solutions will need to be obtained that consider the unique ways wearables can be used. Here are some of the fields in which wearables are already expected to be revolutionary:

1) Retail
Watches and headsets provide a unique opportunity for the customer/business relationship. Smartphones certainly opened up a new channel of engagement in this way, but wearables promise an even greater level of immersion and streamlining.

“Wearable technology … is poised to create an enhanced customer experience – better, more informed service; faster checkout; greater access to deals; and more real-time input into purchasing decisions,” Hospitality Technology stated. “Rather than shopping across multiple channels – at home, on-the-go or in-store – the new consumer experience will be omni-channel, fuelled by wearable devices and comprehensive analytics.”

2) Education
Technology is starting to become a requirement in the classroom. Educational facilities have started to leverage mobile devices in the learning process, and according to TrainingZone contributor Carolyn Lewis, wearables are already speculated to have application in schools. But there are still some potential “stumbling blocks” in terms of widespread adoption.

“The cost of wearable technology will certainly have a major impact on its adoption in schools, but maybe not so much in further and higher education, or workplace learning due to the increased trend in BYOD (bring your own device),” Lewis stated. “Although BYOD policies will need to be reviewed to take into account the security and confidentiality issues that can arise from the use of wearable technology.”

But assuming that initiatives can be put into place to assist less-fortunate schools or BYOD begins to truly take off in education, wearables will undoubtedly have a place there. Google Glass, for example, could be used on field trips to help with self-guided tours. Augmented reality, in these instances, can provide new facts and information right in the line of sight depending on where a student is looking.

3) Healthcare
Fitness monitors have already illustrated how wearables can help with health and wellness. There are, however, expected to be devices other than bands and watches that contain sensors and transmitters. According to SmartData Collective contributor Rick Delgado, a company called MC10 has developed several devices that challenge conventional notions of wearable tech.

“MC10 has been working for almost 10 years to create BioStamp and Checklight,” Delgado stated. “These are tiny, wearable devices that come with wireless capabilities, sensors and a number of other features. In BioStamp’s case, the device isn’t so much worn as it is stuck right on the body. Because of it’s flexibility, it can be worn like a temporary patch, or bandaid.”

Delgado goes on to describe different instances in which these kinds of tools can be of great value. Athletes, for example, can get accurate, real-time vitals sent right to a coach​’s smartphone or tablet. Doctors can get patient information in this exact same way. Monitoring the well-being of newborn babies can also be an easier task when paired with this technology. This kind of thing can help to cut down on actual visits while increasing the amount of care that can be provided.

Custom software development will be a requirement
Wearable tech, by many accounts, will eventually be as common as smartphones and tablets. These tools offer companies and organizations of all kinds a unique chance to improve their daily operations.

“It certainly seems like wearable tech is here to stay,” Delgado wrote. “Manufacturers and users are finding an increasing number of ways to use these devices. Also, with their deeper adoption into our culture comes an adoption into the workplace. There’s a growing list of organizations implementing BYOD security policies because they recognize the importance of using devices employees are familiar with in their day-to-day operations.”

But all of these powerful advantages cannot be unlocked without apps to help drive them. Watches and glasses lack the kind of interface to work alone, and will frequently be an extension of smartphones rather than a replacement for them. Custom mobile app development will be essential for this reason. In terms of customer engagement, there has to be a dedicated program that will connect consumers with the businesses and services they love. This kind of thing will not be possible with pre-packaged solutions or mobile web sites. For those companies planning on embracing wearable technology, proper mobile software will be key.

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Wearable tech adoption depends partially on enterprises

As it stands, wearable technology is not yet a common thing. Many highly-anticipated devices like the Apple Watch and Google Glass have yet to be widely available, and a great deal of people have yet to see what they can do up close. Yet the adoption of the machines that have made it to market is steadily rising, namely among the millennial generation. Millennials, for the most part, understand the potential for mobile devices and are able to imagine instances where it will be of great use.

“Despite the media attention that wearable technology gets, it is still rare to see people walking down the street talking into their smartwatches or wearing Google Glass or the like,” stated TMCnet contributor Matt Paulson. “However, recent sales reports are showing that the rise of wearable devices is starting to grow much more rapidly, and that the new largest market for wearable devices appears to be millennials.”

But even with this young fan club championing its use, wearable tech adoptions are still going to rely heavily on how these devices can improve the user experience. Part of this will come from forward-thinking companies who are willing to experiment with this new channel of engagement. This will include planning for and developing custom software solutions.

Encouraging wearable adoptions takes work
According to Bloomberg Businessweek contributor Belinda Lanks, recent research indicates that many people are open to the idea of wearable tech. This assumes, however, that they are provided with enough reason to use it. A study from PricewaterhouseCoopers indicates that incentives like health monitoring and integration with other devices fit that bill precisely. Industries like medicine and home security stand to gain a lot from pursuing apps that will improve services for their customers.

“Right now, most wearables perform prescribed functions, offering limited data (miles walked, hours slept) through a closed relationship between the device and its supporting app,” wrote Lanks. “The gadgets should be able to connect to the cloud and seamlessly interact with other services. The ubiquitous wearable of the future could monitor your health as well as your home.”

Once people begin to have up close experiences with these benefits, their way of thinking will start to change. The same thing happened with smartphones. What some perceived as a novelty quietly became well-accepted and taken seriously, eventually turning into a part of everyday life for millions of people. It doesn’t take a total understanding of computers and software to recognize that smartphones can be used as a multi-purpose problem-solver in countless situations. This mindset will undoubtedly be the common opinion held of wearables in the coming years.

The millennial influence
One of the biggest drivers for wearable technology adoption will be the younger portion of the professional world. According to Paulson, this has to do with millennials becoming more established in the workplace.

“Ultimately, millennials are now reaching the age where they can be extremely effective on both consumer and business-level markets, and their understandings for how wearable tech can drastically improve healthcare and retail strategies in addition to entertainment options are expected to quickly translate into sales,” Paulson stated.

But this alone will not be the biggest push behind wearable tech. Businesses have to examine how these devices can be used to streamline a customer’s experience. Truly modern organizations will identify these kinds of things early and set the standards by which other companies will adhere to. Without question, the only way to accomplish this will be to invest in custom software development.

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Unfounded wearable tech stigmas no match for obvious benefits in healthcare

For all the modern technology has given the world, there are still some people who believe it is ultimately detrimental. The latest target for naysayers is wearable tech. While there are countless individuals who see the potential for these devices in sectors like healthcare, there are others who see more connected machines as a health risk. Wireless Internet connections and smartphone usage have long been speculated to be a potential cause of cancer, resulting in people seeing wearables as another possible hazard.

But recent research seems to indicate otherwise. According to CloudTweaks contributor Daniel Price, several studies conducted around the world have found no correlation between the rise in connected devices and an increase in cancer rates. In fact, Health Canada found that the radio frequencies used by the public on a daily basis are not dangerous. Wearables in particular commonly operate thanks to Bluetooth – a connection with output so low that it’s not even on the FCC’s radar for potential harm.

There are plenty of non-believers who see irony in the use of wearables for preventive healthcare, but these sentiments are unfounded. The medical community stands to gain a great deal of functionality from the arrival of smartwatches and fitness trackers, but it will require planning and development of custom software solutions in order to start the future of health on the right foot.

Healthcare 2.0
Preventive medicine has never had an asset like wearable tech. While the sensors that help these devices function have not become as common as, say, the smartphone has, they are well on their way. In fact, a recent study from TechnologyAdvice found that 25.1 percent of adults already use fitness-tracking hardware and apps to monitor their health. Of the adults who do not leverage these tools in this way, 48.2 percent said they would start if provided with the proper devices by a doctor. Additionally, 57.1 percent of non-users said that they would be more likely to wear fitness-tracking sensors if it meant that their insurance premiums would go down.

As things like smartwatches with built-in fitness sensors become more common, it stands to reason that the face of healthcare will change forever. Real-time data collection and access means that doctors and patients alike can have a more accurate record of well-being. Many times, people do not realize what condition they are in until it’s too late or seemingly-insurmountable to change. Being able to have important information like this readily available stands to completely revolutionize the way that hospitals, insurance providers and other related facilities operate – assuming that the software is in place to back the machines up.

Custom software development an important consideration
Smartphones wouldn’t be anything without apps. The same will be true of wearables. Even if we’re talking about fitness bands with no actual interface to speak of, all the data they collect has to end up somewhere, and that will most likely be a program launched on another device. As these tools become more popular and sought after, chances are that healthcare facilities will need to invest in organization-specific applications. It’s safe to say that no doctor is going to want to rely solely on whatever Nike packages with their devices. There will need to be more nuanced software that takes the facility and the patient into consideration when optimizing information. Just like in other industries, success in these endeavors will rely on how well the user experience can be augmented, streamlined and ultimately benefited.

There is no need to fear wearable devices. In healthcare, they will need to be fully embraced as the technology becomes more effective and commonplace at the same time. In order to stay out ahead, there will have to be custom mobile app development in play.

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Millennials will bring wearables into the workplace

There have been three major buzzphrases swirling around the enterprise tech world as of late: Millennial workforce, wearable technology and BYOD, or “bring your own device.” While all of these terms are likely to have appeared individual of each other, they are beginning to converge. Wearable tech has been dismissed by many, but those in the millennial generation are growing interested in how these devices can be leveraged to streamline daily tasks. Much in the same way these younger professionals brought their smartphones into the office with them, they will do the same with their watches and headsets.

According to recent research from Gartner, 40 percent of employees currently working for large companies use their own devices in the workplace.

“The lines between work and play are becoming more and more blurred as employees choose to ‘use their own device’ for work purposes whether sanctioned by an employer or not,” said Gartner principle research analyst Amanda Sabia. “Devices that were once bought purely for personal use are increasingly being used for work and technology vendors and service providers need to respond to this.”

In the next couple of years, the breed of those devices will shift dramatically. Smartwatches will undoubtedly begin to show up on the job, namely among millennials. According to ZDNet contributor Rachel King, a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 53 percent of this generation is anticipating the widespread arrival of wearables. Additionally, 40 percent of them alone are interested in the possibilities of smartwatches.

This means that there will be an explosion of opportunities for businesses. Staff members will be showing up to work with another productivity asset that can be leveraged for the good of the company. The user experience will continue to be streamlined as this technology becomes more prevalent. In order for organizations to use these tools to their advantage, custom software solutions will be important to invest in.

Preparing for change
One of the biggest setbacks to the age of mobility comes in the form of an ill-prepared business world. No one was able to predict the impact that smartphones would make – not to mention the complications it would cause. There are still businesses today that are not “mobile-first” in their thinking, as strange as that might seem to some.

This is why it will be important to examine the potential for wearables now before they actually arrive. Chances are strong that smartwatches will have their first big push in the workplace, so they make a good place to start. The question to ask is: Why do people wear smartwatches? What are they generally used for?

It’s increasingly being realized that smartwatches are all about push notifications and making basic functions more convenient. Need information at a moment’s notice and your phone is unavailable? The smartwatch will become the easiest – and most socially acceptable – way to stay updated. It’s small screen will also be perfect for enabling greater accessibility among colleagues. One-touch calling and Bluetooth headsets mean that connections can be made with greater ease. This will be especially important for labor-intensive positions.

This is the kind of functionality that organizations will have to keep in mind. IT will have to consider the new ways in which mobile technology will undoubtedly be used – and be supported in their endeavors.

“New wearable gadgets mean enterprises will need to embolden their IT departments,” stated PricewaterhouseCoopers researchers wrote in their report, according to King. “Aggressive enterprises may task them with developing apps for new systems or entirely new products, but even conservative enterprises will need an IT team to be prepared to integrate emerging technological devices into the company system and adapt accordingly.”

Custom software development will be required
In order for wearables to be the most beneficial to modern organizations, there will need to be investment in software. But existing programs probably fail to consider wearables in a meaningful way. Additionally, pre-packaged solutions don’t understand the intricacies of individual organizations, instead providing generalized assistance. This is not indicative of the kind of user experience that millennials are expecting, and if they feel inhibited at work, their performance is likely to suffer.

To fully embrace wearables and the younger workforce that will adopt them, custom mobile app development will be a major necessity.

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Internet of Things will create new app opportunities

As far as connected devices go, wearable technology has been attracting a lot of attention recently. The appearance of more mobile tools in the workplace means new opportunities for application development. But it doesn’t stop there. Continued connectivity will be possible with the arrival of the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things is a concept that deals with bringing more machines online. Thermostats, for example, can now be controlled by apps on one’s smartphone or tablet.

“The [IoT] is going to hit the world in a big way, but not too many people know what it is all about,” wrote The Guardian contributor Lydia Bradbury. “Jokes about sentient robots aside, this new class of innovation will revolutionize everyday life.”

This presents some incredible potential for connected businesses – being able to harvest data in new ways will help them gain better insight into daily operations and customer satisfaction alike. But in order for this kind of thing to be realized, custom software development will be critical.

Re-thinking apps for the Internet of Things
Programs are going to play a major role in the IoT. But what frame of mind do organizations and developers have to be in to effectively embrace it? According to ITProPortal contributor John Thomas, considerations will need to be made regarding how the IoT can improve the user experience as a whole. If there is an everyday task that can benefit from improved data collection, chances are that there’s an IoT-geared app that can help streamline the process.

“Developers building IoT apps are concerned with connecting to and talking with individual gadgets they are integrating, but there are other areas of interconnection to consider too when building a compelling IoT enabled app; namely, device to gadget, device to cloud, and device to backend,” Thomas stated. “In this way, the device becomes the center of a new topology for connected apps.”

User experience is going to be a key point to consider for the Internet of Things. Businesses stand to gain a significant advantage by identifying issues that can be alleviated by this new breed of connectivity. But in order for true success to be achieved and the user experience to be improved, custom software solutions will need to be designed. Programs have to understand the intricacies of the businesses that use them, meaning that pre-packaged apps aren’t always going to cut it. By investing in tailor-made applications, companies are far more likely to stay ahead.

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Wearable technology bracing for impact

While there’s still plenty of buzz surrounding the latest smartphones, a new kind of mobile device is beginning to take the spotlight. Wearable technology, namely smartwatches and the Google Glass headset, are helping to redefine what mobility is capable of. This is especially true in enterprise environments, where problems and inefficiencies have kept many organizations from realizing their true potential. Research and Markets refers to impending changes as “the Office of the Future.”

“The Office of the Future will witness revolutionary changes with the infusion of intelligent tools like augmented reality, Internet of Things and wearable devices,” Research and Markets stated in a release. “This phenomenal transformation is expected to result in a context-aware and self-aware work environment that enables employees to engage and deliver anywhere and anytime.”

But this idea won’t be a reality without the adoption of wearable technology. As such, organizations around the world need to start considering the arrival of wearables now before they start to appear in offices. More often than not, this will mean adapting or designing entirely new custom software solutions that have wearable tech in mind.

Shipments of wearable expected to skyrocket
In a way, there is considerably more attention surrounding wearables than there was smartphones. No one was prepared for the rapid changes that would accompany these devices. Now that the mobile world has a little more hindsight, people are actively looking out for innovative ways in which to use wearables. This is helping to generate a great deal of excitement.

According to Advertising Specialty Institute, a recent study from analysts at CCS Insight indicates that wearable device sales will mark a 129 percent increase between 2013 and 2014 alone. Further, shipments are expected to reach more than 370 million units by 2018.

This means that even if a company doesn’t have an official wearables strategy, chances are that the devices will still start popping up. If the smartphone has taught us anything, it is that this kind of movement is inevitable. Consumer-grade devices will generally have some sort of application in the workplace, and as such every one of them has to be taken seriously.

Software will be essential
Of course, apps are what help mobile devices to run. The functionality of smartphones and wearables alike depends on the quality of the programs running on them. But trusting consumer applications is unwise, as they are frequently designed without best practices in mind. All organizations must pursue custom software development in order to survive the oncoming wave of wearables.

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Customer-facing apps must be sophisticated, of high quality

Benjamin Robbins, a contributor for The Guardian, believes that companies need to stop wasting time and money on “bad mobile apps.” This is not a rallying cry against mobility as a whole, but rather the strategies that prompt businesses to pursue certain kinds of software over others.

While there are a number of organizations that are enjoying unparalleled success in their mobile endeavors, there are still plenty that have not yet gotten a handle of proper application development. Much of the reason that mobile endeavors aren’t an “automatic win for businesses,” as Robbins puts it, is because companies do not fully understand their audiences. Regardless of a customer’s opinion regarding a specific brand, they can be easily and instantly soured by a lackluster mobile experience.

“If executed without paying due attention to your audience, an app can do your brand more harm than good,” Robbins wrote. “As many as 40 percent of mobile users have said they are dissatisfied with their favorite brands’ apps.”

Businesses need to pursue mobile development, but custom software solutions must take the target audience into consideration. Engagement through smartphones and tablets is essential these days, and if customers are dissatisfied with an organization’s app then they may take their business elsewhere. It will take the simplification of tasks and powerful customer support to stay relevant amidst a sea of competitors.

Retail customers demanding effective mobile programs
Shopping is a task that has moved increasingly online over the years. This occurred first through desktop browsers and eventually graduated to smartphones and tablets. But while mobile retail has become a popular means of doing business, that doesn’t mean that all the apps in this category are inherently effective. If they are designed without the needs of the target demographic in mind, customer-facing applications can easily fail – and even drive business away.

According to a study by Contact Solutions, people are using applications to shop, but are increasingly frustrated by the process. In the organization’s research, Contact Solutions found that 51 percent of consumers will abandon their virtual shopping carts entirely if they run into an issue. What’s worse, 20 percent will exit the app and likely never use it again. This notion represents a countless number of lost sales.

“Many business owners are now asking: where is this gain and return that was promised either by my team, the media, or a vendor? But the problem isn’t the technology: the problem is you,” Robbins stated. “Only when wielded appropriately can any good come of your time and investment in mobile platforms.”

Apps must be considered customer engagement platforms
Mobile software is not an obligatory feature – it is a new channel of connection for businesses and their clientele. Design and development must be treated appropriately in order to ensure customer satisfaction. Consumers need to feel as if a process like shopping is simpler when done through their phones, which is why apps are increasingly chosen over mobile websites for customer engagement. Software is inherently more functional than a scaled-down website and has access to device features like GPS and the camera, meaning that the possibilities are seemingly endless when attempting to benefit clients.

User experience is the most important thing to consider when pursuing custom software solutions. In the instance of retail, shopping must be streamlined on a mobile app. Consumers want to be readily presented with deals and sales that are about to occur through push notifications. Payment information needs to be saved securely to encourage continued use. Cameras should be leveraged to scan barcodes and permit real-time comparison shopping. These are the kinds of conveniences that must be taken into account and will help mobile customer engagement platforms enjoy success.

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Mobile devices present opportunities for engagement

In the grand scheme of things, smartphone penetration as we know it is not all that new. The iPhone, which has been credited with helping to popularize this technology, was unveiled in 2007 – only seven years ago! If the iPhone was a person, it wouldn’t even be out of elementary school yet. In spite of this, smartphone technology has become incredibly sophisticated in a very short amount of time and has helped to redefine modern life.

This is illustrated particularly well by the total number of mobile devices in use today. Research firm GSMA Intelligence has on their website a real-time counter showing exactly how many mobile connections are in currently in existence. While the figure is continuously growing, it is well past 7 billion and indicates that there are now more connected mobile devices in the world today than there are people.

In this business world, this is outstanding news. Smartphones and tablets have become a new channel for customer engagement, providing a one-on-one platform between companies and their clientele. There is a significant opportunity here for enterprises to reach a wider consumer base, but it can only be accomplished by pursuing custom software development for mobile devices.

Personal device use takes up significant time
Regardless of what they are using them for, people are seemingly on their phones all the time. According to ITProPortal, recent research indicates that the average smartphone user checks their smartphone 221 times a day, averaging more than 3 hours of use. This represents time when people are connected to information as well as multiple channels of communication. In this sense, keeping in touch has never been easier – which is a major advantage for businesses.

Being able to provide a custom software solution that connects consumers to an enterprise is a valuable resource. But just having an app is not enough if it does not offer some sort of incentive. People want to feel enabled, or like a common task is being streamlined for them. User experience is key, and if there is no discernable benefit to daily life then success is unlikely to occur.

This is even true on the business side of the equation. Chances are that custom software solutions will have data collecting capabilities, allowing companies to learn more about their patrons every time an app is leveraged. As we’ve already learned, the number of times a mobile program is opened on a daily basis can be staggering and present significant engagement opportunities.

“Imagine having a single view of every customer interaction with your business at your fingertips,” wrote Forbes contributor Celia Brown. “From the time they walk into your stores or office, visit your website, tweet about your products, or reach out to your call center for help- all of these interactions would be available in a single view of your customer.  Now imagine how you can leverage that rich data to create a differentiated and seamless customer experience.”

Customer engagement platforms must be helpful
The whole point of a smartphone is that it’s supposed to make life easier, yet there are still some pretty unhelpful apps out there. If an app is just a rehash of a company website or fails to provide some kind of next-level assistance, then chances are that it will fail. Retailers, for example, need software that will alert their customers to sales automatically and allow them to shop online with greater ease. Healthcare organizations can supply their patients with health-monitoring programs that also upload vitals to the cloud, where doctors can observe them without the need for a scheduled visit. These are examples of how an app can streamline processes and improve customer relationships.

As such, it will be important to keep all this in mind when pursing custom mobile app development. With the number of mobile connections – not to mention the time spent on them – continuing to increase, smartphone software is no longer something done by choice but of necessity. According to TMCnet contributor Casey Houser, this momentum shows no signs of slowing down.

“All signs point to an increasing world population, and an increasing number of connections and smartphone users,” Houser wrote.

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