One of the most prominent current trends among enterprise companies is the nearly insatiable demand for enterprise mobile applications. By some reports, 85% of companies have a mobile backlog of between one and 20 applications, with a majority (50%) having a backlog of between 10 and 20 apps.
The reasons for this backlog are myriad, but the demand is there because mobile applications are the way that companies are interacting with all of their stakeholders. The most visible mobile applications for the enterprise are the ones that are directly customer facing, but enterprises are also increasingly mobile applications for their employees and other stakeholders.
As more and more of the interaction with the company, it’s products, services, and operations are transacted through its mobile applications, these same applications are increasingly becoming the face of the company to all its constituents. As a result, the enterprises’ mobile applications are becoming critical to the company’s brand identity, both directly and indirectly.
In research published by OpenMobileMedia.com, companies are using the mobile channel to increase brand identity (44%), increase engagement (58.9%), drive sales in general ( 37.8%), support specific promotions (20%), customer relationship marketing (26.7%), and other (10%).
Companies are very protective of their brand identity because the brand acts as the lens through which customers build a relationship with the company. According to Yuliya Suleymanova, Founder of SULÉY Group, “consumers build a solid emotional association on what a brand means to them, how it makes them feel, what other people may think of them wearing, eating, driving a brand. These emotional associations build brand loyalty and human connection to a brand so consumers begin to treat a brand as an extension of themselves, a friend that they can always rely on.”
Needless to say, companies spend a lot of money and put a lot of effort into building and protecting their brands. For a list of some of the world’s top brands and their brand value check out Forbes rankings. There are, of course, many factors that contribute the company’s brand value. It’s not just your logo or your website, it’s about everything that contributes to how a person builds their identification with the brand, and people are very passionate about that brand identification. Some of the most successful projects I’ve worked on over the years have involved apps that helped companies to build that brand experience by, for example, making it easy to personalize and customize phones with brand imagery. If you doubt people identify with certain brands, just do a Google image search for “brand tattoos.”
As more and more of a person’s interaction with a company happens through a mobile application or as a result of the use of a mobile application by a company’s employees, the mobile applications will have an increasingly profound affect on the company’s brand value, positively or negatively.
Case in point, there had been some high-profile incidents recently when an issue with an enterprise mobile application created some serious public problems for a company. Back in June, United Airlines had eight percent (150) of its morning flights grounded due to what was initially called a problem “with proper dispatching information” and ultimately was found to be a bug in a mobile application used by pilots to download their digital flight plans.
Similarly, back in April, American Airlines had significant flight delays throughout its network when a problem with an iPad application used by pilots to load airport maps caused the app to crash or be unable to load new maps, caused many flights to return to the gate or even prevented them from departing the gate.
It’s quite sobering to think about the tremendous impact of these fairly obscure mobile applications on both the economical level and the brand level. In the first case, there are the immediate costs to the airlines of delayed flights and re-routing or reschedule passengers, but then there are all the rippling waves of indirect costs to the airline, it’s passengers, and multitudinous other business due to missed connections, meetings, hotel reservations, car reservations, meals, entertainment, vacations and on and on and on spreading outward through the economy originating for a problem with one little mobile application. In the second case, there is the brand value problem of all the disgruntled passengers unloading on the airlines through social media and the news damaging all the effort these companies have made to build their brand by providing customers with a good experience severely tarnished by a mobile application that was completely invisible to the customers themselves.
Can it be any clearer that just having mobile applications to help run your business is not enough? As shown by the data cited earlier, companies are spending incredible amounts of time, money, and effort to build their brands. You also have to make sure that those mobile applications perform flawlessly or at least that you can quickly identify and resolve issues quickly before they become big problems for your customers, your employees, and your partners or else you will could have big costs and negative brand effects as a result of poorly performing applications. Otherwise, all of that investment in the brand can be wasted as a result of one bad incident.
To ensure the excellent performance of your mobile applications, you need to have a strategy and systems in place to monitor and manage their performance.