Choice of Channel for mobile application development and launch
With the rapid growth of mobility channels, developers and enterprises are faced with the challenge and choice of catering to all the channels. However catering to all channels in one go is not the right approach. We explore the ways to select the channel for mobile application development and roll out based on various parameters including the business angle.
Firstly let us define "channel" in the context of mobile application. Channel can be defined in following (and more) ways
i. Channel can be various technologies available like Android, Black Berry, iOS, Window Phone.
ii. Channel can be the end device on which the application is being run, like a mobile phone, a laptop (yes laptop is a mobile device!), a tablet or a custom built device (tough devices from vendors like Motorola etc.).
iii. Channel can be defined in the context of type of application like native application, browser based application or even hybrid application.
Whichever way the classification is, one has to give due diligence while selecting the appropriate channel for the mobile application.
Selection of channel can be looked form various angles:
• Enterprise mobility strategy
• Usage or the type of application
• Market/competition/Industry trends
• Technology (or platform) Eg. Android, iOS, Windows Phone, SMS, USSD, iPTV etc
Let us explore the above one by one.
Enterprise Mobility Strategy: The mobile application is a result or a by-product of enterprise mobility strategy. Hence the first aspect to look for is, to align it with the enterprise mobility strategy. For example, if an enterprise is launching application for its employees and its strategy is to provide handsets as well (which in most cases limited to certain channels), applications should target only those channels.
Usage or type of application: In mobile applications single most important factor (even above the functionality) is the usage by the end user. Hence this factor must be considered while selecting the channel. Let us consider an example, a CRM mobile application is fairly complex even on a mobile device; and many fields and functionalities are essential even while on the go. Trying to fit this into a smaller device will definitely hit the usability. Instead the application can be targeted for Tablets or bigger screen size phones (Phablets) only.
Market/completion/Industry trends: First two aspects above deal with internal dynamics of the enterprise. Enterprise has to consider the external aspects also. External aspects are influenced by market, competition, industry standards and the technology. Usually these parameters are of importance in the consumer applications. Consider a bank developing a mobile banking application. It has to consider the market dynamics like what is the market trend in terms of channels (mobile/kiosks/ATMs etc), It has to consider what are the areas its competitors are active in (or not active as the case may be).
Technology (or platforms): This is somewhat related to enterprise strategy for the targeted market of the application. Certain channels are better suited for certain technology. For example Black berry has proven security credentials in the market. So an application that needs higher security BlackBerry is one of the options. Similarly a closed and controlled environment may mean iOS as an option. Also simple applications could go on push notifications or SMS or USSD without the need of complex smartphone applications.
Another dimension for channel selection could be the distribution model for the application. Certain channels like Apple market place(iTunes) have stringent measures for an application to meet to their standards, which may not be possible in all scenarios. Hence those channels may have to be ruled out or other distribution models to be thought of.
Channel selection challenge is generally faced due to the constraint the enterprise has. Constraint may be the resources or the time to market etc. So, optimal approach would be to go in a phased manner, i.e. Launch the application in one (or few channels) and then expand to other channels. In such scenarios enterprise is faced with the challenge of skill set to launch application in multiple platforms/channels. In such scenarios best option will be to go with the Mobile Application Development Platforms (MADP). Mobile Application Development Platforms help enterprises develop applications in a channel/platform and with minimal effort same can be deployed on other channels/platforms.
Selecting a channel for a mobile application is a strategic decision based on various internal/external factors. In the rapidly expanding and dynamic domain this is a trick decision to make and one size suits all approach may not work. Hence one should use the mixed and phased approach for publishing mobile applications across various channels. MADP is the solution one should look forward to when phased approach is used as it would help in reducing the time to market and the application development cost leading to competitive advantage for the enterprise.