It’s often said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. In the century and a half (almost), since the telephone became a reality, it has developed from being a clunky, static and limited piece of apparatus into being the sleek, mobile and multi-functional device we know today. The rise and rise of smartphones have happened in tandem with the rise and rise of apps. Today there’s probably an app for pretty much everything from games to serious work, there are even apps to help us take care of our health. Apps aren’t just changing our lifestyles, they’re changing the way we do business and companies need to adapt to this new reality if they want to survive. Let’s take a look at three types of apps and the impact they are having.
Social media apps
Much has been written about social media and in particular social media marketing. There are, however, a couple of points about social media apps specifically which are often overlooked. Firstly, the availability of apps allows social media buzz to spread far more quickly. People can simply broadcast their thoughts from wherever they happen to be rather than having to wait to access a computer. Secondly, they tap into markets where people have limited to no access to computers. Even in markets like the UK it is far from a given that everyone has a computer at home and the development of the mobile arena has reduced or even eliminated the need for some people to have access to a computer at all. These two points together mean that social media apps have massive implications for reputation management.
Long gone are the days when speaking to people far away meant being prepared to pay eye-watering phone bills. Companies which traditionally made a lot of money from people looking to keep in touch with family, friends and professional contacts, particularly when traveling, have largely had to concede defeat to the Internet-based messaging apps. Some, such as mobile operators and hotels, have managed to adapt to this new reality by selling the data and/or internet access required to use these apps, instead of making their money from the cost of the calls themselves. A further implication of these apps is that, like the social media apps, they make it possible for word about a company to spread very far and very quickly.
Businesses of all sorts and sizes are catching on to the possibilities offered by being in contact with their (potential) customers wherever they may be. Whether it’s banking apps replacing the need to go to an ATM or branch or apps which allow you to order or buy goods or services directly from your phone or apps which let you know where to find businesses which might be of interest to you and which are near to where you are now, apps are revolutionizing the way businesses interact with their customers. Some of these changes can be controversial, for example, “Uber” has had run-ins with the law and adverse publicity in various countries for various reasons. The reality, however, is that the app genie is now well and truly out of the bottle and businesses need to work out how to use it to make their wishes come true – before their competitors do.