Home is where the app tells you it is
Smartphones and applications have changed the way we conduct ourselves, and our businesses
The smartphone has become our go-to-guy in a short span of time. Whether somebody's looking up the words terra incognita or finding a coffee shop in their vicinity, smartphone help is only a tap away in most cases. It has become our passport into the cyber world as we strike out at acrid people and thoughts, voice our dissent or approval, share pleasantries with our coteries and tell them where we are. Smartphones are as central to our lives now as air and water.
And that made them an ideal platform for honing businesses. With millions joining the smartphone march every day, businesses and corporations have upped the service ante and brought the world to that thing in your hand through applications, making you feel nothing short of royalty. Like kings and emperors that lived in ages past, a few swipes of a finger are all you need to get what you want served to you.
Enter The Application
In this fast-changing business landscape, mobile apps have become the essential fire-starter. The ease they have provided in accessing clients and pushing forward businesses has revolutionized almost every industry. Business models are now hinged, and in some cases crafted, around the mobile application aspect of the trade. Android or iOS, Google or Apple, marketers are always looking to take the lead through better, more user-friendly and more comprehensive applications that result in a transaction, or at least consumer engagement. Retail giants like Walmart, Sainsbury and Carrefour that have millions of acres of shelf space have not shied away from launching apps that take the business to the consumers.
And startups could not wish for a better means to reach their intended audiences. They no longer need prime shelf space or prominent retail outlets to make sales. As websites brought stores into homes, applications have gone a step further and brought online stores into the palms of consumers. Buying can be done anywhere and anytime. Monitoring a business is easy and immediate, allowing the forces that be more time to adapt and adjust to oft-changing consumer trends and needs.
The Startup Story
With an average user checking his or her smartphone for up to 200 times a day, your business app could help register your brand with the user.
"An app is a perpetual neon sign you put in the user's range of vision. It helps your brand be visible, and more importantly, be available to the end user at all times. It's an absolute necessity to get the brand into the user's sub-conscious," said Haider Ali Khan, CEO of UAE's leading property portal Bayut.com.
He said the time lag for dissemination of news, new deals, products and offerings had almost been eliminated through features like push notifications, which kept users aware of new developments as soon as they occurred.
"Websites were great because they allowed businesses to save costs by selling in a virtual marketplace, but apps are far superior for their ability to keep the user informed at all times and at all places leading to better prospects of sales," Khan added.
And information dissemination does matter in today's fast-paced world. Getting a promotion to a consumer first almost equals a transaction, and a delay in getting the information across can often amount to lost revenue.
"It's a cut-throat environment," said Zeeshan Ali Khan, CEO and co-founder of Zameen.com, Pakistan's top real estate portal. "Success in today's business environment relies on the power of data and trend analysis and how quickly you can process them. If you have a good deal at hand but cannot get it across to the right person, it's of no use whatsoever. An app lets you do that. It lets you get the information to the right quarters in the shortest possible time.
"Our website was doing great, but it required clients to get a hold of a computer to extract the information they needed. Smartphones and apps have changed the game completely, and our mobile website and apps now bring in a third of our users. Information is available at all times and it is more current, more accessible, more relevant and consequently more usable. The world is literally now at your fingertips," he added.
End users also have similar sentiments. Ejaz, one of Zameen.com's clients based in the eastern city of Lahore, said downloading the app had opened an array of opportunities to him. "It's just so easy now. There's no need to skim through newspapers and classified magazines anymore. I simply type in an area and have with me a list of units available for me to show my clients. Custom searches save me a lot of time and effort and my work has become much more efficient," he said.
Muneeb, a father of two in the federal capital Islamabad, said finding a rental space nowadays was a cakewalk. "There's no need to leave the house for a thorough search anymore. I actually found the house we currently live in while sitting on my living room couch and flicking through the Zameen.com app," he said.
The ‘smart' era has changed the dynamics of our daily lives, our dealings, the way we learn, communicate, order food, hire cabs and make friends; and it is here to stay.
Although many business owners have ‘smartened' up, many still consider it a fad and rely on conventional means of going about things, disregarding the fact that a mobile phone application has become an absolute necessity for the survival of any business in the current landscape.
The ‘smart' world beckons, so smarten up.
Azam Butt is Editor at Bayut.com