As we wrap up a solid year for the mobile device market, one particular trend that accelerated with fierce momentum is the adoption of mobile apps within businesses. Yet, rewind back to today and you’ll see businesses continue to use stock apps for their day-to-day communication functions like voice and test, effectively constraining corporate data within an information silo where there is very little wiggle room for growth, security or flexibility. However the forecast is already changing and will even more so in 2014, as more apps targeted to business users are created, allowing them and their customers to communicate instantly, while satisfying enterprise requirements, like security.
With this growing acceptance of mobile device usability in the workplace, the framework of mobile apps will begin to change to integrate into this target marketplace. Business trends such as BYOD, having access to your information at the touch of a button and instantaneous communication will bring about new methods and shortcuts for people to communicate.
Instant voice drives productivity
Phone calls have been in a steady decline for many years now and with good reason. They are interruptive, time consuming and often end with a voice message that falls into an unheard abyss, polluting your voice inbox, which let’s admit, rarely gets checked. In short, phone calls have become extremely inefficient, especially in a business setting where time is money and drawn out phone calls do not fit into the equation. Yet, we cannot forgo all the qualities that voice communication has that is missing in text and email - emotion, intonation and the ability to quickly communicate exactly what is needed.
The ability for people to communicate instantly with voice makes businesses more productive. With a simple press of a button (no dialing and waiting as the phone rings) a person can immediately talk to someone and that recipient can respond instantly. We’ve already seen these capabilities arise in apps this year and I expect that it will continue growing, giving customers the ability to reach a business instantly with voice or vice versa.
Unlocking rich information
Communication data isn’t necessarily isolated to delivering information. Users send messages that contain their customers’ order information, important facts regarding a prospect or other customer related data.
This information needs to be integrated with other systems whether it is CRM, order management or a customer support system. This is relatively easy to do with the right APIs if the data is text based. With voice data it’s a little trickier but no less valuable. I expect that apps will offer more integration in 2014, so that users can easily communicate, while the backend system is simultaneously updated.
Consumerization of communication and BYOD will accelerate
Gone are the days of archaic communication systems with interfaces that required training manuals. Business users expect easy to use, high performance apps like the ones they use outside of work. More and more business users will either be given smartphones for use at work or will be able to use their own.
Additionally, workers need to communicate with their colleagues in the office who may be using a desktop. Applications that work across mobile devices (for example, iOS, Android, Windows Phone), across any carrier or integrate with different user platforms (desktop browsers), will be the ones that provide the most value to businesses. Organizations will no longer need to ask if someone is on the same network or platform. It won’t matter. If you need to communicate with someone in the same city or a different country it should all just work.
Many of these features described above come in the form of business software, however mobile apps have enveloped these features in a way that is faster, cheaper and easier than traditional enterprise software. Business users will be able to choose devices and carriers based on their needs - not based on company lock-in, thus allowing communication services to work independently and just as efficiently. This integration will be key in 2014 and beyond for mobile apps, especially if you care to survive in the midst of growing competition.
Irv Remedios, Head of Product, Voxer
Irv Remedios is Head of Product at Voxer, spearheading the development and launch of the company’s business platform, Voxer for Business. With over 10 years leading Internet and mobile product launches, Irv continues to drive strategy based upon both enterprise and consumer needs. Before joining Voxer, Irv served as the Vice President of Product at Mr. Number (acquired by WhitePages) where he launched the first integrated messaging and Caller ID app for Android devices. Prior to that he was Vice President of Product at Mozes, Inc. (acquired by ePrize) where he led product strategy and agile development process for its SaaS based mobile marketing platform. Customers included Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Sony. Irv earned an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley and a BASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.
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