What types of businesses benefit the most from having their own mobile app?
If a business has online services setup, or is planning to set them up, then mobile apps can enhance the experience. Mobile apps allow users to gain access to services while on the go and can help companies to promote their digital offering as they will get exposure in the app stores. It also has the effect of stickiness on the users’ device once the app has been installed.
Companies that have online services exposed to the public or their own workforce can benefit from mobile apps as they provide a unique user experience on the smartphone they are running. Such online services include general data, e-commerce, user profiles, CRM or booking engines.
What level of man power or equipment is needed for businesses to manage their own mobile application?
The problem with mobile application development is that it requires a different skill-set for each mobile platform. Developing apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone is different for each. Therefore a company would have to get skilled on all of these as well as be aware of the different user experience each smartphone operating system brings.
In most cases, specialised companies such as Prototype Interactive develop, implement, and manage such mobile apps. The point is to have a specialised service provider who focuses on this kind of product/service, allowing the client to focus on its core business. Larger corporations with very strong IT departments may prefer to develop such mobile apps in-house.
Do you think more governments in the Middle East need to look into developing their own applications to simplify processes for citizens?
The UAE Government is leading this trend in the Middle East and countries such as the KSA and Qatar are closely following with all the other countries in the region strongly considering doing so.
Governmental authorities need mobile apps to be more easily accessible and created with the end-user in mind. This also brings a lot of opportunity in regards to cost saving and automation, removing queues, paperwork and speeding up processes.
How do app capabilities vary over different operating systems and devices (tablets/smartphones/laptops)?
Most smartphones are equipped with very similar features in terms of hardware and there is not much difference in capabilities. It really depends on the intent of the application and how it will be accessed by the end user. It is however important to understand that a ‘one fits all’ approach usually doesn’t work when it comes to multi-screen experiences. A desktop app will require a different interface than a tablet or smartphone experience.
What measures are being taken to ensure app security?
If data is exposed to the outside world it’s really about protecting the endpoints of that data. While a lot can be handled at the application level, there is no option but to secure application programming interfaces (APIs) that the app will use at all costs. This is a common mistake companies make when investing into mobile applications, they focus on the app itself, but do not care much about the data and infrastructure behind the app. That’s where the real value and risk lies.
In what ways do you see mobile apps developing in the future in this region?
In 2014 more companies will focus on the mobile web, while mobile apps will be transformed into real useful tools for both consumers and employees.
We also see HTML 5 frameworks getting a boost in the coming years as they make it more attractive for companies to enter the world of apps across multiple screens at a more cost effective rate.