Billion Dollar Apps

Billion Dollar Apps℠: Mobile Will Make You Question Everything You Know About Your Business

December 4, 2012

  • Alex Bratton

The following is an excerpt from Alex Bratton’s upcoming book, Billion Dollar Apps℠.

Earlier today, I helped a team at an electronics manufacturer understand the impact mobile is having on the world. We did some brainstorming about how it applies to their organization and industry.

A little background about their business

Their electronics gear sells at a high price point to a wide range of small businesses and individual professionals.

Historically, the equipment was controlled using buttons and displays on the devices. More recently, wired and wireless remote controls have been created for configuring and using the systems.

These remote controls make it necessary to equip all of their products with custom hardware and specialized electronics. Due to this customization, the functionality stays the same for the life of the product.

Back to the brainstorming

As we discussed how mobility is reshaping the enterprise and reviewed examples of other industries that had already been transformed, they started generating ideas about how mobility, apps, and the cloud could be applied to their products.

They realized custom hardware is expensive and limiting, especially when it doesn’t perform the core function a customer wants from the equipment — it’s just a remote control.

Rather than connecting specialized remote controls to equipment, why not embed Wifi or Bluetooth chips into the equipment and build apps that can talk directly to them? Apps could easily be enhanced with new features as concepts arose and updates easily pushed out to customers.

We ran through apps to configure the electronics, save settings, quickly setup batches of equipment and then to control the gear while in use.

Asking an insane question

And then it happened. That moment when the mental energy has risen to a point of asking that seemingly insane question — what business are we in?

What if we could control and configure all of the equipment a customer might have, not just our own products? We immediately jump into being a critical part of our customer’s success for running their entire operation rather than a component supplier.

Rather than just controlling the equipment, what if we collected information from a process that never had any metrics associated with it and sent it into the cloud?

Would we know when their equipment was in need of repair or replacement parts — before anything broke? What sort of maintenance plans would that allow us to sell as a brand new line of business with recurring revenue?

Can we help our customers extract value from all that information?  What would our customers think if we gave them access to that data to better manage their own businesses?

That’s the sort of thinking that reshapes entire industries and creates new leaders.

Stay tuned for additional excerpts from Billion Dollar Apps℠.