Billion Dollar Apps

Billion Dollar Apps℠: How To Develop A Winning Mobile App Strategy

November 9, 2012

  • Alex Bratton

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

Introduction to mobile app strategy, app selection and identifying the right apps for maximum impact

Mobile apps can have a huge impact on our businesses, but only if we’re building the right apps for the right reasons. Picking the obvious app instead of the right app is a common pitfall of the fast paced world of mobile apps. The wrong app can distract the organization and deliver disappointing results, often raising the question of if mobile is really a passing fad or a fit for the business. Because of the rapid pace of mobile, getting apps right the first time is critical.

There are 5 key steps to achieving Billion Dollar Apps℠ — apps that reinvent industries, propel businesses into the realm of the giants and breath new life into organizations.

It is not about blinky lights. It’s about figuring out how to drive real business and end user value. How do we as organizations understand mobility and embrace it, so we can generate new opportunities and revenue?

1. Articulate the Business Strategy

Your Billion Dollar App℠ strategy starts with with a foundation rooted in your business strategy. There are some simple but extremely important questions that need to be answered:

  • What is the current top level strategy for your business?
  • What key goals are being targeted for the next 12 months?

Summarize these business drivers in 2-3 top level items such as grow topline revenue through sales, grow topline through acquisition, improve bottom line earnings or boost customer retention.

2. Identify Key Workflows

Once you have identified those business drivers, it’s time to take a look at the key workflows in the organization that support them. What are the things that need to occur in the business process for those drivers to be realized?

For example, if we’re talking about revenue growth, what are the workflows for how you sell, close and deliver? You probably need to educate the customer, gather information about their needs, communicate your unique value proposition, identify specific products or services for the customer and then close and book the sale. Each of those workflows requires different information to be at hand and often can involve filling out dreaded paperwork.

3. Find the Issues

Evaluate each workflow to determine what steps have issues that make them less efficient. Look for things that can get in the way of the process and soak up valuable time and resources. For each workflow define any uses of key resources (time, labor or $). Great places to look are where you see the 6 symptoms of sick workflows that mobile apps cure.

Examples of issues typically found in a workflow include:

  • too many key resources consumed (time, labor or $)
  • data in-accuracy
  • data timeliness

4. Identify App Concepts

Map out mobile app concepts to address the issues and what specific user roles are being targeted. Ideal mobile apps address a single workflow in a simple, intuitive manner. Looking at the workflow steps and issues developed earlier, what apps would make sense to assist in the processes? Don’t limit yourself to assuming a single app needs to support the whole workflow — suites of apps that share data may make more sense and be targeted so specific steps of the process.

Who would the user be? There may be multiple versions of the same app for different user roles that have very different data or functionality needs.

Ideally this list will include at least 10 app concepts and no more than 50.

5. Score the Apps

With the app list in hand, it’s time to determine which apps or groups of apps make the most sense by scoring them all against criteria unique to your organization. Create a set of criteria to determine your organization’s mobile app success scores and score the app concepts to determine where to start.

Place the app concepts on a grid and for each criteria score the app from 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest positive score (so a lower cost to implement would score a 5). It often makes sense to score a suite of apps as a single line and compare its impact as a single entity.

Sample criteria to list on the app success score sheet:

  • New revenue potential
  • Cost savings potential
  • Expected time to realize return
  • Cost to implement
  • Time to implement
  • Impact on existing process that will require retraining
  • % of identified workflow issues the app suite addresses
  • Risk to implementing
  • Does a mobile friendly back end or web services exist?
  • How excited will end users be to use the app?

The result of this process will be a prioritized list of apps for the business to move forward with and a solid understanding of what each app will do for the business.

Stay tuned for additional excerpts from Billion Dollar Apps℠.