Mobile Enterprise Series: Native Mobile Apps

native-apps-enterprise

Hybrid mobile apps have come a long way, but native mobile apps are often seen as the “gold standard” of mobile apps. As actual downloaded software they offer more functionality than the current breed of hybrids.

There are even times when they’re the only practical option for an app. User experience is growing in importance, and native apps definitely deliver in that area. Still, there are limitations to be aware of before investing in native.

What It Means to Be Native

A “native mobile app” is built for a specific platform (Android, iOS, or Blackberry) using that device’s specific programming language. iOS relies on Objective-C or Swift, for example, while Android favors Java and Blackberry uses C++. These apps are downloaded from an app store or another hosting location and live on individual devices.

The Power of Native

Native apps have a lot of advantages over other formats.

Performance

Because they’re written for a specific device, native apps have none of the compromises developers have to make when building hybrid apps. They open faster, handle data-intensive or complex functions well, and generally have superior performance.

Access to device functions

Native apps can potentially access all a device’s functions, whether they’re hardware or other apps. This includes the camera, microphone, flash, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, calendar, alarms, phone book, and any other feature the user allows. They also offer push notifications. With up to a 65% open rate, push notifications are incredibly useful for keeping users engaged with an app. Hybrid apps can reach more device functions than ever, but they have structural limitations when it comes to full access.

Reliability

Offline access is in demand, especially in emerging markets and for business travelers. Since they live on a device, native apps have excellent offline potential. Users can access selected functions outside of a coverage area with the assurance that the app will update once the connection is restored.

Availability

Device specific development means better compatibility, so native apps are less prone to failing. They have a relatively high rate of availability when compared to hybrid or web apps.

User experience

Reliability, speed, and availability combine to create a high quality user experience. Plus, native apps use familiar device conventions that make navigation and trouble-shooting intuitive for fans of the platform.

Found in App Stores

The first hurdle in enticing users to download an app is helping them find it in the first place. When it’s in the app store, it turns up in searches by customers looking for similar apps. Potential users can view ratings and reviews from current users, which has been shown to increase consumer confidence. There’s also the peace of mind inspired by an app’s presence in the App Store since there are quality guidelines imposed by the App Store itself.

Better vendor support

Building an app is a significant investment for companies. Native apps have more assurance of long-term vendor support. They offer platform-specific Software Development Kits (SDK) that make development easier and increase the final quality of the app. Stability like this can be a major draw during a hectic digital transformation process.

Limitations of Native Mobile Apps

If there are so many advantages to native apps, why aren’t all apps native? There are some unavoidable drawbacks to native apps.

Cost

Native apps are more expensive to develop and maintain. They have a longer development cycle that needs a team of platform specialists. Because they only work on a single device, companies that choose native must build a different app for each platform they plan to support. This is potentially a serious problem for creators of enterprise apps.

App Store approval

Being in the App Store reassures users for a reason. The approval process can be complicated, and there’s no guarantee that an app will be accepted at all. While it’s not an everyday problem, changing guidelines can result in last-minute changes to what was a finished app.

Download barrier

Users need to download the app to use it. The average American downloads one or two apps a month, so competition for device space is fierce.

Support issues

When users are working on different devices, app support and customer service become complicated.

When Native is the Best Choice

Despite the higher cost, there are times when only a native app can handle the project at hand.

If connectivity expected to be an issue, few hybrid models can match native offline performance.

Games and other processing-intensive apps need the better performance of native to provide the kind of user experience that keeps retention rates high.

Also, when an app needs to use a lot of specialty hardware features native is the logical choice.

That applies to cross-app interactions (when the app needs to access other apps like calendars, alarms, and contacts) as well.

Native apps translate into performance. Hybrid apps have many useful applications and there are many use cases where the difference in speed is negligible, but it’s important to know when there’s no substitution for native.

Orlando Mobile App Development Company

The final call should be based on recommendations from a reputable mobile developer. A loyal, varied customer base is a strong sign of a good developer.

Concepta, a leader in the Orlando mobile development market, has experience with international lending companies like Service Finance and regional tourism businesses like Kingdom Strollers.

Having a diverse group of satisfied clients demonstrates a sound understanding of technology as well as a commitment to building long-term relationships over making maximum profit on a single project.

At the end of the day each app needs to be taken on a case by case basis.

Consult with a developer, discuss options with stakeholders, and make the decision based on long-term business needs even if that does call for a larger up-front investment.

After all, the cost of building an app that doesn’t work is always higher than investing in a native app.

Trying to decide between a native and hybrid app? Bring your questions to Concepta’s development team. We can provide tailored advice with your specific business goals in mind. Consultations are free, so schedule yours today and take the first step towards a successful release!

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Does Full Stack Mobile Development Exist?

full-stack-mobile-development

Full stack mobile developers were once the unicorns of the software world. They existed but were so rare and hard to find that they may as well have been mythical.

Companies that outsourced their mobile apps to individual developers had widely mixed experiences (rarely good ones).

That isn’t to say that full stack mobile development is impossible, though. It’s highly functional at a company level. Software development agencies have been expanding their capabilities towards building a cohesive stack instead of simply creating a tool or app.

What It Means to Be “Full Stack”

“Full stack developers” have the knowledge and skills to build an entire mobile app, from back-end to middleware to front-end tools. The list of subject areas includes:

  • Hardware (including device utilities)
  • Operating systems
  • Virtualization
  • Hosting
  • Containers
  • Scaling
  • Package Management
  • Server management
  • Programming
  • Security
  • Frontend development
  • Frontend design
  • Requirements gathering
  • Project management
  • Non-technical communication skills

The developer needs to be intimately familiar with a few options at each level to qualify as “full stack”. They also have to be able to build native, hybrid, and mobile web apps.

The knowledge base doesn’t stop there, either. Full stack developers should keep on top of changing trends in application architecture in order to properly guide clients in their choice of tools.

It’s incredibly difficult for one person to do all these things with any degree of skill. Those few talented developers aren’t going to be found without luck or extensive headhunting.

What’s hard for one person, though, is considerably easier for a software development agency.

Many developers within these comprehensive-minded agencies have the knowledge to build an app top to bottom within a narrow range of requirements.

Where there are gaps in their experience, the agencies have room to employ a mix of specialists to provide full coverage.

Why Full Stack Is Coming Back Into The Conversation

In early days everyone was expected to be a full stack developer.

As computing became more complex and involved multiple languages and toolsets, people began specializing in areas like front end, back end, databases, or mobile development.

What changed is the modern tools and resources that have begun to make it possible for individuals to be capable of building an effective mobile app from the ground up again.

  • Programming languages: Languages like Ruby abstract away complex machine details, letting developers build from scratch with less code.
  • Development frameworks & third party libraries: React, Angular, JQuery, PHP, Node.js, and similar tools speed up development while delivering a better quality app.
  • Cloud databases: With simple, guided setup and management, developers don’t need the same level of database construction skills they once did.
  • Expanded support: Most of these tools have forums where developers can reach out for help. This allows them to use tools they’re less familiar with more effectively.

When a single developer builds an app alone, it can be highly cohesive.

They don’t need to make compromises or balance opinions among a team, so programming is cleaner and more straightforward.

On a more pragmatic note, mobile developers are still expensive and highly in demand.

There’s strong motivation for companies to find someone who can “do it all”.

Stumbling Blocks

Despite the appeal of full stack mobile development, there are inevitably trade-offs.

Aiming for more breadth of skills results in a shallower understanding of each.

Full stack developers generally have limited range within a specific topic, limiting their flexibility.

It’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” situation.

Because of this limited toolkit, apps created by individual full stack developers tend to lack innovation and creativity. Their apps all seem very much alike.

There’s also the risk of lower overall quality. Every developer has their idiosyncrasies and blind spots, and they might not catch their own mistakes.

Some trade-offs seem trivial, but in reality, they can break a project.

The biggest culprit is communication. Successful app development involves next-level communication skills, and that’s something that challenges full stack developers who are busy actually building the app.

Communication takes away from that work, so they may skimp on updates or overlook feedback until they’re past the point where it can be easily integrated into the project.

Full Stack Mobile Development in Orlando

The best use for full stack mobile developers is as a force multiplier on a mobile app development team.

Concepta, one of Orlando’s most renowned mobile development companies, has used this tactic successfully on projects for Anago, The Learning Company, and even Disney.

They employ full stack mobile developers to serve as “architects”, using their wide knowledge base to create a more cohesive final product.

Because these developers know every step, they’re able to spot potential issues and gaps in the team’s skill set.

As a bonus they can fill in for other developers as needed. The team can then be smaller without having to take on new developers mid-project.

Strategies like these give Concepta an edge in creating dynamic technology solutions within a client’s time and budgetary guidelines.  

So, does full stack mobile development exist? Yes, but in practice it’s most effectively done at a company level rather than an individual one.

A fast, high-performance mobile presence is key to staying competitive, even for small and medium businesses. Concepta’s experienced developers have created dynamic apps for everyone from educational companies to country singers. Set up your free consultation to find out what we can do for you!

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The Best Mobile Payment Options for E-Commerce

payment-tools-ecommerce

This year, Americans will spend upwards of three and half hours on mobile every day. A significant portion of that time is dedicated to e-commerce with impressive results.

The average smartphone conversion rate is up 64% on desktop, and more than one in four e-commerce transactions in 2018 will be done on mobile.

To win their share of this lucrative market, companies need to provide a range of secure payment options to meet their customers’ needs.

These are the options leading the pack for accepting online payments.

PayPal

PayPal is the largest third party payment provider. It’s moved from its original online-only offering to an innovative “PayPal Here” option in some brick and mortar stores (like Lowe’s).

There are over 87 million active accounts in 203 countries and 24 currencies around the world.

For sellers, PayPal is a low-friction option. It both sends and receives money. No merchant account is needed to set it up. Nearly every shopping cart widget has easy PayPal access.

Its popularity means customers likely already have a PayPal account, but they don’t need one to make a credit card payment. That’s a major draw for security cautious customers. PayPal’s reputation for strong encryption and security boost consumer confidence as well.

Processing fees are below traditional credit card processing companies. Merchants can expect to pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for debit and credit card purchases.

Anything under $10 is charges at 5% + $0.05, though this can be avoided by using PayPal Pro in the US, UK, and Canada. Funds are available soon after being sent, usually appearing in a recipient’s account within minutes.

Some banks do charge fees for receiving PayPal transfers. It’s not common, but it is worth checking. Even if they don’t, PayPal charges higher than average chargeback fees and may hold those funds while settling a dispute with a buyer.

PayPal’s security protocols can be a disadvantage at times. The hypervigilant algorithm may freeze accounts when suspicious behavior is detected.

That’s a boon if the activity was fraudulent, but even if it was the merchant can’t accept payments until the matter is resolved. PayPal users should take full advantage of the platform’s text alerts and respond promptly when messaged about a discrepancy.

Authorize.net

Authorize.net is a well-established online payment gateway serving more than 400,000 merchants. It caters mainly to businesses above the sole-proprietor level.

The reason for this is cost. Authorize.net is one of the pricier online payment options for business, with a $49 setup fee and a monthly gateway fee of $25 on top of transaction fees (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction).

The company charges an additional 1.5% international fee, where “international” means anywhere except Europe, Australia, Canada, and the US. There’s a $25 fee per chargeback, too.

Because Authorize.net uses batch processing, funds take time to hit a merchant’s account after being transferred.

Despite the price, Authorize.net maintains a steady user base thanks to its generous security and accounting features.

Merchants can Quick-sync with QuickBooks, take payments over the phone, set up recurring charges to a regular client, and even accept PayPal. Users have access to a free mobile app for managing their account on the go.

Everything is protected by the Advanced Fraud Detection Suite and Authorize.net’s best in class customer service and support. For companies that need a personal touch, it’s a reliable and attentive platform.

Amazon Payments

Like PayPal, Amazon Payments focuses on being fast and secure. It streamlines the checkout process and allows its customers to use popular Amazon features like A-to-Z Guarantee and 1-Click shipping.

There are over 87 million active accounts in 24 currencies. Amazon has account info stored for 200 million existing subscribers of its other services which gives them a deep pool of potential fast-acquisition users.

Amazon Payments matches PayPal’s 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction fee structure. No monthly fees or minimums are charged using the standard account (as long as less than $1000 is sent per month).

The platform has the lowest international rate when it comes to mainstream options (only 1%) and will waive fees when making charitable donations.

Basic site integration is straightforward. The WooCommerce Pay with the Amazon extension is free to use, and there’s a nice selection of fraud protection and merchant tools.

For increased safety and convenience customers never leave the merchant’s website during the checkout process.

Amazon Payments does feel a little limited compared to PayPal and Authorize.net. It’s only available in the USA, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, India and the United Kingdom.

Amazon Payments handles fewer payment types than its competitors. If more than a payment button is wanted, integrating with existing online stores requires some programming knowledge.

Options Improve Customer Experience

Even merchants who already take credit card payments online through traditional processors should consider accepting one or more of these options as well.

Customers are more likely to make a purchase when they see their preferred platform. Conversely, they abandon their cart if they can’t pay easily and securely. A good rule of thumb is to offer at least three diverse payment options, at least one of which is completely digital.

Orlando Mobile App Development Company

Concepta, one of Orlando’s leading mobile development companies, has more than a decade of experience solving digital problems for customers.

Our client base stretches across very different industries (travel and tourism, education, government, and more), so when it comes to payment options they use a variety of tools.

That gives us a lot of experience with the drawbacks and advantages of the current mobile payment services.

Are you setting up an e-commerce store and wondering which payment options will appeal to your audience? Set up a free consultation with Concepta’s mobile development experts to explore your options!

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How Will AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Affect Your Business?

Accelerated-Mobile-Pages

It’s been more than two years since Google introduced their mobile-friendly ranking algorithm. Designed to capture the trend towards mobile search traffic, the new algorithm caused a seismic shift in website design and SEO practices.

One technology that rose in response to the change is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP is a large step forward in providing simple mobile pages faster.

In addition to the SEO boost, businesses that take advantage of AMP can increase both their engagement and foot traffic.

AMP Basics

Accelerated Mobile Pages, commonly called AMP, is an open source project backed by Google. Its goal is to allow pages to display near-instantly when clicked, eliminating the lag users otherwise experience when waiting on mobile pages to load.

AMP does this by using a simplified code designed with a “mobile first” philosophy to create AMP-compliant versions of existing sites that are cached, then produced on demand..

The AMP structure consists of three components:

  • AMP-HTML: AMP uses a simplified version of HTML with specific tags designed to load more quickly.
  • AMP Cache: The Google AMP Cache stores AMP content and prioritizes it above slower mobile search results.
  • AMP JS: This JavaScript engine uses asynchronous loading so no single part of a page prevents the rest from loading, ensuring HTML pages render faster.

Lightning-fast Load Times

Load times make a huge difference when it comes to holding the public’s attention. 53% of mobile users will abandon a page after 3 seconds if it doesn’t start loading, yet 75% of mobile pages take at least 10 seconds to display.

Between a simplified code, lazy loading, and the cache, AMP pages are incredibly fast. Most AMP pages load in less than a second, compared to the 22 seconds needed for an average web page to load on mobile. Even mobile pages can’t match AMP; they load four times slower.

Business Benefits

AMP pages offer several benefits to businesses, most notably the SEO boost. Google’s algorithm ranks AMP pages very highly. In fact, AMP versions marked by the distinctive lightning bolt icon appear first in search results.

As most C-level executives are keenly aware, SEO can make or break a business.

A business must be noticed in order to have a chance at winning customers, and that means breaking into the top search results for relevant terms.

Appearing in the first five results, which garner 67% of clicks, is ideal. Failing that it’s necessary to hit the first page at least. Only 5% of traffic reaches the second page of results. Creating an AMP page can be a shortcut to the top of the first page.

SEO isn’t the only advantage to AMP pages. Companies can also expect:

Richer engagement

90% of companies see higher clickthrough rates on their AMP pages than their previous mobile sites.

Visitors spend 35% more time on AMP pages, and when they do leave 63% of them will come back at least once within a month. For comparison, typical mobile pages have around a 63% return user rate.

Greater ad revenue

Because they load faster, AMP pages have lower bounce rates than other mobile sites. That means more potential adviews and clicks. Google reported that pages which load within 5 seconds earn twice as much ad revenue as those that take 19 or more seconds.

Increased foot traffic and sales

AMP greatly increases the chances of a business appearing to those looking for local products or services.

This is mainly a benefit for branches of a franchise and small to medium businesses, but it’s a significant competitive edge. 56% of mobile searches have local intent, and 78% of those result in a visit or purchase within 24 hours.

It’s worth noting that failing to optimize for mobile at all is more harmful than just missing out on an advantage. Mobile performance is a huge part of customer experience. 52% of customers lose faith in a company if the mobile site is bad.

Is there a downside to AMP?

There are some disadvantages to using AMP pages. It’s extremely hard to implement even with the new tools that are being developed. The “HTML light” conventions are also very restrictive and block many popular third party tools.

One limitation in particular may be the most concerning for analytics-oriented executives. In order to get the prioritized ranking the AMP pages must be hosted on Google’s AMP Cache servers.

That means direct shares of AMP pages will point back to Google, not the company. Businesses can get around this by including their own links for sharing, but it is something to consider.

Final Assessment

As one of the most renowned mobile app development agencies in Orlando, Concepta’s client list covers everything from national organizations like FEMA to local companies such as Kingdom Strollers.

Such a diverse group of industries has an equally wide variety of challenges, and Concepta needs to be ready to help clients grow sales, improve their processes, and break down any obstacles holding them back from growth.

To meet this challenge, they keep a close eye on new tools that might fit a client’s specific needs.

AMP is something Concepta’s team finds highly effective for those interested in targeting mobile traffic.

There may be some limitations, and it’s not the best tool for every purpose, but it will deliver fast, attractive content fast enough to satisfy mobile users.

Are you having trouble reaching the first page of mobile search results? Set up a free consultation with Concepta’s experienced developers to explore whether an AMP page could be the answer to your mobile problems.

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Top 5 CTO Priorities For 2018

Top 5 CTO Priorities For 2018

The way consumers interact with brands has undergone a major change over the past few years.

Consumers now expect personalized service and rigorous protection of their privacy.

Customer experience is becoming the primary differentiator between brands, so it’s more important than ever to provide a smooth experience.

With that in mind, here are the areas where CTOs need to focus in 2018.

1. Secure Transactions

83% of senior executives in a Cisco security survey were more concerned about digital security now than they were 3 years ago, and for good reason.

Increased global connectivity has created more opportunities for digital theft. The average cost of a single data breach is $3.62 million this year.

By 2019 global data breaches will cause $2.1 trillion in losses.

With expanded personal data sharing due to the growing Internet of Things trend, experts have warned that could rise sharply if transaction security isn’t made a priority.

That means focusing on PCI compliance, using AI-powered fraud detection and antivirus software, and using security-conscious features like SSL.

CTOs also need to resist the urge to take shortcuts on development; many security weaknesses can be traced to poorly-done programming shortcuts.

2. Expanded Payment Options

Technology has created a flood of new payment methods designed to make payments convenient and secure.

Shoppers can check out with PayPal both online and at a growing number of brick and mortar locations.

Phone-based mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay have seen a rise in usage as well.

Consumers are responding favorably: as many as 54% of Americans have used a digital payment method of some kind.

They enjoy the convenience and security offered by using a trusted service instead of carrying around credit cards.

Offering a selection of payment methods helps prevent churn, as well: a fifth of customers fall out of the buying cycle at the checkout because they don’t see a payment option they trust.

3. Multi-channel Presence

Impulse-buying beyond the small-ticket stage is becoming a thing of the past.

Customers generally browse using different devices and platforms before making a purchase.

Because customers trust each other and online influencers more than ads, this could means asking for advice on social media.

Other times it involves checking online reviews, even when shopping in person.

42% of customers read reviews on products using a mobile device while in a physical store.

CTOs can take advantage of this trend by building a strong, consistent multi-channel presence across their website, social media pages, and mobile apps.

Encouraging user-generated content (like reviews and photos) is key. It has two main benefits:

  • Improved customer trust: When a company welcomes and responds to feedback- even criticism- it creates an impression of transparency and reliability.
  • Higher sales: Customers are much more likely to buy after interacting with user-generated content.

4. Enhanced Mobile Experience

Mobile is becoming a huge part of how customers shop. It accounts for a fifth of e-commerce, and the mobile e-sales growth rate is double that of desktop rates (59% vs 17%).

CTOs need to ensure a smooth, reliable shopping and buying experience.

That means skipping complex interfaces for easy-to-navigate menus and optimizing for mobile performance and security.

Another option to consider is a storefront app.

Storefront apps have 40% higher conversion rates than mobile websites.

They offer better performance, too. The improved experience leads to longer shopping sessions and higher customer satisfaction rates.

5. Artificial Intelligence

Customers want customized service, and AI is the tool that will help CTOs provide that service in 2018.

Bring AI into customer-facing technology stack through:

  • Chatbots: 56% of customers would rather resolve an issue through chat than over the phone. Using chatbots, companies can be responsive to customer needs around the clock in the format they prefer.
  • Personalized upsells: AI algorithms review an online shopping cart and suggest related items at the checkout. Intelligent upsells increase a customer’s potential value by 10-30%.
  • Relevant push notifications: Targeted push notifications have four times the response rate of mass notifications.

Are you ready to revamp your company’s digital presence? Concepta can show you how to take advantage of these trends to make 2018 your most profitable year. Contact us for your free consultation!

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How Digital Transformation Is Impacting Small and Medium Businesses

digital transformation impacting SMBs

The digital revolution is disrupting the traditional business model for small and medium businesses (SMBs).

On one hand it makes it possible for them to compete with much larger companies, but on the other the investment required can be daunting.

Before setting out to create a digital strategy, it helps to work through what digital transformation actually means and how that affects SMBs.

Changing the Pace of Business

Digital transformation is just that- a total restructuring of operations to function more efficiently in the digital era.

Its effects reach into every area of business.

Here are a few of the core components involved in a successful transformation:

Mobile presence: SMBs used to be fine with a regular website, but now consumers expect a fast, fluid mobile experience.

This is doubly urgent for small businesses.

40% of all mobile searches are for local businesses, and 88% of people who search for a local business will visit either it or a competitor within 24 hours.

60% won’t visit or recommend a business after having trouble with a poorly designed mobile site.

Optimizing for mobile is obviously important- yet 47% of SMBs still don’t have a mobile-friendly website or app.

Enterprise apps: Enterprise apps rework everyday functions- ordering, reporting, marketing, planning- into streamlined processes that can be managed via user-friendly apps.

They cut down on internal confusion since everyone has the most up-to-date information in the palms of their hands.

Implementing enterprise apps at the operational level eliminate redundant operations, increase efficiency, and improves employee morale.

A study by Adobe found that investing in enterprise apps netted companies a 35% ROI on average.

Chatbots: Chatbots are the answer to a major customer dilemma: how can a company provide twenty-four hour customer service at scale without the expense of hiring and training humans agents?

Natural language processing technology has advanced enough that chatbots can handle the majority of routine customer queries.

Technology experts predict that customers will conduct 85% of their brand interactions without speaking to a human at all!

Automation: Digital revolution creates a lot of work, but fortunately much of it can be automated.

Automation involves creating a list of processes that trigger other actions or processes without needing to check with a human first.

One example would be generating order confirmation emails after a customer completes a purchase online.

Automation can also walk a customer through basic troubleshooting after an error is reported.

It’s often confused with artificial intelligence, though automation uses set rules to complete its tasks instead of analytical reasoning.

AI-powered customer management: There’s a marketing adage that 80% of business comes from 20% of customers.

With artificial intelligence, that’s changing forever.

Intelligent profiles formed by automatic customer classification and segmentation help companies identify their best customers.

These profiles also help provide the kind of personalized experience that keeps customers happy and loyal.

Data science and analytics: In many ways, data science is the cornerstone of digital revolution.

Data has been called the new oil, and for good reason.

Increasing data utilization is one of the fastest ways to grow a company, resulting in lower operating expenses and higher revenue.

For more about data science and its impact on the business world, read our white paper: “How Businesses Can Use Data Science and AI to Gain a Competitive Edge.”

The Looming Threat to SMBs

When unchallenged, large companies who refine their digital strategy can satisfy needs once available only through a SMB.

The traditional advantages of small businesses over corporations are personalized service and an inventory of niche products tailored to their local market.

Techniques like intelligent customer profiling give companies that would ordinarily be too large to customize their offerings the insight to do so.

If SMBs aren’t pushing digital transformation themselves, these large companies could steal their client base and push them out of a local market.

The problem is the investment in time and resources required for traditional digital solutions.

Getting maximum efficiency from daily operations like reporting, inventory, or accounting is easy to do with modern software.

However, the type of programs used by corporations aren’t practical for SMBs.

They’re complicated to operate, needing trained staff to maintain their databases, and the typical SMB will only use a fraction of their capabilities.

To complicate the issue, large-scale software is expensive enough that recouping an investment would take too long to merit the expense.

SMB managers often make do by stretching the capabilities of programs like Excel, but that can cause more problems than it solves.

Analytics software inspires a similar dilemma since the rewards of data science and analytics for SMBs are hard to see.

Unsure how to translate their data into actionable results, owners hesitate to invest the time and money to join the digital revolution.

They worry that the potential damages from project failure are much higher for smaller businesses that can’t absorb losses like huge companies.

The Path to Digital Adoption

Fortunately, software developers are beginning to cater to the digital transformation needs of SMBs.

Solutions aimed at SMBs are more widely available.

Owners no longer have to buy management software meant for global corporations in order to digitize their operational needs.

Instead they can choose software with only the features they will use.

For example, a landscaping company can have a unified dispatch and reporting app built that lets managers assign jobs and receive completion reports.

The app costs less than a solution meant for larger companies and meets the company’s requirements more closely.

Analytics is easier now, too.

Rather than hiring an in-house data science team, SMBs can take advantage of off the shelf enterprise analytics software.

This is a popular option among SMB owners.

Last year SMBs used an average of 4.8 apps to manage their operations, up from 3.8 in 2015.

46% are tracking their social media metrics through analytics programs, and 47% use some level of business intelligence software.

SMBs do run into trouble with premade software that doesn’t quite meet their needs.

Some solve the problem by stringing together a collection of apps that each solve a different problem.

The resulting technological complexity can give the impression that data science is too complicated for SMBs, but there are good alternatives to the “patchwork app” system.

Custom programming on an SMB level is surprisingly affordable.

Instead of using a handful of apps to manage outcall scheduling and reporting, for example, a customized business app could combine those functions in one easy to navigate place.

Cloud technologies are making many of the same analytics favored by large companies available to SMBs, too.

By tracking and predicting customer needs, SMBs can implement smart inventory systems that make the most of limited shelf space.

Targeted marketing is another convenient tool for reducing operating costs.

It lowers the price of customer acquisition while raising the value of individual clients through repeat business.

Speaking of lowering costs, data science can reduce overhead in general.

Artificial intelligence and automation takes tedious or repetitive tasks out of human hands, leaving employees free for more skilled projects.

The boost in efficiency makes up for SMB’s comparatively smaller staffs.

Leveling the Playing Field

In a very real sense, SMBs are better positioned to benefit from digital transformation than large companies.

41% of SMBs feel their size is an advantage when overcoming institutional resistance to adopting new technology.

They have less bureaucracy surrounding the decision to change, and they have more to gain by going digital.

When they do commit to digitization, their efforts have a high success rate.

Three quarters of SMBs feel that gains from investing in data science technology met or exceeded their original expectations.

Despite the challenges, digital strategy should be a priority for SMBs.

It’s a game-changer.

Half of industry leaders believe that technology levels the playing field between small businesses and large corporations.

Digital transformation is the most reliable path to maximizing an SMB’s resources to gain an edge against their bigger competitors.

How has the digital revolution affected your business? For advice on fine-tuning your digital strategy or to explore how to begin, get your free consultation with a Concepta expert today.

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