‘There's an app for that' became a popular catch-cry earlier this decade, after the rise of cloud technology and the viral spread of the smartphone and other mobile devices sparked an extraordinary rash of activity from developers, all intent on creating the next killer app.
In 2020, there truly is an app available to simplify or automate just about every process or activity one might care to name, from checking the arrival time of a bus to finding love.
The app revolution hasn't only made life simpler for consumers, although they've led the adoption wave. Businesses also stand to benefit significantly from enterprise wide uptake of apps – particularly if integrating them is part of the game plan.
Islands in the (data) stream
The trouble is, all too often it isn't. While businesses, like consumers, are able to choose from a bewildering array of solutions to manage everything from fleet management to boardroom bookings, the apps they implement frequently operate in isolation.
It's common to see organisations running a dozen or more standalone apps, all of which collect and store customer related data. Aggregated and analysed, that data could yield a wealth of insights into customers' purchasing patterns, communication preferences, post-sales behaviour and perceptions of the business. But stuck in the silos that the apps which collect it operate as, it cannot be used to improve organisational processes and practices.
This silo effect is part of the reason why up to 73% of the data collected and created by organisations currently goes unanalysed, according to research by Forrester.
Customer experience counts
Does that matter? In a word, yes. Very much. In today's crowded commercial landscape, customers looking to purchase goods and services are spoilt for choice. Many markets are saturated with similar offerings and customer experience can be the only way businesses are able to differentiate themselves from the opposition.
And the only way companies can consistently create and deliver interactions which meet and exceed customers' expectations for the duration of their relationship is through the use of data.
Aggregating and analysing customer information from multiple sources allows businesses to assemble profiles of the individuals and organisations they deal with, anticipate their needs and develop customised interactions and experiences to address them.
Australian businesses have room to improve on this front. Acquia's Closing the CX Gap: Customer Experience Trends Report 2019 found 54% of customers felt brands were failing to meet their customer experience expectations.
Many apps, one platform
Exploiting data to the full becomes simpler when information from multiple applications is aggregated in a central location.
Companies can achieve this by building an interconnected eco-system of apps, or deploying APIs to turn standalone solutions into an interoperable platform. Indeed, today, businesses use apps for audio and video conferencing, chat, and collaboration and have to deal with multiple vendors and support engines.
Having a solution that has all these applications within one platform simplifies the eco-system and once this has occurred, data analysis tools can be used to process, analyse and visualise data and generate insights which, when actioned, can result in improvements to communication and customer service.
Time to act
It's past time for companies to make this a priority, given the app era has well and truly arrived. Australian businesses do not need convincing of the benefits of adopting these solutions but leveraging them to improve customer experience across the enterprise is another matter. Creating a deeply entwined eco-system of apps is the key to doing so and organisations which focus their efforts in this direction are likely to enjoy considerable competitive advantage as a result.