Why 10-Second Mobile Apps Drive Momentum

Published on: July 30, 2012

We’ve all heard the term “killer app” before. In the early days of PC-based computing, it was desktop apps like spreadsheets, while Web computing made search essential.

In the early days of mobility, access to corporate email was seen as the killer app, but that’s become table stakes. Today, most companies are driven into mobility for key apps that are above and beyond email. It might be mobile access to the sales pipeline from a customer relationship management system, or perhaps a travel & expense reporting app.

The quest for the killer app continues in this new era of mobility. The trouble is, when an organization focuses on one app as the driver of its mobility strategy, it is missing out on the full potential of mobility as well as leveraging an enterprise mobility platform.

Instead of aiming for one killer app, most companies are better served by pursuing a mix of complex apps along with simpler, highly focused apps. Think of the shorter, quick-turnaround applications as “10-second” apps.

Like the name implies, a 10-second app doesn’t take much time to navigate. One or two swipes and an input, and users can achieve the intended result. These 10-second apps are usually focused on relatively simple transactions or workflows, but have the potential to save significant time and money, generating a quick ROI. Examples might include a vacation request app, a procurement app or a travel & expense app that focuses on corporate travel approvals.

One company I know of wrote a simple mobile app for self-approval of flight arrangements that stayed under a certain dollar limit. Before, corporate flight arrangements required supervisor approval and, if managers did not approve them fast enough, the delays involved often resulted in costlier flights or travel inconveniences. The solution; a 10-second mobile app that was not complex, or even a full-blown expense reporting app, but it netted a payoff.

The opposite of a 10-second app would be a more complex “composite” app that draws together data or business processes from multiple back-end systems, business intelligence systems, or even third-party sources of information such as news feeds or stock market results. Composite apps can deliver value, but they typically take a bit more time to develop.

The productivity payoffs from mobile apps are there for the taking. With mobile CRM, Nucleus Research found an average productivity bump of 14.6 percent, and a survey from Aberdeen found that with mobile expense management, nearly 40 percent of companies lowered expense processing costs, while 22 percent enjoyed a higher rate of compliance with T&E policies.

As someone who interfaces regularly with customers on their mobility strategies and services needs, the best approach typically involves a mix of 10-second apps and a few complex ones. The short, sweeter apps can generate momentum for your mobile initiatives while the more complex apps get built, adopted and refined over time.

Both IT and business leaders should devise a list of potential 10-second apps that would be quick wins for the company. Be creative. A good 10-second app can look beyond the employee-to-enterprise relationship. Simple solutions with a consumer twist such as credit card readers for iPhones are out there and flourishing.

The initial push into mobility might have been single-app focused, often driven by the needs of a key enterprise function such as sales or service. That business focus is great, but your mobile app plans, just like your other enterprise apps, will benefit from a more rigorous portfolio planning process that mixes bigger apps with some quick wins.

What’s your opinion about building a 10-second app?

T.L. Neff is executive vice president of Global Client Services for Verivo Software.