Mobile apps: what's next?

Jun 14, 2017
  • IT
  • sales, marketing and service
  • automotive
  • chemicals

We all have our favorite apps that we feel we couldn’t live without. And then there are dozens of other apps we once installed but rarely use. Apps are evolving and so, the future of apps looks bright.

The evolution towards progressive web applications (PWAs) is already underway and there are plenty of good reasons to start discovering them today. PWAs allow developers to build a mobile website that performs super-fast and behaves just like an app.

This means that apps are on course to become even more useful than they are today. Not only will they deliver data to users more proactively, but they will also make much smarter use of the device’s features. These next-gen apps already offer huge opportunities to those companies who are willing to start exploring the benefits right now.

Apps reaching out

The days when data was locked away in the back end and hard to present to business users are almost behind us. The next generation of apps will be smarter and more contextual than ever before. Users will no longer have to go to their apps; instead, the apps will come to them, based on the contextual data they gather and on analytics and machine learning skills that enable them to make proactive suggestions. Also, rather than offering functionality on their own, apps will increasingly interact with sensors and beacons to become even more relevant. These intelligent apps thrive on the advent of big data and analytics and will emerge in our B2B environments much sooner than we may expect.

Great potential both for B2B and B2C

Consumers are already getting used to these next-generation apps, e.g. the Nest smart thermostat or the Push for Pizza app. Although the adoption of smart apps will move faster in B2C than in B2B, their potential added value in B2B is equally high. What could they offer your company? In a production environment, an app could inform people when they enter a zone where safety gear is required. Or an app could determine, based on Wi-Fi and smartphone data, when to automatically turn off the lights in an office building. Or apps could replace the current systems for registering time and attendance. In all of these examples, apps could really increase efficiency by making intelligent use of data.

More advancements thanks to augmented reality and bots

And there are more advancements coming our way. Apple recently unveiled its ARKit augmented reality tool, allowing app makers to draw on detailed camera and sensor data to map digital objects into 3D spaces. Besides augmented reality, artificial intelligence is also on the verge of breaking through on a larger scale as companies increasingly evaluate the potential benefits of bots. Bots, or chatbots, are designed to answer questions, to perform searches and to interact with people in a very simple way. Within the context of 24/7 automated helpdesks, their potential is huge.

Find your company’s sweet spot for next-gen apps

But what about privacy? Won’t these intelligent apps clash with data privacy laws? That is indeed a very legitimate concern that should be taken into account for every individual use case. Today, security may be a preoccupation that discourages organizations from investing in such next-generation apps but I’m convinced that it will only be a matter of time before these issues are resolved.

The same goes for the ROI of such apps. Before getting into developing, companies should start by defining which decisions can be improved or which processes can be streamlined making smart use of apps. After all, why should you bother collecting all this transactional, social, mobile and IoT data if you won’t do anything with it? Take it step by step, but don’t wait too long!

Author: Nick Thienpondt. You can follow Nick on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn