The question is simple enough but the answer is not the same to all people. You see, mobiles and tablets that for the last few years have been designed to run 3rd party software downloaded by the user. These have been colloquially called "apps" for some time which as you guessed it is short for applications. But applications and apps have enormous possibilities outside of the mobile native environment that we have come to associate the term with.
When we talk about apps here at Fast Fwd, we usually mean web apps, hosted software that can be accessed from any computer anywhere in the world. These apps are particularly powerful in business where you often have a highly mobile workforce either working on site or at various satellite locations globally. Such software can enable a mobile team to have their daily tasks updated and and facilitate their access information that enables them to better accomplish their assignment.
As an example, a field service engineer for an electrical appliance company may have a mobile device like an iPad which has a scheduling and job information app. This app can have its content controlled from a web app that one of the administrators/team leader back at the office uses to assign tasks for the day. This app can notify the engineer of a critical situation near him that needs urgent response. He can get there quickly and also have up to date information about the incident fed to his iPad. The engineer can also take photographs on site that can be seen back at the office and he can be given live advice on how best to respond to the incident to prevent potential exacerbation.
Simplistic as it may be, the above illustrates a genuinely everyday opportunity where two different types of apps are used in conjunction to fulfil an important business function.
Recently we have been working with a fast-food giant on an employee information portal. This is another combination web and mobile app that enables a company with 20, 000 UK employees at 500 locations to have up to date information about their rotas, their pay information, marketing tips and special offers promotions. The logistics of communicating with such a vast workforce via traditional means is very expensive. One example of how the app saves money is payslips. Via this app, employees can view and download their payslips from the site rather than having them mailed to them monthly. this alone saves the company the price of 20,000 2nd class stamps every month. This saving however is outweighed by the massive improvement in performance expected from an employee base who is better managed and motivated through timely, more compelling internal communications. Studies have proven that lack of training and poor understanding of their roles and impact is a leading cause of worker apathy. This suite of applications seeks to resolve this issue and more.
What we encourage our clients to do, is rather than focus on technologies themselves and trying to find ways to use them, it is better to get a good understanding of the technologies and bring them to bare when genuine business opportunities arise. Used in this way, they can be so much better implemented, offering far better value to the company as part of a holistic technology suite rather than an innovative but ineffective sideshow. To implement this, start to look at the problems that present themselves at work in a different way. When you think, wouldn't it be great if I could do X,Y or Z, give your favourite web developers a call and ask them for some ideas. They will usually be happy to present a couple of solutions and put together a ballpark price.
The solution to that annoying problem may be just a phone call away!