2014 has been a big year in mobile. Facebook debuted two offshoot apps, Google released Inbox and Apple announced Apple Pay, iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 (not to mention the Apple Watch, due in early 2015).
But tech companies weren’t the only ones to embrace mobile innovation in 2014. Many other industries—including a few that might surprise you—set out to capitalize on the promise of mobility, building both customer- and employee-facing apps that accomplish a wide array of business objectives in a way that web- or PC-based apps simply can’t.
Below we showcase four industries that dove deep into mobile this year, and explain how businesses in any vertical can follow their lead.
Lesson 1: Embrace Cutting-Edge Technology (Before it Goes Mainstream)
Industry: Air Travel
How to Apply it to Your Business: Virgin is experimenting with Google Glass to find ways to uplevel customer service. They have given representatives quick, seamless access to traveler and flight status information so that they can provide fast and friendly service to travelers in a hurry. In the future, wearables could also be used to present boarding passes, verify identity, navigate through airports, access real-time flight updates and pay for goods and services in the airport.
You don’t need to wait for technologies like Google Glass or the Apple Watch to go mainstream before you think about writing apps for them. Could your field service workers be more productive with a smart watch app? Build one. In any industry, taking risks like this is the only way to stay ahead of the curve in today’s fast-moving economy.
Check out other ways the airline industry has put mobile to use.
Lesson 2: Get Competitive by Diversifying Your Data Sources
How to Apply it to Your Business: The sports industry is ahead of the curve when it comes to mobile. Various teams and organizations have used mobile technology to uncover invaluable data that helps enhance every aspect of the game for athletes and fans alike. Instant replays, digital playbooks and the ability to scout upcoming opponents are all possible thanks to mobile.
Moreover, wearables enable pro teams like the Seattle Sounders to track athlete activity, health vitals and sleep patterns. By monitoring this data, coaches help players optimize training and reduce the risk of injuries. In the stadium, mobile apps now offer fans the ability to order food and drinks from their seats, view instant replays, find the least crowded restrooms and locate empty parking spots.
It’s vital for companies to gather data from a variety of sources and instrument them into apps using APIs. This can help them gather actionable insights across industries—and also provide end-users with a better experience.
For example, conference venues or concert halls could employ many of the same mobile features that stadiums have used. And companies in industries where injuries may be a concern, such as factories or construction, could employ some of the techniques that the Sounders have used to prevent physical harm to their players.
As the sports area has shown, mobile isn’t just another channel for business as usual—when it’s done thoughtfully, it reshapes how organizations operate and can deliver immense value.
See more about teams, coaches and stadiums using mobile to stay competitive.
Lesson 3: Go Internal Before You Go External
How to Apply it to Your Business: Mobile apps aren’t just for consumers. While many retailers have developed successful apps geared toward customers and the shopping experience, smart companies are turning to mobile strategy to improve internal operations first. They are using mobile apps to streamline employee training, improve internal communication and simplify staffing processes.
Family Dollar’s “Cash App”, for instance, saves hours of manual paperwork by helping district managers perform store quality audits in seconds. Business efficiency and agility is of the essence in today’s economy, and mobile technology offers a great deal in that realm. Companies of any type can benefit from following the retail industry’s lead. For example, an insurance business could implement an internal app that gives employees easy access to customer profiles for quicker and more seamless claims processing.
Read other ways retailers have seized the mobile opportunity.
Lesson 4: Start Small
How to Apply it to Your Business: Major restaurant chains around the world are already prioritizing mobile, so the pressure is on stragglers to quickly get mobility strategy on the table. With this in mind, BJ’s embraced the minimum viable product (MVP) mindset, an agile approach that involves putting the minimal set of valuable functionality in front of customers as quickly as possible in order to receive and act on real feedback before building the app out further. BJ’s launched an app with only a few (but very powerful) features—advance ordering, payments and the ability to receive “preferred status” on the waitlist—and for a relatively low upfront investment. Early results show customers using the app leave higher tips on average.
Within the foodservice industry and beyond, BJ’s is a useful example to follow for any company, especially those with small budgets or limited development resources. A new mobile banking app, for instance, might start with a few essential features such as account balance, bank transfers and bill pay. In the next iteration, after gathering user feedback, the bank might add check depositing and investing tools.
Learn how other restaurants are serving up mobile to promote customer satisfaction, employee productivity and business success.
With mobile reshaping not only consumer experiences but entire legacy operations, the biggest gains are going to those organizations – regardless of size or industry – that think big, start small, and scale quickly.