By Steve Roatch, CEO of Twentyseven Global
In last week’s blog we discussed B2C (business to consumer) apps trending from native apps toward mobile web apps, the “responsively designed” version of desktop websites. This week, we discuss B2B (business to business) apps trending in the other direction.
While B2C businesses are using responsive design and mobile Web to reach consumers, B2B companies are increasingly using native apps, especially tablet-based apps, to serve their business partners and customers as well as their own mobile workforce.
Photo: stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
B2B apps tend to automate a complex process, provide access to structured or complex data or assist in the capture and use of this data. Consider the following examples:
• A large product manufacturer provides a tablet-based app to building contractors that enables the contractor to select and configure products and provide estimates for the contractor’s customer. Direct benefits include estimates that are quicker and more accurate, opportunity to include minor materials and derivatives such as nails and adhesives and the opportunity to offer more product choices and upsells. Indirect benefits include better insight for the manufacturer into the way their products are being used and how they are priced to the end customer.
• A maintenance contractor provides a tablet-based app to their field service technicians to provide better information on-location. This information includes service history, repair manuals, as-built schematics and other important information that used to only be available at the home office. Benefits include quicker and higher quality repair work, increased service calls and automated dispatch and time management.
• An engineering firm provides a tablet-based app enabling engineers to automate site-surveys. A Site Survey file is built capturing dimensions, pictures, and notes. Previously, engineers had to capture this information on paper in the field and key it into systems back at the office at a later time. The app also includes checklists and other important information that reduces the need for repeat visits to clarify information or discover items forgotten on the initial visit.
• A mortgage company offers a smart-phone and tablet-based app to their in-house and third party appraisers to automate the collection of information and reduce fraud. The app contains checklist for the appraiser to follow in collection of information. Then he or she must take pictures of the property on all four sides to substantiate the appraisal. The mobile device timestamps and geo-codes the picture to prove that the picture was actually taken on location.
In each of these examples it is important to note that the mobile app is only a portion of the solution.
The entire solution also consists of a back end database and typically administrative portals to help in the management of information that supports the process in which the mobile app is involved.