Application Development Blog

Can custom web applications improve your business?

Published: 2014-03-03

Applications (apps) are everywhere these days, from desktop computers, through tablets to phones and, most recently, watches. In the personal world they can help us monitor our home, schedule our entertainment, find bargains, communicate with friends and even meet that special someone. In business, productivity apps like document editors, spreadsheets, email and calendars all have mobile versions. But what if there was an app for your business? An app that that allowed you to put in and get out the data that you wanted. Could a custom app help you be more competitive?

As business owners we know it takes more than a good idea to be a success in business. It takes a whole business process to deliver the concept to the market and maximize customer engagement. The life-blood of a business processes is information, and the key to a successful business is getting the right information to the right people at the right time. This allows everyone involved, including customers, to make the best decisions possible.

First lets look at what a "custom web application" is. The term "web" implies two things: the application runs in a browser and runs over the internet. While both of these assertions are usually true, there are exceptions. The application may run in "native" mode on a mobile device. It also may run on an internal company network, rather than over the internet.

This brings us to the next term, "application". What is the difference between a web site and a web application? A web application is the interactive entry and/or retrieval of dynamic data over the web. Today most web sites have both "static" content and some interactive applications to provide specific services. Here are some examples:

While the word custom is self evident, here is how it applies to web applications. There are many application packages available on the web like Google Business Apps that provide word processing, email and file storage tools. These tools are the same from one company/customer to the next, and while they do improve productivity (over not using a tool) they do not in general provide a competitive advantage over other companies. When we refer to custom web apps, we are talking about calculations, inputs, outputs and processes unique to your business that can give you efficiency or a competitive advantage over the competition.

Types of Business Applications Business applications can be internal and/or customer facing. The specific rules depend on you business model. For example inventory management has traditionally been internal. Today many retailers provide public web access to pricing and inventory by store. As mentioned on-line retailers allow sellers to enter and manage inventory on-line.

Here are 2 simple questions to help determine if a custom business app might help you business:

1. Is there information that would help improve business decisions if you could access it?

Here are some more specific questions to get you started:

2. Can the people who need your company data access it when and where they need it?

Here are some more specific questions to start the discussion. Consider everyone from the President to the customers.

Assuming that you have identified a need, the next step is doing a cost/benefit analysis. We will leave the benefit analysis to you and we will provide some cost information in our next blog.

Tags: application, custom, web

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