By Hauwa Abubakar
A lot of digital businesses in Africa are faced with many challenges. Apart from funding and poor infrastructure, they also have to deal with creating innovative products and services to meet the demand of their customers.
As though it is not difficult enough keeping up with the speed of innovation and how it can disrupt small businesses, traditional businesses looking to go digital must also deal with identifying when to move from one stage to the other in a digital environment.
Without a doubt, mobile technologies are redefining how we use and access the cyberspace and live our daily lives. Not only is information available at the tip of our fingers, access to it has also become fast and instantaneous. Businesses that move with the tide of innovative trends would agree that mobile technology is the new black gold in this digital era. It is like the engine room or centerpiece of modern day technological inventions and the reason for this is not far-fetched.
Presently, about 91% of the global population own mobile devices, that is almost 4.96 billion of the total 7.49 billion world population. Out of this, 2.68 billion of world population use mobile devices actively for online activities.
So, it may be safe to say, if your business has not gone mobile yet, you need to re-strategize.
However, many businesses have thrived even without attempting to go mobile as a way of diversification. Yet, a business must be able to identify if it needs to go mobile or not, or if it’s ready to go mobile and know when to go mobile. There are no hard and fast rules to launching a new innovative phase for your business but certain guides apply.
Here are our three key factors to note in order to discern if it’s time to go mobile:
Demand exceeds supply
If your business is struggling to meet the demand for your goods and services so much that it could even be losing customers, then it’s time to consider other platforms to operate with. For example, you own a restaurant that is struggling with booking all the customers that throng in every night. Your website is inundated with customers who are getting bounced off and unconfirmed bookings because of high traffic, or your waiters and online customer service reps are swamped with orders that they are beginning to mix them up. You might have to consider developing an app, where customers can do many of these things for themselves wherever they are and whenever they want.
Naturally, when demand exceeds supply, every business needs a new strategy and if innovation is the answer, then, why not? Get that app up and running and give your customers the satisfaction they need.
Understand current trends
Current trends in your business or industry and even the environment your business is located, would help determine if the time is right to go mobile. For instance, are more and more people using mobile devices for almost everything they do daily in the community you are targeting?
Do not make the error of joining the bandwagon to develop a mobile app when your target customers are in a rural community without steady access to the internet or cannot afford smart mobile devices.
Please note that even though internet penetration in Africa has continued to increase, it still records the global least region of internet users, according to the Internet world stats with a 31% penetration rate. This implies that out of the over 1.2 billion population in Africa, only over 388 million people use the Internet.
Understanding the internal and external environments of your business makes you determine if your business needs a mobile application or not. Sometimes the mobile app may not be targeted at the wider customers but for operational purposes, within the organisation.
For instance, you own an online radio station but your reporters still have to travel to the office to file their reports because of one constraint or the other. A mobile app that allows them to produce their audio reports with good quality and file them straight to the portal from anywhere, with minimal hassle could be helpful.
Understand your target customers’ preferences
This is very important. How do you understand what your target customers prefer to access your business with? Some people, may prefer to shop online with a laptop because they can have a better visual appreciation of the goods they want to purchase. You have to understand what device your customers access your business with the most. This can be found with website tracking applications such as Google Analytics. If your analytics show that your customers shop on your site with mobile devices the most, then, it may be time to consider going mobile.
What is the essence?
Mobile apps are designed to enhance user experience on mobile devices. This is especially in the cases where a website is not designed to be mobile friendly. Also, an app is always quicker to launch, when compared to opening a browser and typing in a web address.
There are many reasons why a business would consider that it is time to launch a mobile platform but these are our three main reasons. What other reasons can you think of? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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