Building a Business Case for Mobile Apps

There’s no question that mobile technology and wearables are changing the way we work and play.

With up to 80 billion mobile applications downloaded in 2013, according to this story from my colleague Amisha Gandhi, there are cool apps available to meet nearly every need. At SAP’s recent TechEd && d-code in Las Vegas, I learned that creating and distributing cool and user-friendly mobile apps is not always an easy process – but definitely worth the effort if you want run simple and drive competitive advantage.

Mohanned Siddiqui of Newell Rubbermaid, a global marketer of consumer and commercial products, led a session about how his company is building business case momentum to create and distribute mobile apps to customers and employees. He warned the audience that every few months the entire mobility landscape changes, so if you find a true mobile expert at your company, “hold onto them.”

“When we talk about mobile, its kind of fun and people want to do all sorts of different things for the business and customers,” said Siddiqui. “A lot of these ideas sound cool and interesting but the full execution of a mobile app is much more complicated than a cool idea.”

Siddiqui got the mobile ball rolling at Newell Rubbermaid by building a few small apps first to test the waters.

“We learned that if we don’t have a strong business partner behind us, it’s hard to get the usage you’re looking for. It might not be communicated properly or not as cool as initially thought. Identify key business users and partners to help facilitate the apps. From an IT org you build and deliver but is hard to find the users, so it’s imperative to rely on business partners.”

In addition to lining up business partners, Siddiqui said it’s also important to think about distribution early and often.

“Who is your audience who are you building the apps for?” asked Siddiqui. “We have suppliers, employees, customers (retailers) and consumers. Four different groups we can build apps for, all with different requirements.”

Finding a Use Case

Siddiqui doesn’t recommend jumping out of the gate with a complex application –  try something you wont have too many issues with instead.

“Sales is always the de facto,” said Siddiqui. “Sales people are all over the place – at airports, hotels with customers so sales made sense as one of the first areas to build mobile apps.”

As a result, Newell Mobile Sales app was created which employees access through their SAP Portal. They use Google Analytics to track portal usage. Other apps were created to gain different types of competitive advantage.

“Our competition is not just Container Store, it’s carpenters and people who can just go out and buy wood and bypass us,” said Siddiqui. “So our apps need to really mine value for the business. What if you could design a closet in real time and get quotes? That’s what we came up with.”

The “Custom Closets” app enables users to:

  • Draw closets with your touch
  • Provide measurements for closets
  • Add obstructions (such as windows or doors)
  • Add/remove components to a closet in 2D
  • Change color and trim options
  • Provide 3D model of closets with multiple angles

The demo of the aforementioned looked simple and fun to use so it’s not hard to see how this type of app can engage customers and help drive the business forward.

How are you building business case momentum for mobile apps at your company?

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.