Our friends over at the Memphis Business Journal have published an excellent article, discussing the mobile app landscape. Mobile apps are changing the way business is done and how consumers interact with a brand. If you are thinking about an app for your business contact Speak, and let us help you through the process. Continue reading below to see how brands all across Memphis and the Mid-south are using apps to solidify their consumer base.
From: Memphis Business Journal
Author: Ed Arnold
These days, a business without a website is practically invisible.
Google, rather than the Yellow Pages, has become the de facto way to find information about businesses. And as the face of computing is changing, it may soon be that a business without a mobile app might be equally difficult to find.
Tablets and smartphones, rather than laptop or desktop computers, now make up the majority of computer sales, according to International Data Corp. Along with that, a whole new marketplace for businesses to set up shop, market and stay in contact with customers has opened up.
In Memphis, more than 66 percent of those surveyed in a research report from Obsidian PR and Research Dynamics Inc. said they owned a smartphone; 40 percent said they owned a tablet device.
In this special report, we take a look at some of the Memphis entities that are capitalizing on the mobile app market, from banking to real estate, and how this technology is affecting their respective businesses.
Closing bank branches might have been a sign of weakness just a few years ago, but banking giants PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and SunTrust Banks Inc. are seeing growth by getting rid of branches.PNC says it will save $20 million through the closing of 200 branches. The cost-cutting move is tied to balancing the banking services handled at branches with the lower-cost online and ATM banking.
The moves by the big banks have not gone unnoticed at Metropolitan Bank, the eighth-largest bank in Memphis by deposits, according to the FDIC. The bank operates just two local branches and a mobile branch.
“Mobile banking is the new way many clients are choosing to bank,” says Pam Ware, chief operations and information technology officer with Metropolitan Bank. “Mobile apps, along with other banking technologies we have available, are alleviating the need for large branch or ATM networks.”
Jimmy Sawyers, co-founder and principal of Memphis-based banking technology consultant Sawyers & Jacobs LLC, explains how he advises banks when it comes to mobile technology.
“How many customers in a bank’s drive-through lane on Friday afternoon are there to deposit just one check? I would guess 90 percent,” Sawyers says. “Those customers could snap a picture of that check via the bank’s mobile remote deposit app and save themselves a trip to the bank. That’s real convenience.”
Building a banking app isn’t like designing Angry Birds, however.
Maintaining security and giving customers convenience is a top issue for banks looking to release apps.
“With both of these applications, we wanted to create a user-friendly, simple app that would maintain our dedication to an exceptional client experience,” Ware says. “We also had to address regulatory issues for compliance, as well as mitigate the level of risk associated with such applications for Metropolitan.”
Metropolitan currently has two apps. The Mobile Banking app allows clients to view balances, make transfers and pay bills. For that app, Metropolitan relied on its online banking vendor, First Data, to design it.
The second app is Xpress Deposit, which allows customers to take a picture of the front and back of a check to make a deposit. Metropolitan tapped FIS Global for the app design.
Sawyers says startup costs for mobile banking apps vary by size and complexity but, generally speaking, a bank can expect to spend $5,000 to $20,000 up-front along with a flat monthly fee to the service provider and a fee ranging from $1 to $2 per customer.
Year-to-date, Metropolitan has had 53 percent of online banking log-ins come through mobile devices using a smart phone application. More than 2,000 deposits have been made through the Xpress Deposit application.
HOME SECURITY just a click away
Minimizing costs is only one part of what an app can deliver to businesses, according to Jonathan Frase of Memphis-based home security company Frase Security.“
It offers the ability for us to know whether our customers are using our systems or not,” says Frase.
In the home security business, reducing attrition is an important element in long-term growth, he says.
In January, Frase launched an app that allows users to arm and disarm their alarm systems as well as perform some remote home automation. While Frase sees the app as a valuable addition to his home security service, having a reserved space on a customer’s smartphone offers an almost direct connection.“
If we know someone hasn’t used their system in a month, then our customer service team can make a proactive call to that customer,” says Frase. “The data we get from the app can be very valuable.”
The app will even notify Frase’s home office when a system’s battery gets low.
Frase purchased a ready-made app for security firms that allows for custom components from Virginia-based Alarm.com. The company built a back-end framework that is adapted for various home security and home automation entities nationwide.
Similar to Metropolitan Banks’ app, Alarm.com charges an installation fee and then a regular monthly fee per Frase user.
Frase says the charge hasn’t made a significant dent in his monthly balance sheet.“
We basically try to break even on the app because we feel so strongly that the added stickiness of the product improves the services that our customers get and further develops the relationship between the business and our customers,” says Frase.
Real estate app opens door to customers
Renshaw Property Management owner Bob Renshaw listened to younger members of his staff before launching a mobile app custom-made for his business.“
As we researched, we really didn’t see many entities in our industry, even nationwide, that had utilized apps in any effective way,” Renshaw says. “Once we saw what it could do for the company, we all felt like it was a good idea.”
The app has been downloaded more than 1,500 times and used more than 14,000 times. with a daily average use of 174 times.
Using the mobile device’s built-in GPS, the Renshaw app will reveal all of the company’s more than 900 residential rental properties within a certain distance determined by the user.
It can also sort listings by cost, number of bedrooms and size. It can even give directions to the next property.
It’s a far cry from wandering a choice neighborhood looking for signs.
“The app makes it so easy to find our properties,” says Renshaw. “It’s put us miles ahead of many of our competitors.”
Having the app also adds another tool when selling property owners on Renshaw’s management services, he says.
“When you see the business that it’s brought in for us, the app has already paid for itself several times over, I think,” says Renshaw.
He enlisted Memphis-based developer Prime Notion Technologies for development. Prime Notion has also developed apps for Memorial Park Funeral Home and the Tennessee Golf Association.
Daniel Smith, president and COO of Prime Notion, says his company worked on the Renshaw app for about six months.“
It was an exciting project for us because it was first opportunity to dive into the real estate and property management industry,” says Smith.
An added bonus is that Renshaw’s app could have applications for licensing or selling to other property managers in the future.
App sophistication runs the gamut
The number of bells and whistles included within an app are directly related with development costs.
Trevor Beahm, a technology consultant who specializes in business technology, mobility and cloud computing for Memphis-based masterIT, says businesses have two basic options for app development: a true application that requires updating and development for multiple platforms, or a mobile version of the information from a website.
The choice can significantly increase costs for developers, according to Beahm, who has seen app development range from just a few hundred dollars all the way up to $20,000.
“I wouldn’t be shocked to see app development projects pushing past $50,000 depending on the industry,” says Beahm.
Speak Creative has designed a number of apps for Memphis businesses and nonprofits, including the Memphis Zoo’s app and a Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp.-backed Shelby Fit app. Speak has developed more than twenty apps in the last few years.
Speak also developed the Memphis in May app, which displays maps, stage locations and event schedules during the annual festival.
Also, Speak has created apps that are not “public-facing,” meaning they are specifically for use by company employees rather than customers.
“We’ve built some strictly to equip the sales force,” says Jacob Savage, president and founder of Speak. “They can use the apps to go on-site with customers, move through product selection and the creation of an order so they’re not following the old paper process.”
Savage says those types of apps cut down on sales force errors and help keep salespeople in the field up to date on the latest company offers and plans.
The cost difference for developing a stand-alone app versus using an already developed platform can be well over double, according to Savage.
“Development for apps is very time intensive and therefore it’s costly,” says Savage. “It’s much different than web development, which most businesses have become used to.”
For more information about our App development capabilities please call us at 901-757-5855.