November 29, 2016
Up and running: Keeping your apps healthy
By: Michael Hobbs

Do you know how some companies become aware that their mobile app system has crashed? When they see a drop in sales. That’s too late. By that time, the crash has already had significant negative business impact. You want to discover the problem well before that happens.

How can companies keep their apps healthy? How can they keep their app store up and running continuously?

The answer is through improved app management that delivers:

  • Consistent operational service: maximising up-time and the availability of your products to customers.

  • The ability to identify crash cases quickly: resolving issues quickly and finding the cause of a crash in real time, with no need to divert the effort of your development teams prior to the fix.

  • Immediate response to live issues: reducing turnaround time to fix issues and prioritising fixes based on affected users.

  • Capabilities to detect security issues: resolving attacks or breaches quickly whilst minimising damage to the business.

In practice, this means managing apps and mobile products as a unified portfolio within a well-organised mobile team, whilst ensuring that team is closely connected to other areas of the business. This helps ensure you don’t lose customers. It also helps with internal reporting, as apps are becoming critical to access business data for real-time decision making, whether it’s to manage industrial processes, employee collaboration or the customer experience.

It all seems a bit complicated!

Mobile apps are deceptively simple. At their best, they are easy to download, simple and quick to use. Behind the scenes there’s a lot going on and a lot at stake. The important user actions are all calling interfaces to back-end systems; there are security and transmission protocols running and a lot of analytics in the background. The app itself is simply what is seen by the customer. Yes, there is some complexity involved and, when done well, it’s not something that the user is aware of.

It’s also worth getting right. Globally, mobile commerce is growing faster than e-commerce as a whole. This is partly because e-commerce has been around longer, partly because the smartphone is ubiquitous. Smartphone sales may have saturated in Western markets, but m-commerce activity riding on the smartphone base continues to grow strongly. Purchases through apps, rather than browsers, still dominate in leading economies including the United States and China.

The challenge of app management

App management throughout the app lifecycle helps avoid impaired performance that can frustrate users and create a poor user experience. It can also lead to weakened security. Accenture’s most recent Mobility Research report found that mobile app management is a concern to most IT executives. The research found:

  • Half the survey respondents (49 percent) cited security as the greatest challenge faced in managing and developing mobile apps. But just 54 percent indicated they have mobile security solutions that are integrated with existing enterprise security systems.

  • After security, the second biggest challenge cited was performance issues, such as crashing and bugs (37 percent). However, only 45 percent have crash reporting in place.

  • Only 52 percent said their companies have a comprehensive testing program before launch to help ensure apps work reliably and consistently.

In sum, the research found that business leaders clearly need to raise their game in app management to be sure they make the most of their investment.

Raising your game

Accenture emphasises four critical activities to improve mobile app management

  • Crash analytics: choosing the right crash analytics tool and implementing and configuring it properly. Up-time and availability is dependent on the back end, and analytics can help discover issues before they affect customers.

  • Success parameter definition: performing KPI definitions and benchmarking to discover what constitutes a best-in-class maintenance service. Then performing a gap analysis compared to the benchmarks, enabling the creation of a “to-be” set of success parameters.

  • Business process change and transformation: This step involves optimising the handling of issues raised by users, and then prioritising issues effectively. It also includes development and/or training of the call centre, help desk and development team.

  • Bug fixing: assessing your existing support processes and creating a plan for issue reporting, handling, prioritisation and resolution.

Managing a high-performing app is a complex task, but a company that focuses on these areas and continues to fine-tune its mobile presence can maximise its chances of succeeding in the mobile marketplace.

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