A 2022 McKinsey survey suggests that most companies only see about 30% of the impact they expected from investments in digital transformation.
90% of C-level executives surveyed said their organization pursued at least one digital transformation initiative at scale in the previous two years. Yet only a fraction of them were able to take all steps required to see their project through and reap the benefits. The needed actions included developing proprietary apps, data management, and analytics tools rather than investing in off-the-shelf solutions that weren’t always a 100% fit.
This makes developing standalone mobile apps one of the drivers of successful digital transformation.
However, as we've seen at Techstack, many companies find it hard to get their plans right the first time. In this article, we'll share our advice for choosing the right type of app and navigating the different mobile development frameworks. Based on our experience in software development, we'll also describe some industry trends driving successful digital transformation.
In fact, let's start there.
Mobile App Development Trends and Their Role in Digital Transformation
First of all, let’s state what we mean by digitally transforming a business.
Digital transformation is the process of implementing new tech to automate routine tasks, increase staff motivation and productivity, and provide a better customer experience through your products and services.
The ultimate goal is to save money and increase revenue by optimizing business operations.
The final result of a successful digital transformation is increased business agility, the efficiency of operations, and the ability to adapt to ever-changing market conditions while providing a positive customer experience. Naturally, cultural transformation is essential, but technology must underpin it.
How do mobile apps make this possible?
Let’s take a closer look at the mobile app development trends for 2023 that support digital transformation based on insights from Forbes.
The rise of AI and ML
We’ve all seen the seismic shift created by the launch of ChatGPT. Conversational AI has come a long way in recent years, and customers now expect AI-powered features like chatbots to be present in every app they use. Employing chatbots to provide self-service, filter out the hard cases, and assign them to appropriate live agents dramatically improves the result of customer interactions with your products.
A continuing shift to the cloud
Cloud deployment has revolutionized the way businesses develop, deploy and manage their mobile apps. The inherent scalability, security, and cost-efficiency of running mobile apps in the cloud will be especially useful for streamlining operations during the economic downturn.
The arrival of working metaverse environments and super apps
You might have heard about Meta, Roblox, and Microsoft’s progress in developing super apps—digital environments that combine multiple mobile experiences. Growing as a part of the metaverse, super apps are places where customers can meet, communicate, interact, trade items, create content, play games, and more, all from a single platform. Reimagining social media this way might take time, but will surely revolutionize the way customers use mobile apps.
Growth in big data analytics
When times are hard, it’s crucial for you to see where your money is going. Deploying big data analytics platforms in the cloud gives businesses deeper insights into customer behavior and internal processes in the company. All business apps should have built-in analytics or provide access to a centralized big data solution to support your digital transformation.
Increased integration with other devices and platforms
The super apps we mentioned earlier can find their way into different niches. Open banking APIs, third-party libraries, and popular API connectors have grown to a point where they can connect a mobile device to any other device or platform, such as smartwatches, smart home systems, voice assistants, and wearables.
This means that businesses might turn from developing standalone mobile apps to creating multilayered mobile software toolkits for interacting with multiple devices through a single platform via APIs.
These trends are just the tip of the iceberg. Blockchain, motion-based layout, instant apps, and multiplatform apps built with Flutter will also continue to shape the mobile app development landscape in 2023.
Still, the tech and vision you integrate are just a part of your app development project. You also need to consider what type of app you want to build.
The Impact of Mobile App Types on Your Business Strategy
With the recession in full swing, you’re unlikely to find investment for an entrepreneurial vision with a long time to value. Instead, your products need to solve real-world problems, and do it well if you want to survive the economic downturn. You also need to include features that bring measurable results fast.
Techstack developed ServeMe, a mobile solution enabling simple order management and workflow automation for hotels and restaurants. The ServeMe product aimed to improve customer service by automating interactions between staff and guests. Thanks to Techstack’s implementation of spot scanning, iBeacon integration for simpler login, and real-time notifications, ServeMe saw a 200% increase in new user entry rate and a 50% increase in the number of mobile app downloads. ServeMe is now widely used across the hospitality industry and provides immense value to large hotel complexes and restaurants.
This Techstack case is just one example of how building a mobile app can concretely further business goals. The question is, how can you choose the right type of mobile app development?
Let’s look at the choices.
Building separate apps for iOS and Android lets you get the most from the range of features these platforms provide. For example, Android users can benefit from using instant apps like Shopify or Netflix and the motion-based layouts used in the updated YouTube app.
Flutter, React Native, Xamarin, Apache Cordova, and Ionic Framework are among the most widely used mobile development frameworks for native apps in 2023.
The core benefits of building a cross-platform app are speed and manageability. Using a single codebase for both platforms significantly reduces the time to market for new products and features, simplifies bug fixes, and ensures codebase reusability. This allows building new apps from existing blocks instead of writing everything from scratch every time.
Flutter, NativeScript, Ionic, React Native, and Xamarin are your best choices for cross-platform app development.
Hybrid apps run inside a lightweight “container” of native code. This ensures minimal resource utilization, as the app runs on a device’s built-in browser but still allows access to native features like the camera, push notifications, calendar, or pinch and spread. Instagram, Discord, and Twitter are examples of prominent hybrid apps.
Flutter, Xamarin, React Native, NativeScript, and Apache Cordova are the most popular mobile development frameworks for building hybrid apps in 2023.
Even though hybrid may seem to give you the best of both worlds, there are plenty of reasons you might want to go native or cross-platform instead. Let’s turn to what might influence your choice.
How to Choose the Right Type of Mobile App
Choosing the right approach to mobile app development in 2023 starts with answering three questions:
- How soon do you need an app?
- How much are you ready to invest in building and maintaining it?
- How fast should the app work? Is performance speed critical?
Alongside these high-level considerations, you’ll need to consider compatibility, development cost, and your desired features.
Native apps run the fastest and use the full range of platform features. They also benefit from using the platform’s UI, which can improve customer experience. Finally, rendering in native code is smoother and can be optimized for a specific type of device.
Cross-platform apps can almost replicate a native look and feel, but they require more resources to run (as the code must be rendered to the platform’s native code before execution and might lack access to all the device’s features).
Finally, hybrid apps have access to a bare minimum of device features, as they are essentially websites running in an envelope of code. They are also the slowest of the three and consume a lot of memory.
Balancing product needs against platform compatibility limitations will help you choose the best type of mobile app for your company’s digital transformation.
Development cost and time
Obviously, native apps take the most time and resources to be built, while hybrid apps are the quickest and cheapest to go through all the stages of mobile app development. With hybrid apps, you only need to build code containers to enable running a web app on a device’s browser and using certain device features.
In contrast, native apps need to be built from scratch using the development guidelines and best practices for each platform. This time can be reduced by partnering with a technology partner that has in-depth expertise in native development and ready solutions for common challenges.
Building a cross-platform app offers a middle road in terms of cost and project length, as you develop a single codebase for all platforms.
If your app only requires simple functions such as text messaging, this won’t affect your choice of app type. However, if you need more advanced functions such as GPS navigation, NFC interactions, QR code scanning, biometrics, or big data analytics, the options will be native or cross-platform app development.
Now you’ve seen how your choice of mobile app type contributes to the chances of success for your digital transformation initiative. But how can you measure this success?
Metrics for Measuring Mobile App Development Success in Digital Transformation
In the words of management thinker Peter Drucker, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” At the start of this article, we mentioned that companies often see just 30% of the results they anticipated from digital transformation. How can you ensure your product will do better?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) and OKRs
Embedding KPIs and OKRs into your mobile tools from the start makes it easier to monitor the effectiveness and pace of your digital transformation initiatives. Here are some KPIs you might want to use for customer-facing apps:
- App download numbers
- Cost per install
- App session numbers
- Session length
- Intervals between sessions
- User retention rate
- Churn rate
- Post-install performance (install to order period, i.e.)
- Average growth rate
- Average revenue per user
Some of these can be used for tracking internal mobile tools too. Using mobile apps to support operational efficiency and customer engagement measured by KPIs and OKRs is among the core benefits of digital transformation.
Tips for monitoring and analyzing continuous metrics
The goal of continuous monitoring is to detect potential issues and address them quickly. By selecting appropriate metrics (and adjusting them when necessary), you can instantly see the impact of your digital transformation initiatives on your business processes.
In the case above, ServeMe noticed that many users weren’t logging in after creating an account. Surveying these customers helped pinpoint the problem: many found the login procedure too complicated. Implementing a simpler login through iBeacon led to a 200% increase in platform logins. What’s more, after trying the web version, many customers chose to download a feature-rich mobile app, and the number of mobile app installs grew by 50%.
In your case, digital transformation metrics might include the following:
- ROI on digital endeavors
- Employee productivity growth
- Degree of technology adoption (daily active users, average time spent using a feature, customer retention rates, and more)
- Customer experience metrics (NPS, CES, or CSAT)
- Product/service reliability and availability. These are classic metrics such as uptime percentile, mean time to resolution, or mean time before failure.
- Cost-benefit analysis to ensure you grab the low-hanging fruit first and maximize your ROI.
- Revenue from digital tech. This metric might evaluate the particular revenue size from introducing digital technology, like an additional payment gateway, an eCommerce store for your products, subscription tiers, or a new mobile app.
- Cloud deployment scope. It’s no use moving tools to the cloud if your employees don’t use them. A metric could be the number of active deployments.
Techstack implements actionable monitoring in all our products to ensure our partners remain in the loop regarding the progress of their company’s digital transformation.
Digital transformation is essential for surviving the oncoming economic downturn, as it lets you optimize resource allocation and maximize customer engagement. Mobile apps are a perfect way to increase your product reach, but you need to build the right app for your company's targets and market.
Four things can improve your chances of success:
- Considering relevant market trends such as the growth of AI, ML, and cloud environments
- Making the right choice between building a native, hybrid, or cross-platform app
- Ensuring optimal platform compatibility and use of device functionality
- Putting the right KPIs and metrics in place
Techstack has over nine years of experience developing software for clients in the US, Canada, and Europe. We’d love to bring our expertise, top-quality talent, and dedication to your product and share in its success. Contact us to discuss your organization’s digital transformation strategy.