All Businesses Should Have Mobile Apps

Every business out there should have a mobile app available, especially if you consider the statistics that a rising percentage of people are using mobile apps AND the number of mobile devices far outnumber the number of PC’s.  For a project, I worked on a strategy proposal for a fake business, detailing the importance of a mobile app. It’s quite long and it goes as follows:

Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to provide  insight on how to assist Ruby’s Club and I hope that this proposal can be used to further the success of your club.  This IT-enabled strategic initiative aligns with your current business strategy which is to make your customers feel like they are at a “home away from home.”  The mobile application called Ruby’s Community, which will be available to all iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Nokia phones, will create an active mobile community in which customers stay connected with the club as well as other customers.  While the app will also enhance the customer experience within the club, the business process we are focusing on is integrating members off-line use of the club with their online out-of-club life.  With this mobile app, Ruby’s customers will be able to participate in the functions of the club while not physically that the club in numerous ways at other clubs’ customers cannot.  The following steps further illustrate the business process:

 

  1. Customers join the club.
  2. Customers download the app Ruby’s Community.
  3. App users create an individual account by signing up with their Facebook account.
  4. App users will receive a newsfeed much like a Twitter on which they can not only like/dislike but also leave comments.  They will be able to vote on which events they would like to see happen, bands they would like to see perform, and suggest their own ideas to you.
  5. While in the club, app users  will they be able to see which booths in the club are playing which music, but also enable booths that they reserve to play music through their personal iPod, iPad, or MP3 players.
  6. In addition, they can order drinks through the app and request a customized drink to be made in any way they wish.

The aforementioned business process will be measured by the amount of activity from mobile users.  Activity from customers’ offline use of the club includes the number of log-in activity, clicks, likes, votes, and comments for each account.  From this data, you can suggest upcoming events and bands tailored to the customers’ preferences and decide on what kind of discounts to offer the customer as an incentive to attend.  Data will also be collected on the types of drinks each customer orders and how often, the type of music listened to in the booths, and which events are attended.   The bartenders’ duty will include studying customers’ preferred drinks to anticipate their orders and suggest compatible drinks.  With the data collected from this app, you will be able to find ways deliver to your customers exactly what they want when they want it.  All the functions of the Ruby’s Community app will work towards creating a highly active community of customers who can participate in many functions of the club, thereby developing a close and personal relationship to the Ruby’s.

 

Creating a mobile app will prove effective in working towards your business strategy because of the increasingly high number of people using mobile phones to stay connected to their social network and the increasing popularity of mobile apps.  According to Gartner, mobile application vendors have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 25% from 2003 to 2010 and these experts expect this trend to hold during 2011 through 2015, as the number of smartphones and Web-capable phones accelerates.  Furthermore, CIO surveys by Gartner have indicated that mobility remains a Top 5 priority during the next three years (Clark, 20 September 2010).  This demonstrates the importance of a mobile app in contributing to a business’ growth and success.  I have complete confidence in the success of the functions of this mobile application, as ideas based on a similar notion have proven highly successful by other companies.  Threadless is a T-shirt design company whose customers play a critical role in all processes of the company from idea generation to marketing to sales forecasting, and its success is largely based on the innovation that is driven by these customers.  They design and vote for the T-shirts that they want to purchase.  Threadless now has 1.4 million registered members, up from 188,000 at the end of 2005, and Forbes estimates the company garnered $30 million in revenue in 2009 (Birkner, 30 April 2011).  The members of Threadless have made the company feel like their own.  Likewise, by having a direct say in the bands, events, and overall functions of the club, Ruby’s customers will feel like the club is their own, enabling them to feel more at home.  The function of ordering drinks, even customized drinks, at the bar through Ruby’s Community will transform the drink ordering experience.  iOrder Drinks and Toughlife Drink Ordering are current apps for iPhone and iPod Touch users who can order a drink more easily at an overcrowded bar by selecting the drink they wish and having the screen flash so the bartender can easily see from a distance the customer’s request (Currin, 15 July 2010).  Ruby’s Community will go beyond this and be able to communicate to the bartender’s software what the order is and even allow the customer to make his own drink, not just choose from the database of drinks.

 

T-S Fit: Ruby’s business strategy is to make customers feel at home at the club.  Therefore, software application called Ruby’s Community will be developed through each OS own application developer to provide users with the opportunity to not only interact directly with each other, but ultimately with the club by connecting users through similar music and with the club by joining the club, receiving news feed, and creating their own drink and vote on others to be served in the club, while making it easier for the club to receive crucial data from users such as; number of logins, likes, votes. Additionally, bartenders will be able to keep track of the general trend of drinks being created and be able to tailor customers and maybe even make suggestions of their own. For the website itself, there will a tab called Community, then there will be sub-pages;forum, application, meet ups, voting, and drink creator interviews and all these will be apart of the application. The SCUUT elements of Ruby’s Community were particularly suited to this strategy.  Rubys Community is scalable because it’s easy to sign up, handle the various demands, and collect the data. Rubys Community was changeable, in that it was specifically customized to the needs of each customer by having an individual account. Rubys community was easy to use by both customers and Ruby; for example, customers can sign up using their facebook account meaning that adding general information about yourself is not needed and its just as accessible to Rubys as the customers, but the club (and bartenders) will use the software/data more in depth to better serve their customers.  Rubs Community must have been trialable because applications must be approved from the specific OS Company.  Finally, Rubys Community was unique in that it is a user-friendly software that could easily add user content such as profiles, news feed, voting system, drinks created, and use of music booths to create discussion and community amongst everyone and the club.

T-P Fit. The business process was the process integrating member’s off-line use of the club with their online out-of-club life. The metric for that process was: increasing out-of-club life activity to impact their in club activities. The business process requires a lot of activity from users. It’s the users that drive the content of the app, how much content is receives and what the club does with that content/data to make customers feel more at home at their club.  The club did not have the information how to accomplish that because they had no direct interaction with the customers. Data management is very important in the business process. Thus, Rubys Community and the website will allow the club to access beneficial information from users and use it to offer; initiatives for whomever wins the drink contest, they can offer discounts, see what kind of music is most popular from the music booth and have live bands, etc.  Therefore, Rubys Community fit this process need by involving users even when not in the club and motivating them to get more involved with the club online and others users because it directly impacts their experience in the actual club. In this way, Rubs Community supported the process

T-O Fit. The ecosystems’ organization consisted of 4 entities: customers, the club, and the application, website. The application (Rubys Community) and website are designed to support the club in various ways. The structure was highly differentiated between the 4 entities so Rubys needed to create an internal and external format that will provide a way to use the data collected to the clubs benefit. The styles of each entity were quite different; Rubys Community and the website allowed for these differences by for example, allowing customers to provide data vs providing immediate content to the application. The staffs of each are quite different so Rubys Community allowed for differences in staff skill level (very simple for customers; much more sophisticated for the club, waitresses and bartenders).

Initiative in more detail:

 

  • Hardware: The application will reside on the server that will be created for it, customers only need a cellphone to access both the website and application
  • No point of sale, application is free and customers will not be making online payments of any sort
  • There are programs online that provide the tools to create a poll online for the website, a forum, GPS (for the meet ups), and uploading a video onto a website is simple and just requires HTML code
  • Servers: There will be a server for database management/warehouse, a server for the application, and a server for the website
  • There will be a firewall on all servers including an application firewall
  • Rubys will not be providing the music since at the moment they are unable to identify the songs/genre/artists the customers prefer. The customers will be able to plug in their ipod,iphone,mp3 into a dock and from there the music will be played.
    • There will be no collecting or providing of music. However, the genre of music which users of the booth will have to input when naming their booth will be collected to understand what kind of music the customers prefer

The organizational dimensions will be:

 

  • Bartenders and club owners will be able to override any recommendations from the software and be able to and management data/content as needed
  • Bartenders and waitresses will be the employee’s that will be using the most so their skill level will be high in order to handle malfunctions, read orders accurately, and so on
  • Hostess will have general knowledge of the application, but nothing too detailed.
  • Waitresses and Bartenders will need to learn how to use their time effectively when placing and making customize drinks and interact more with the customers since it will be drinks they will not be familiar with
  • Since each OS have their own software developer, there is no need to hire a company or any outside help
  • Like any other club, everyone reports to the managers, but all employees must communicate with each other to be efficient and effective.
  • The culture/atmosphere for the employee’s will be the same as for the customers, we want them to be a community and therefore will be required to have the application and have a profile to keep in touch with each other and their favorite customers

Specific Process Issues:

 

  • Software should be automatically calculate a cost for the made-up drink and come up with drink suggestions
  • The software should be able to detect any virus, malfunctions, and protect against them before directly affecting the user
  • Software should be handle user content, news feed, voting system
  • Software should always be able to accurately detect the genres of each booth and how many people are in them at any given time along with other general information like location
  • The software should be fast to use and running smoothly at all time with no interferences
  • The link that will provided online should always be working and fast to download without causing interruptions

Data, Information, and Knowledge:

 

  • Data
    • Descriptions of events, “likes”, logins, general user information, votes, drinks
  • Information
    • Name with amount of activity on the website and through application
  • From the data and information Rubys will be able to tell who is the most active and try to learn suggestions from them and how they are using their activity to make the most out of the club experience both outside the club and inside
    • Rubys will also be able to pin point our least active members and give them some kind of motivated, figure out their needs/wants to get them more involved
    • Furthermore, Rubys will be able to suggest drinks of their own, use the forum to gain knowledge through feedback and general discussion among the users, and what kind of music their customers seem to prefer

There exists a medium threat of new entrants when other types of establishments such as restaurants and bars begin to adopt and implement the idea of creating a mobile community of their customers.  However, by utilizing the app first, Ruby’s will be at the forefront in modifying and improving the app to best match their customers.  The threat of substitutes is high as nearby clubs might create their own mobile app but Ruby’s customers will have developed a strong loyalty to the club. Customer loyalty can be improved by offering special discounts through the app.  The power of buyers is high because the success of the app depends on the number of customers who download the app and how much they use it.  The power of suppliers is low because Ruby’s can easily switch to another applications specialist if you are not satisfied with the current one’s app for Ruby’s.  Creating Ruby’s Community will develop a strong relationship between Ruby’s customers and the club and amongst Ruby’s customers, themselves.  Ultimately, by being able to choose the music, bands, and events of the club, customers will begin to feel as Ruby’s as a vacation home, one tailored to their needs and wants.

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