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Is there an app for that?

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The mobile app landscape is sure to be influenced by devices and how they evolve, but also the emergence of enterprise-grade tools such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, suggests Patrick Evans, CEO of Advanced Cloud Technologies.

Innovation is not a big part of their mandate, they don't have budget and aren't necessarily focused on mobile at the moment.

Evans started the mobile app business in 2012, following an extended period as Symantec's regional director, and prior start-ups in the 1990s. In meeting with prospective clients, however, he met with significant resistance from IT departments when trying to introduce the opportunity that mobile presents.

"Innovation is not a big part of their mandate, they don't have budget and aren't necessarily focused on mobile at the moment," he says. "We started talking to the business people, but were struck by a lack of appreciation of what mobile could actually do for a business."

This opposition to initial enquiries led to Evans hosting workshops with prospective clients to inform them about the opportunities, analyse the competition and show how mobile apps could give them an advantage. He says the benefits depend on the industry, but that effective mobile apps could boost customer relations and retention, improve sales capabilities, and even drive customer behaviour, as has been seen with patient-facing medical apps.

This education is a role he sees continuing until such time that models and case studies emerge that point to a clearer path, which avoids pitfalls such as creating a whole new workflow rather than embedding mobile into existing business practices.

"In my mind, mobile is shifting power from institutions to the consumer. Ten years from now, consumers will be dictating what they want, and they'll get it. Businesses that recognise this early on will get market share," predicts Evans.

Despite this optimism, he says there's a distinct danger in moving too quickly down this route, as any app must be thought out clearly, and be aligned with business objectives and processes.

With so few examples of the best processes, however, this journey of education and discovery could easily turn into a fumble in the dark for companies not properly prepared.

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