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Apps: the ‘super engine’ that’s driving business transactions

By Graham Fell, FlexDev
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If we were to examine the latest trends in technology and buzz words, we’d be discussing AI, blockchain, AR and VR technology, edge computing and quantum computing.

However, I’d like to take a step back and look at something that’s been around for over a decade and is gaining such momentum that it’s predicted that this year – in 2020 – it will have more impact on business revenues than any other technology.

We are talking about the humble app.

We live in a world which is increasingly connected. Things are ‘smart’, things are ‘mobile’. This is the central nervous systems of our connected daily digital lives. Smart cars can predict a malfunction before it happens, smart wind turbines that can predict overheating before it occurs, smart fridges that can let you know you are about to run out on an item and let you know before it happens, smart cities, smart factories and many more.

Let’s look at some current numbers – and then brace yourself for what’s coming

This year, there will be 7.6 billion users in the world that own 100 billion connected devices. There will be 1 trillion apps. These apps are of course not all just mobile apps, but also IoT apps, and cloud-based apps.

IT research firm Gartner predicts that in 2020, mobile apps are predicted to be the technology that has “the most impact on business success”.

The appeal of the app is its convenience; they are simple to install and use. The number of mobile apps downloaded in 2019 was up 45% greater than in 2016. The total number of new apps downloaded in 2019 is 204 billion; this generated $120 billion including subscriptions and renewals. This is staggering statistic but why is this number so high?

Apps streamline our daily lives, disrupting traditional business models, making things easier for us to get things done. Mobile apps have transformed nearly every aspect of our lives form ordering food, sending money and receiving money, checking the weather, watching films, ride-sharing and ride-hailing, playing games, finding out what wine you are drinking, how many calories you are consuming, meeting your future partner, joining social meet-up groups, through to simply communicating with friends on social medial platforms to ask them how their day was…you name it, there’s an app for it.

Apps have become the point of interaction between people and people and from businesses to consumers and consumers to businesses. We use mobile apps so much that we don’t even think about them….

The convenience and simplicity of mobile apps is appealing to users. Since most mobile phone owners kept their phones with them (spending on average three hours and 15 minutes a day glued to their screens), it just takes a few moments to find the app of your choice and it can be downloaded in moments. Mobile apps have also reached far beyond games, social media, the many other personal apps.

Companies are now leveraging mobile apps for work-related reasons across a variety of sectors such as retail, banking, logistics where apps can be used to track productivity, business operations, and general management. A mobile app can be leveraged to dispatch a maintenance or sales-team member to the shop floor, to track the location of a lost or delayed driver while they are making deliveries. Apps are changing our lives so much that it’s kind of hard to think of what life was like without them. I’m often criticised for always being on my phone and I admit I’ve been an addict for a long time. We cannot ignore the fact that we are living in a digital age where everything and everyone is connected, in real time – and all the time. Business know this and apps are opening new business models that are creating unprecedented revenues for them. The answer to combat phone and app addition is not to go to rehab, but just use in moderation.

Apps can also be disruptive and challenge the status quo. I’d like to give three well-known examples where disruptive apps have changed the very way certain industries do business and that the same time put others out of business. Uber, Netflix and iTunes. In each case, these disruptive technologies had one fundamental thing in common.

They each knew their customer better than their competitor.

1.7 MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth which means that there are 2,5 quintillion bytes of data created each day, this will only increase with exponentially with the Internet of Things (IoT)

Netflix did not put Blockbuster out of business…ridiculous late-return fees did. Uber is not killing of the taxi business. Limited availability and high costs are. iTunes did not kill off the music industry – being forced to buy full-length albums did. Here we see that technology is not just the disruptor. The challengers knew what their customers wanted, while their competition did not. They also have another thing in common – they reached their customers through apps.

While we live in an age of tremendous digital change, FlexDev recognises two other majors shifts that are linked to apps. They are data and connectivity. According to research, 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the least two years which means that this year, 1.7 MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth! This means that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day – and this will only increase exponentially with the Internet of Things (IoT).

This data is coming in from so many sources such as social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, chat bots and their derivatives. Data has no value unless is it is backed up, stored and analysed and from the analysis companies can gain valuable insights taken from that data – this is a gold mine for companies, and this is what is powering apps.

The third shift is connectivity. All devices need to be connected and need to be working perfectly, connecting the apps in in real time all the time, within the right context, at any given moment in time.

So, if apps are the engine that drives business, then data is the fuel that get the business going, and connectivity is the highway!

All rise for Poland

As the pace of transformation increases in the technology industry, companies are struggling to find the right developers they need for the ever increasing complex apps that need to be developed, with many companies claiming that graduates are leaving university without relevant skills and talent which means by the time they leave their studies, their skills are already obsolete.

Yet Poland is an excellent place to find some of the best developers in the world. According to Neoteric, Polish developers get some of the highest ranks in international programming contests, such as Google Code Jam, Microsoft Imagine Cup, the Central European Programming Contest (CEPC) and Top Coder. They are currently ranked third in the world at Hackerrank and fifth in the world by Top Coder. Poland is one of the best places in the world to find top talent that know the technology trends and are up to date with the shifts.

Poland has been and is a top outsourcing destination for ITO/BPO/SSC centres, but faces threat with labour arbitrage. Where previously lower costs were one of the top drivers, this is no longer the case, as costs begin to balance out with western Europe. Poland needs to transition to a position of excellence offering best-in-class centres of excellence that are an intellectual-property value-add rather than just a cheaper workforce.

This should not be an issue as Polish people have a strong educational background. According to the New York Times, almost 40% of Polish people aged 25-34 have university degrees, which thrusts the country into the top rankings in Europe when it comes to education. This is good news when looking for top talent.

As technology will become even more prominent with more and more compact smart apps being developed, we can only imagine what the future may hold. I could probably predict the amount of data, the number of devices and the number of apps, but I wouldn’t be certain as to the type of apps that there will be in the future – maybe I can download an app that can tell me what the future looks like?

More information at https://www.flexdevgroup.com/

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