Don’t look at your phone now, but mobile apps are dominating the world. With four billion people online and 31 billion connected devices, mobile apps are quickly becoming the preferred way of doing business, for everyone from your customers to your partners to your employees. 

According to Yahoo Flurry’s State of Mobile report, U.S. consumers now spend more than five hours per day on their mobile devices, and 90 percent of their mobile time is spent in apps. Conversely, consumers’ time spent on mobile web browsers has declined steadily to just eight percent. Even if it’s responsively designed for mobile, your website is losing eyeballs every day.

If you’re not building customer-facing or enterprise-facing mobile applications already, you should be. Here are five reasons why you need skin in the game, and why training your staff to develop apps in-house may be the best solution.

1. Everybody’s doing apps

Gartner reports that 79 percent of surveyed organizations have increased their mobile spending by 36 percent since 2015, and by the end of 2017, 25 percent of enterprises will have their own app store for managing corporate-sanctioned apps. A recent study by Wakefield Research of 1,000 executives at companies with 1,000+ employees puts the business demand into perspective:

  • 97 percent of executives report that employees or divisions within their organization have requested new mobile apps or app features. 
  • 98 percent of executives believe their company would benefit from specific types of mobile apps.

2. Enterprise apps increase efficiency in the field

If you have a distributed or mobile workforce, secure apps on smart devices such as tablets provide the best means to connect workers and exchange real-time data and business intelligence. Using proprietary and secure mobile apps, data can be analyzed and updated instantly by salespeople, technicians, partners and others who demand immediate and accurate information to complete their processes, at any time and from anywhere in the world.

3. Your customers are increasingly mobile

Mobile purchases are overtaking in-store and even website-based purchases. This is especially true for young adult consumers. “People are getting hooked on mobile purchases,” says Sachin Gupta, CMO at Code Brew. “69 percent of millennials purchase from their mobile phones and this projection is expected to increase up to 2020.” According to Google’s Mobile Path to Purchase report, 26 percent of all consumers use a mobile app as the starting point when searching with the intent to purchase. 

4. Mobile apps improve customer loyalty

Apps also improve customer loyalty. The mere icon of a company’s mobile app on their phones enables a persistent presence of mind. And if that app is associated with your company’s loyalty program, it has an even more positive effect. A report by SmallBizTrends notes that “70 percent of smartphone users would be interested in using their smartphone to collect points and earn discounts.” 

Not only do loyalty apps do away with bulky loyalty cards, they can also enable smart location-triggered features such as geofenced push notifications of discounts and reviews.

5. Third party app development is expensive and falls short 

While outsourcing mobile app development may first appear to be the easiest strategy, it’s not without its costs and drawbacks. As the Wakefield study points out, 96 percent of companies who turned to third-party vendors reported difficulties, such as:

  • Higher than expected development costs (43 percent)
  • High maintenance costs (41 percent), and
  • Lack of customizable options (39 percent)

In fact, 92 percent felt that the third-party produced applications didn’t meet their expectations. 

Turning to external vendors or developers also brings additional risks. These could include poor product quality, constant delays due to developer time zone differences and, most nefarious of all, source code insecurity, including the risk of trap doors that put your customer information within the reach of hackers. Also, never outsource or contract mobile app development without an NDA.

Tips for turning out apps from the inside

Hiring app developers to join your company is always an option. However, the short-term or seasonal nature of creating business apps makes this a potentially costly approach. The Center for American Progress reports that the cost of talent acquisition averages 21 percent of the annual salary of a new employee. According to Glassdoor, the U.S. national average salary for a mobile app developer in 2017 is $92,067. That means you could pay over $19,000 extra just to onboard that new employee before they even write a line of code. 

In the Wakefield study, 42 percent of businesses who outsourced their mobile app development cited a lack of skilled staff as the reason they turned to the outside. However, mobile app development skills are relatively easy and inexpensive to gain. For example, the cost of Simplilearn’s Certified Android App Developer Training Course runs as low as $299 for individuals. Training an entire cadre of your company’s IT team in all aspects of mobile app development (including the latest Advanced Java, Python, Selenium 3.0 or Angular coding), can be less than the recruiting costs for one new employee, not counting their salary.

Wrapping up what’s right for your apps

Mobile apps have become a strategic necessity for business. Outsourcing mobile app development makes your company dependent on another business, makes maintenance and even small changes expensive and can even put your code and customer data at risk. 

Hiring new talent can be a surprisingly costly alternative, but upskilling your staff in the current technologies of mobile app development makes good business sense. The flexibility and cost savings your company can enjoy will also make you more competitive and even enable new mobile marketing opportunities.

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