Is Your Business “App”-tly Represented?

Everybody Seems to Have an App, Should You?

Quick, without looking, how many apps do you have on your phone or tablet?
It seems that not too long ago phones were, well, just phones.  Then texting, photos and video.  And now, apps.  Not just one or two apps.  In fact, it seems you can’t get along without an app for nearly everything.  In fact, in a world where there is seemingly an endless supply of apps, if a certain app did not exist, someone would probably build an app for that.
Face it, it’s an app world.
In business, nearly everyone is jumping into the app ring.   You’ll find most social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter available as native apps, just like you would find as are public service agencies like municipalities, local governments and law enforcement that use these apps to communicate with their constituencies and provide real-time updates.
Apps are here to stay because they provide a win-win scenario for all involved – business and customer.
Mobile-based apps offer mobility and convenience for consumers and web-based apps, like BPAA’s relatively new Customer Connect (introduced less than a year ago) allow users to do business anywhere.  If a small business wants to succeed into today’s tech-savvy marketplace, apps are the perfect addition to your marketing strategy as well as another way to distribute their products and services.
If you have not joined the app age and are thinking you might want, or need one, here’s a short tutorial.
First, an app is short for application, which is a sort of software that can be used for a variety of purposes from recreation and entertainment to finding routes to managing your employees. Currently there are two types of apps, web and mobile.
Web apps are available over the Internet, which makes them easy to install and set up as you do not need any fancy programs.  You can get apps through Internet browsers such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer or Mozilla, for example.  You can also access apps through your mobile phone and tablet browsers.
Mobile or native applications like Facebook or Twitter run directly on mobile devices or tablet operating systems.  Usually you can get them through an app store such as Google Play Store.  You can search for an app in a number of categories, click to download and install and within a few seconds, it is available to run on your smartphone or tablet.
Bowling and family entertainment centers are finding apps very business-friendly in a number of ways as an alternate distribution channel.  Apps can be developed and used to enhance your business in areas such as overall operations and in segments such as bar, restaurant or party business.  Apps can also help improve employee productivity because you can access, download and analyze data from anywhere and because they are affordable, apps help to reduce office costs.
In fact, one of the newest bowling apps on the market is XBowling, which allows bowlers to connect with other bowlers anywhere around the world and participate in head-to-head, real time competition.  It’s bowling without borders.
You may have asked yourself if you should build an app for your business.  With all the competition out there, (72 percent of small businesses already use apps according to a 2011 AT&T poll) the answer is yes, you should have an app; and because more and more your customers (both regular and future) are online savvy shoppers already and are much more at ease using their apps for nearly everything, you need to have that presence.
As an example how an app can help your business, consider BPAA’s Customer Connect.  It allows proprietors to manage and connect with customers easier than ever before.  Plus, with a web-based help desk app such as Assistly, you can monitor your social media efforts.  (The assumption is you DO have a Facebook page, don’t you?  If not, you really need to get one).
There are countless possibilities for web-based and mobile customer relationship management (CRM) applications such as data base building, isolating information for dedicated mailings for things such as birthdays, leagues and special events.  With external resource planning (ERP) applications you can schedule employees, monitor and shift inventory levels on the go and keep track of your food and beverage costs.
Note that most web applications are for use with the most popular browsers such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla, however there is heated competition in the mobile and tablet operating systems arena such as Android.
Whether to build an app for your business or not really depends on your business model.   Commonly mobile apps need to have the right infrastructure such as smart phones and the right kind of operating system.  On the other hand, web-based apps can be run on any supported browser.  Another factor to consider is does your business require a dedicated browsing experience such as Facebook or Twitter, or do you need one that allows moving between several tabs or pages?  One example is offering special deals on games, food or promoting a spur-of-the-moment event.
When weighing whether or not to have an app, consider a recent survey by Forrester Research found over 65 percent of customers already use their mobile device to buy goods and services and over 50 percent used their smart phones and tablets for social media and gaming.  The audience is already there, why aren’t you?
To start the app process for your business, you may want to go online and search for business application marketplaces or companies who offer services specific to businesses seeking recommendations on the app process.
Bowling center owners/operators wishing more information on web and mobile apps are invited to contact BPAA Webservices. –

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