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Consider this before taking your business onto mobile

Taking your startup’s website mobile is an expensive endeavor, especially if you want to go native and/or responsive. But Africa and South Africa’s mobile usage is so prevalent now that your business will be left in the dust if its presence on mobile is not well thought out.

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I’d like to look at some considerations of how a corporate or startup website reflects on mobile, and why it is necessary to avoid casual methodology in mobile app development as well as the need to truly understand the mobile ecosystem.

These are some of the key considerations that have to be born in mind before a business is taken into the mobile realm and serious investment is made.

User Expectation

It is advisable for startups to review their websites in terms of how user-friendly they are on a mobile device. These need to be ‘responsive’ or adapt to the screen size of the device that is being used to load the website or application.

It is also suggested that businesses rethink their strategies in terms of using HTML5 technology that mimics a native mobile application’s design. This type of mobile application is referred to as ‘Hybrid Mobile Application’.

The problem with this approach is again, User Expectation. If a user launches a mobile application on their device, they expect it to behave and respond accordingly using native features. Hybrid Mobile Applications run a high risk of not meeting these expectations, as they may not be as responsive and may also have limited accessibility to the device’s hardware features.

Investment Concerns

I’m not suggesting that all mobile development should be done using a pure native approach. This is too high an investment and will require a rewrite of the mobile application for most mobile operating systems (e.g. iOs, Android, Windows mobile, etc). What I recommend is making use of a Cross Platform framework for developing native mobile applications. These frameworks do exist and meet the end user’s expectations. The plus side is that the investment is significantly smaller than that of pure native mobile development.

The mobile wireless solutions and business application space is growing quickly, driven by the business need to extend the management of processes beyond the desktop or laptop. Service providers need to take security and offline accessibility into consideration when developing mobile applications. It is an increasingly competitive area of the ICT sector and those looking to leverage and add value need to be up for the challenge.

While developing mobile applications for businesses is still in its early days, the market is becoming increasingly competitive. We are reaching the point where mobile technology needs to be embraced in the same way cellphones and email were embraced many years before.

Technology has changed aggressively over the past few years and is still changing to this day. This is clearly evident in the business application arena and companies run the risk of using outdated or legacy applications.

Service Providers too need to be more than just experts on a certain technology or a specific product. They need be be innovative and on the forefront of tomorrow’s technology and in turn, provide their clients with a strategic way forward for business solutions.

In a market mushrooming with products (many of which are cloud-based and driven by international companies) and entry of just as many service providers, businesses are looking to leverage their strategies accordingly — this is why mobile cannot be ignored. However, while some businesses are ready to adapt mobile technology, they are less prepared to move to the cloud and would possibly require local support should they consider such products.

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