The growing affordability of smartphones and increasing ubiquity of high-speed wireless broadband are driving customers toward a mobile mind shift: the expectation that any desired information is available, on any device, in context, in a person’s moment of need. Firms in Asia Pacific in general and India in particular have become cognizant of this fact; in 2014, more firms plan to build a mobile strategy for customers or partners than for employees.

I recently spoke with members of the application development team at Torry Harris Business Solutions (THBS) in India. THBS develops mobile apps for clients worldwide. The team revealed that THBS clients now focus much more on user experience (UX) design — so much so that some of them are even willing to spend an additional 5% on top of the total app development cost to get a better design. UX design represents about 30% to 40% of the total mobile app development cost. But a great UX is only half of a mobile engagement; context is the other half. To develop a complete and effective mobile engagement, eBusiness and channel strategy professionals must:

  • Focus on UX design to enhance customer engagement. While the user interface (UI) mostly only deals with the app’s visual design or graphical interface, UX is a much broader concept. It not only encompasses UI but also includes other aspects like data flows, user persona definition, user decision points, and gestural interactions like swiping. To build a great UX, eBusiness and channel strategy professionals should work with people with skills from design schools (such as the National Institute of Design; the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology; and Mod’art in India), preferably ones with a background in product design, either by hiring skilled people or outsourcing app development to an agency with these skill sets.
  • Add context to intuitively help customers in their moments of need. If UX is the beauty of your app, context is its brain. Users don’t want “dumb” apps on their devices. Mobile apps need to leverage the power of social, cloud, analytics, and the powerful sensors embedded in today’s mobile devices to deliver information that is useful in a user’s moments of need — something that Forrester defines as “systems of engagement.” Our research shows that context-based mobile apps with a rich UX will be successful, as they can connect well with digitally empowered customers in their moments of need.

eBusiness and channel strategy professionals need to leverage mobile apps to enhance customer engagement, create strategic competitive differentiators, and open up new revenue streams — similar to what India-based real estate firm Indiabulls did when it used a tablet app to drive sales growth.