Mobile Apps have Exploded

Mobile Apps have Exploded

But how to choose the right one for your organization

How did you start your day today? How did you end your day yesterday? For most of us, starting or ending our day involves connecting in some way with a mobile application. In 2014, the number of Internet users worldwide has reached nearly 30 billion. While the majority of these users connect via fixed-line to a PC, the growth of mobile- and cloud-based solutions has skyrocketed. Industry experts estimate that mobile-only users (no laptop, no desktop) will hit 1 billion next year.

The proliferation of mobile- and cloud-based applications is changing the entire computing landscape. This vast array of apps is allowing users to control everything from the TV shows recorded on their home DVR to the volume on a personal hearing aid. Who would have guessed five years ago that the PC would now be on the endangered devices list as tablets and smartphones become the preferred devices for work and play.

Industry experts predict mobile applications will replace traditional methods of media and entertainment, traditional means of communication and traditional ways of making payments in the next few years. The race is on in all industries to provide the next mobile app innovation, and the competition is only getting fiercer.

This is no less true for the security industry. Although big technology companies have been testing the waters in the security industry for years, the barriers to entry for most core security offerings have been too great or potential profits too small to make entrée by these big players a reality thus far.

This is certainly not the case when it comes to mobile app development. As a whole, the industry has a lot to learn from the titans of the mobile app world. Today, security industry end users are more tech-savvy and more tied to their mobile devices than ever before, and fears of managing critical elements of their business via mobile technology are waning with each passing month.

Mobile App Development

For our business, we see mobile and cloud-based technology as the cornerstone of future product development and essential to our continued strong growth. For manufacturers, there are some basic tenets of building a mobile app that you need to understand before that first line of code is laid down.

Although no product should ever be developed in a vacuum, comprehensive customer analysis is essential to developing mobile and cloud-based applications. Let’s face it, if we don’t understand what the customer really needs, which is often different from what they say they need—that app will never be downloaded or worse, will be downloaded and never used.

First and foremost to our customer analysis, understand why you need an app. For a security application, mobile apps can give a customer remote anytime, anywhere control over certain devices or systems. At a basic level, an app could allow a user to arm/disarm intrusion systems, manage access control systems, or interact with their video system—retrieve snapshots or recorded video, view live video and share with others. In a more advanced app, users can manage lighting and environmental controls, personal security devices, or business intelligence applications.

Second, who will use the app? If your primary audience is the power user, your development will take a different path from a mobile app developed for the basic user. You likely will not need to replicate all functions of your native applications, but can focus on the most interactive features for maximum impact. It is important to understand how tech-savvy your users are, how often they will use the app, and from what type of device.

Choosing the Right Mobile App

As a mobile app user, it is important to understand what features you plan to use most often when choosing a mobile app provider. Beyond the essentials of stability and access across multiple mobile platforms, four key attributes need to be considered.

Usability. Mobile apps must be easy to use and manageable on multiple devices, deploy more graphics than text and require little to no training to use. What type of interface do you prefer? Is it easy for you to get to what you need when you need it? Are critical functions accessible, but not so much so that you inadvertently trigger an unintended action? Relevance. If the app isn’t relevant for you, it’s not valuable to you. Does the app allow you to customize your experience? Can you choose what notifications you want to receive and when you want to receive them? Does the app give you options and functionality others do not?

Integration. Although less is sometimes more, if your app allows integration of multiple technologies, the greater the chance you will use it daily. Are you able to manage your critical systems without issue? Can you arm/disarm your intrusion systems, manage access control or video data, or incorporate lighting and climate controls? Can you interact with your security system provider for monitoring or maintenance assistance through the app?

Uniqueness. Your mobile app provider should look beyond traditional security and seek to provide value for your entire business. Does the app integrate with your existing analytics or business intelligence platform? Do you have a need for GPS-enabled, mass notification, or wearable applications? Importantly, is the app valuable across several departments and not just for security?

The proliferation of mobile apps has opened up a new world of interactive systems in the security industry. For the manufacturer, a robust mobile app roadmap can be a constant reinforcement of system value and help achieve a deeper connection to the end user. For the end user, choosing the right mobile app provider can improve your bottom line and give you a level of control over your systems previously reserved for the integrator alone. The most relevant app is the one that becomes an indispensable tool for your daily routine. One thing is certain, we have seen only a fraction of the potential power of mobile apps for the security industry. How will you start your day tomorrow?

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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