The Death Of Apps

There are 2.5 billion smartphones in the world, and the average person interacts with one 200 times per day. That means there are a total of 500 billion mobile moments every day – which by far exceeds the number of times we engage with the internet in the traditional cumbersome way: through a keyboard, mouse and a monitor.

This is also how many executives who are now responsible for digital transformation programs rose to their positions in the mid 90s and early 00s.

Experience, in some cases, is not always an advantage, however. And as a result, when they imagine new experiences designed for new behaviours and expectations, they often get built through an out-dated, irrelevant and misguided lens, created by the very experiences that made sense 10-15 years ago.

And here’s food for thought – by 2020, 20% of all brands will have abandoned their apps altogether.

Hello… Is It Me You’re Looking For?

Why? They are hard to find. Despite some recent improvements, discovering apps on Google Play and the Apple Store is not easy, as there are limited ways of stumbling across one, or finding them. Add a considerable (and increasing) amount of app fatigue. That is why expensive branded apps often drown among the ones that are already out there. And most get downloaded once, and kept for a few seconds at best before being deleted. And who can blame users for it, when they are not designed to solve a real human problem for a customer or an employee?

Marketing and promoting these apps is one way to get around these problems, but in order for a brand to create an app people will want to do more than just install for a few seconds, it is critical – above all else – that it must be functional and make a customer or an employee’s life dramatically easier.

The branded apps that will survive and continue to be relevant, will be the ones that are designed from the ground up, for a mobile-only experience, taking full advantage of the smartphone, recent developments in artificial intelligence, and designing it in a way that helps people achieve a simple task much more conveniently than before. For example, creating a claim if you are an insurance company in 10 seconds versus 10 minutes.

What mobile and messaging, in particular, has already done is break the customer journey into real-time, intent-driven micro moments.

Instead, use them to find the worst pain points and make it simple for customers or employees using an app. These are the type of apps that will continue to be used and relevant for people. They are functional apps that solve a real problem people care about.

In order to achieve this, these apps should have as little content as possible. Yes, you heard me correctly, apps aren’t meant to be ‘engaging’ – spending hours and hours in an app is not a good metric to use. In fact, if a customer can solve a problem like booking a taxi in 1 second, that is much better than 10 seconds. And this is why interfaces should be extremely simple, preferably invisible.

The apps that will continue to be relevant are the ones that are connected to an AI, which can predict when you will need it and serve you.

All Change Please

In 2010, as professionals, we had a myopic viewpoint, which concentrated on:

  • Mobile First / Customer Journey / Content / Intuitive, Engaging Interface… Dumb games

In 2017 we need to focus on:

  • Mobile ONLY
    Forget the website
  • Micromoments
    Instead of customer journey – but use the customer journey to inform you where your pain points are using data and insights.
  • Function
    Keep it simple, simple, simple, and help people solve an actual problem they have at work, as a customer, or as a human being in seconds. Faster is better.
  • No interface
    Using AI, you can increasingly build an app or experience around a user that only asks for attention when needed or when it can help the employee or customer.

The Above Equates To Being Smart

I’m not finished yet…

30% of all web browsing will be done without a screen by 2020 and people will interact with the digital world and the Internet through voice.

They will speak to their phone via Google Allo and Samsung’s new AI build by Viv or their things, not just their new Alexa Echo, but their voice-enabled car, refrigerator, thermostats, doors.

The Path Of Least Resistance…

If you are an employee, you will be able to book and schedule meetings by talking to Alexa which is integrated into all meeting rooms. Or how about asking Salesforce about your sales funnel and pipeline for a particular market?

The same functionality will be available on your phone through Android and OS directly, which will completely change how we interact with the digital world.

Voice is the path of least resistance and people will follow this path, along with the brands and companies that get it right immediately. This is where you should build your experiences, not in a content-heavy and difficult to maintain app that costs hundreds of thousands.

An intermediate step, between apps and voice, is the one app most people on the planet already have – Facebook Messenger.

Your brand needs to be part of the 250 billion mobile messages that are sent using this every day. It is the next evolution of consumer communication, adding a personalised layer to all customer touchpoints.

The Sweet Smell Of Success

The most successful brands will, instead of investing in an app, focus on how to get their brand onto people’s friend lists – and over time, become one of their best friends.

The future lies in creating pro-active AI enabled and integrated, personalised chatbots that drive awareness and purchase intent, deliver a personalised and easy shopping experience and one you use to build customer relationships with.

In essence, bring your old .com functionalities into a chatbot.

Another benefit with chatbots is that they can become the interface in which your non-integrated internal legacy systems can come together. An easily programmable AI can interact with different and even non-integrated systems, serving up content in a messaging interface to your employees or your customers.

This is going to replace enterprise apps so why wait for the inevitable?

The Truth

The Big four messaging apps are larger than the big four social networks which they overtook in 2015 with nearly 3 billion monthly active users compared to the 2.5 billion active users on the social networks. The reason why people love mobile messaging is because people trust messaging platforms, there is immediacy and, of course, the control over who sees their content.