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Mobile Development – Are You Asking the Right Questions? Part 2
Can your infrastructure handle success?

In my first installment of this post, I discussed how mobile is growing as a marketing vehicle for companies. With this growth in popularity, companies can't just jump into mobile app development without asking questions about business need and development methods. In this post, I will discuss additional questions that need to be asked about infrastructure, the expertise of the development team and user demands and why they are critical to answer before starting the development process.

Can your infrastructure handle success?

Too often a company develops a mobile app and has high expectations for user engagement, only to have performance and bandwidth issues that bring their servers crashing down. This makes usage difficult and as a result, users  quickly lose interest.  Doesn't make it much of a marketing vehicle, does it?

The cloud has emerged as a real and viable solution to the question of infrastructure.  Recent hiccups with certain cloud providers notwithstanding, developing mobile apps in the cloud effectively takes infrastructure out of the equation, giving companies a cheap and scalable way to support rapid growth. This allows the company and development team to focus on more important things, such as adding new features to the app that will really bring value to the user and, as a result, the business. It's one less thing to be concerned about, and a major thing at that.

When planning a mobile app development project, be sure to consider working in the cloud, to ensure that the app produced is ready for the success it can achieve.

Does your team understand more than just development?

Companies may have the technical proficiency within IT to get an app developed, but it's critical that the app developers align with the company's marketing strategy to ensure the end user actually downloads it. Most mobile projects demand creativity, digital marketing expertise and a thorough understanding of the user experience - on top of development skills. When beginning a project, it's important to question whether your company possesses the capabilities demanded in both the development and discovery processes to address the customer's needs, and to align the different perspectives to ensure a smooth delivery of the product to market.

What does the user really want?

This one actually has two parts - the before and the after. The "before" refers to creative design and development, and questioning which features will engage users and inspire them to make the oh-so-important recommendation to their friends. The "after" refers to the customer feedback loop, and how it impacts the delivery of future iterations.  Both parts involve customer engagement throughout the development and design process of both the initial app and future versions. It is also critical to deliver these versions to the customer quickly.

Smartphones have already become an integral part of our daily lives, and the launch of the iPad 2 made it clear that tablets have taken hold as the next evolution in mobile.  The opportunities for marketing on this channel are there for the taking - you just have to find them.  And while engaging in a mobile project can have many benefits, these benefits can be accompanied by potential pitfalls. When developing an app, it's critical to combine digital marketing expertise and development skills, while also understanding the business need and how this need relates to the user.

When developing a mobile app for marketing purposes, be sure to ask the right questions, so the mobile projects will end up yielding real business results - not just a shiny new app.

About Paulo Camara
Paulo Camara is mobile services manager at Ci&T, a global provider of application development and product engineering services.

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