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Modern communication technologyThe Future of Digital Banking is Here

The Future of Digital Banking is Here

Digital transformation isn’t new – it’s been happening in different industries over the past 20 or 30 years – with different waves occurring across various industry segments. In the 1990s, music, retailing, photography and video were all impacted by new entrants who used digital capabilities to change the way services were delivered and consumed. In the 2000s, TV, travel and recruitment were impacted, with the advent of YouTube, online travel sites and job posting boards. The 2010s find industries like retailing experiencing their second wave of digitization (first seen in the 1990’s) while financial services finally begins to discover the opportunities and challenges of digitization.

Beyond simply making current processes digital, today’s transformation is dramatically impacting the way in which customers interact with brands. Instead of visiting physical facilities, consumers in all industries are beginning their shopping and buying experiences online or with a smart phone, altering all phases of the traditional customer journey.

A new report, produced by Efma and Oracle Financial Services Global Business Unit, entitled ‘Digital Transformation – The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Banks’ looks at the current and future impacts of digitization within the banking industry. This report is the culmination of a series of three ‘Think Tank’ sessions hosted by these organizations.

Impact of Digital Transformation

While a great deal of attention is given to the individual players that are impacted by digital transformation (Kodak, Blockbuster, Borders, etc.),there is often quite a large financial impact on overall industry segments. As stated in the Efma/Oracle report, “A clear example can be seen in the music industry, where the global market now is only worth about half of its value in 2000. Another example is with the newspaper print advertising market, which is about a third of what it used to be.”

Impact of Digital Disruption

Not only is there a major financial impact to digital transformation. The report also found that digital transformation occurs significantly faster at a much lower cost than transformations of industries in the past. In addition, because of the lower cost of entry, more players can be informed in the process (enter fintech start-ups). The consequence is a more rapid pace of change.

For example, as mentioned in the report, in Brett King’s book, ‘Banking 3.0’, he chooses a level of 50 million users as the definition of a target figure for a market. For planes and cars to reach this level took over 60 years. Credit cards took 28 years but more recently, contactless credit cards took only four years to reach 50 million users, while Facebook and Twitter took only 3 and 2 years respectively. “So, the pace of change is getting much faster and the financial services industry has to adapt if banks are to succeed and survive,” states the research.

Role of Fintechs

It is well documented that there is a mass influx of new competitors in the financial services space globally, with massive funding of both new start-ups and innovations by large, established technology companies like Google, PayPal, Facebook and Amazon. According to the research study, fintechs have primarily focused on three segments of the financial services industry: payments, lending and personal finance. The two main reasons why these are the primary segments that the fintechs are pursuing include:

  • They are areas with significant fees and that also have a strong push towards a digital interaction.
  • Fintechs want to be able to work cheaper, faster and clearer and to provide a better transparency of what’s happening.

Despite the aggressive competitive environment, the vast majority of fintech firms lack scale and market awareness. While part of this can be attributable to a lack of successful marketing by all but a few of the new entrants, the major hurdles for fintech firms include a lack of capital, no legacy customer base, the trust level afforded legacy financial organizations and the understanding of regulatory and compliance issues by traditional banking firms. As a result, many fintech firms (and legacy banking organizations) are pursuing partnerships.

“The fintech companies have the advantage in terms of speed, agility, and the capacity to understand and quickly build a very good user experience. However, they don’t have the legacies that banks have and they have a completely different mindset – and with the lack of scale and trust, it’s not as easy as it might seem for fintechs to move forward without banks,” says the report. Ultimately, some fintechs will obtain a banking license, others will partner with larger banks or perhaps later will be acquired by larger financial institutions, while others may do a bit of both.

Key Digital Strategies for Banking

Oracle has observed different approaches that banks have been using to help to drive a digital strategy as well as to react and deal with some of the fintech companies. The report explores four key digital strategies that banks have been using with varying success. These are:

  • Launching a digital brand – This might involve positioning a new brand differently from the existing one, or developing a set of processes that enable the new digital brand to compete in a different way. Many different banks have done this across a lot of different markets. Examples include Fidor Bank in Germany, UBank in Australia and mBank in Poland. Digital brands focus on simplicity of design and ease of use through digitization. They also compete on price because as digital-only players, they can become more aggressive in this area, as they have much lower costs than traditional banks. Many of these brands have achieved relatively modest scale.
  • Digitizing processes – This is a key area where traditional banking organizations can compete with fintech firms. To do so, legacy banks must digitize both front-office and back-office processes based on the expectations that have been set by all of the other digital brands (not just financial services). The key digital processes from the consumer’s perspective include customer onboarding, originations and relationship pricing.
  • Modernizing the digital experience – The development of a digital enterprise is based around the four ‘Ps’ – Product, Price, People and Place. Place (which can be physical or virtual) refers to the need to enhance the digital experience at the point where the customer is. Unfortunately, the digital experience of many financial services companies tend to be rather dated. Key customer-facing digitization includes use of HTML5, responsive design, the ability to fully support all mobile devices, the integration of the Internet of Things, and even open APIs.
  • Launching new digital capability – When looking at a new capability, organizations may want to deliver something completely new outside their overarching mobile app, such as money movement apps, mobile wallets or the use of data as ‘currency’.

Oracle also believes banks need to start thinking more seriously about how they can take advantage of innovations such as virtual reality, FitBit or the Internet of Things, as all of these will play an integral role in the future lives of consumers. They believe banking organizations also need to reexamine and transform the role of the branch, so that it becomes more focused on customer service and advice rather than transactions.

The Time to Take Action

It is clear that differentiation – and competitive advantage – is occurring based on the ability of financial institutions to embrace and implement digitization. The firms that aggressively pursue the digitization of both back and front-offices will be in a better position to compete for the increasingly digital consumer and will be able to reduce costs (and increase revenue) based on this transition.

As stated in the Efma/Oracle report, “Overall, although the financial services sector isn’t unique in terms of suffering from the effects of disruption, banks can no longer afford to sit back and do nothing. There are numerous new technologies that they should be taking advantage of – and they could learn a great deal from other industries who have already had to face disruption. Despite the problem of regulation, there are also still countless valuable insights that they could can gain from different sources of customer information that would enable them to sell more and also to provide better advice.”

It is becoming abundantly clear that becoming a ‘digital bank’ is quickly becoming ‘table stakes’ as opposed to a nice benefit or feature of today’s banking experience.

Access the Report

Oracle teamed up with the Efma to learn about the digital strategies that banks are implementing to tackle these challenges in a series of virtual Think Tanks that were attended by 40+ banks from across EMEA and JAPAC. EFMA is a global not-for-profit organisation that brings together more than 3,300 retail financial services companies from over 130 countries – including almost a third of all large retail banks worldwide.

Download and read the 32-page report,  “Digital Transformation” here.

About the Author: Jim Marous is co-publisher of The Financial Brand and publisher of the Digital Banking Report.

You can find the original  article here.

For more information please contact us or call (317) 456-7560.


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00736r96_blog_image_644x300Eleven CRM Best Practices

Eleven CRM Best Practices

Following are 11 CRM best practices that can help organizations – specifically their marketing, sales and customer service departments – do just that.

1. Make sure your customer data is reliable and up to date. 

A CRM system is only as good as the data that’s in it. So constantly make sure any data entered into your CRM system is accurate – and regularly review and scrub customer data, to eliminate redundancies and ensure the information (e.g., the customer’s name, address, preferred method of contact and purchase history) is up to date.

2. See that everyone who interacts with customers knows the history.

“Know the customer’s purchase history,” says Mark Draper, an independent project management consultant experienced in CRM. “It is important to have a detailed summary of the customer’s purchase history including dates, quantities and terms. Customers will often want to repeat a previous order and nothing looks as bad as not knowing what and when.”

Similarly, it’s important for companies to “know the past issues/problems with the customer and how [they were] resolved,” he says. “Most customers want to continue working with you and want to be able to convince themselves that past issues/problems have been resolved and will not happen again.”

3. Know how and where your customers are interacting with you.

“Today consumers can reach out to a company via email, social media, chat, bots, or the tried and true phone call. If [a] company really values [its] customers, [it] will be there,” wherever “there” is, says Mayur Anadkat, vice president, product marketing, Five9, a provider of contact center software. “Furthermore, by understanding their customers’ preferences, history and context at all points in their journey, companies can really engage with their customers at a personal level. It shouldn’t matter where a customer is reaching out from. By implementing the proper infrastructure a customer will experience the same great service every single time.”

“Engage with your customers where they already are,” says Eric Bensley, director, Product Marketing, Salesforce. “In today’s hyper-connected world, every company is expected to provide a seamless, omnichannel service experience. And customers want to engage with brands where they spend their time – whether that’s Facebook Messenger, Twitter, video chat or in-app,” he says. “Companies that engage in these channels not only create loyal, happy customers, [they] can leverage these service interactions to get even smarter about their customers.”

4. Understand where customers are in the purchase process/cycle.

“People buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell,” says Clate Mask, cofounder and CEO,Infusionsoft, a provider of sales & marketing software. “By using a CRM tool to organize and analyze lead data, you can determine who is a hot lead, and who is in need of nurturing so you can guide them towards making a purchase.”

“With a CRM you are able to track where someone is in the sale funnel but also view previous consumer data for your clients,” says Michael Heiligenstein, marketing manager, Fit Small Business. “If you have a product that has a fixed or even semi-predictable life cycle, you [can] estimate when the consumer will be purchasing again. Then you can use your CRM to schedule a follow up exactly when they’ll start considering another purchase.”

5. Provide the personalization customers crave.

“Sending relevant, personalized emails based on timely and accurate customer data can increase click-through rates by up to 50 percent,” says Jason Rushforth, vice president & general manager, Customer Experience Business Unit, Infor, an enterprise software company specializing in CRM. And “with geolocation, sellers can send personalized messages and offers to customers as they approach a store location.”

Similarly, “delivering personalized website content and recommendations based on data from all of a customer’s interaction channels, both online and offline, improves engagement rates,” he says.

6. Eliminate pain points.

“Get serious about fixing the things that frustrate your customers,” says Robert Wollan, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy. “Over half of the top 10 most frustrating customer issues are the same as they were over a decade ago.  Customers actually make it easy for brands to identify frustrating experiences if they are paying attention and will do something about it.

“Complaining on social media about poor experience is the norm for 44 percent of U.S. consumers who admit taking to social channels in order to vent,” he says. “Negative experiences can directly impact profitability and quickly send loyal customers to a competitor. Companies that build great customer relationships address poor experiences and fix them so they don’t happen again, to ensure customers get the experiences they want and deserve.”

7. Don’t underestimate the value of human interaction.

“Human interaction is a vital component of customer satisfaction, even [or especially] in the digital age,” says Wollan. “Eighty-three percent of U.S. consumers say they prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues and get advice. Yet many organizations are cutting back on exactly those type of experiences in favor of digital,” he notes.

“Many [companies] wrongly assume that their digital-only customers are their most profitable, and customer service is a cost,” he continues. “Consequently, they over-invest in digital and lose their most profitable customers – multichannel customers – who want experiences that cover both digital and traditional channels.”

8. Ensure that customer service representatives are well-trained.

“The first line of contact for a customer’s service experience in a multichannel environment is a company’s customer service representatives,” says Lara Ponomareff, customer contact practice leader, CEB, a best practice insight and technology company. “So it’s critical that reps are trained and trusted to be problem solvers, not just call takers.

“Train service reps to actively listen to customers and ask questions,” she says. “That allows them to gain critical context for a customer’s query or problem and create more tailored solutions for the customer. By listening, the rep gains the insight needed to make customers feel that their problems are being resolved. Rep training can be a real value-add and strong customer retention strategy.”

9. Have your sales, marketing and customer service departments share customer data.

“While it can take time to create a shared repository of data between sales and marketing [and customer service], you’ll gain the ability to understand your customer’s actions and preferences better than ever before [if you do],” says Swann.

10. Be mobile.

“Implement customer support software that can be accessed across multiple devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to enable mobile support anywhere there is an internet connection,” says Robert C. Johnson, CEO, TeamSupport, a provider of B2B customer support and help desk software. “This mobility enables teams to respond quickly.”

11. Follow up with customers.

“Follow-up is key to building a lasting customer relationship, and it doesn’t have to be a hassle,” says Mask. “Automating customer follow-up can deepen a customer relationship by allowing you to send timely and relevant information to the right people while you stay focused on running your business.”

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff

Read the original blog entry…

Contact Us If you want learn more about customized CRM solutions.

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digitalshutterstock_197353490-2-660x400How the public sector been achieving digital transformation? (Infographic)

How the public sector been achieving digital transformation? (Infographic)

This infographic presents the findings of a new national survey that sought to answer. “How successful has the public sector been in achieving digital transformation?” The survey was conducted among more than 200 professionals, half of whom are working in local government.

From top ranking goals to most challenging hurdles, it reveals the most common pain points but also some striking differences in what progress the public sector as a whole is making towards digital transformation.


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wordpress-cms-1200-1024x4924 Challenges to Tackle When Selecting a Content Management System

4 Challenges to Tackle When Selecting a Content Management System

Here are four of the most common challenges we hear from our clients who want to migrate to a new CMS.


1. No User Input in Buying Decisions

Enterprise software is often bought by individuals that won’t actually be utilizing the system on a day-to-day basis. Management and upper-level IT of course need to examine different vendors and be in charge of procurement, but in-depth user involvement is critical too. Many CMS platforms lag behind in terms of the user experience, whether it’s an outdated interface or there’s simply too many steps to go from A to B. You also need to consider who your primary users are – will your marketing team be responsible for website updates or will you have a dedicated website developer? These are very important factors when selecting the right solution.

Ask groups of likely power users from various departments to demo the prospective solution first to ensure it will help them get work done quickly and most importantly improve the customer journey. If the users aren’t excited about the solution then they won’t passionately develop strong website content and the customer experience will suffer.

2. Poorly Designed Authoring Tools

The standard authoring tools with a CMS solution are simply “standard.” They won’t fit a user’s exact needs in terms of how they need content to appear and the relationships they might have with other staff members or partners. In order to develop a company with a rich library of engaging multi-faceted content, there needs to be an advanced (yet simple) CMS solution in place that can be personalized to meet different content styles and structures. Some companies may decide to work with an IT consulting firm to customize their tool to suit their user needs. Websites won’t be rich and multi-layered if the process of entering content is not custom built for each individual user.

3. Inadequate Training Causes Bottlenecks

The introduction of a CMS solution poses challenges for staff members that are entrenched with outdated content procedures. Their hesitancy to use the new system cannot be overcome without engaging and context-driven training. They not only need to understand “how” the system works but demand answers to the “why” questions about how it makes their daily work easier and how the end customer will benefit. Poor training can cause dips in adoption rates, and even abandonment of the solution entirely.

Training should provide narrow user-based context as well as broader context into the role of the CMS solution to the company as a whole. This is critical for building buy-in among users, so they understand the interconnectedness of content and customers with revenue, sales, and long-term raises/bonuses.

4. Not Integrating well with Ecommerce

We frequently discuss the importance of the “customer experience” and how satisfied customers largely determine a company’s success. Much of this experience can be molded through delivery of engaging and informative content. For ecommerce players, this means finding a way to introduce seamless and personalized content within the ecommerce platform.

Ecommerce companies need to move beyond static pages and simply handling a catalog of product information, and introduce more dynamic content. Accomplishing this requires a seamless interaction between the CMS (for example an advanced solution such as SharePoint), and the ecommerce platform.

Overcoming these challenges is tricky, and that’s why many companies need a helping hand. A qualified IT consultant can guide you on not only picking the right solution, but developing a content strategy, conducting training, and ensuring broad CMS adoption.

By Annie Bustos

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Contact Us If you want learn how to choose the right CMS.


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454399125-100356564-primary.idge3 Approaches to Building Mobile Apps

3 Approaches to Building Mobile Apps

If you’re up in the air about how to build your mobile app, it helps to narrow it down to three options:

  1. Developing native, directly for iOS or Android
  2. A mobile-optimized development tool
  3. Some sort of hybrid approach

Here’s an overview of some advantages of the first option over the others.

When to Develop Native

The world of app development involves more than iOS or Android, but those two comprise 97 percent of the smartphone OS market. Developing native makes the most sense in one or both of those worlds.

Optimal Experience

When customer experience is paramount, nothing beats native. Apps built within the official app guidelines and within the proper ecosystem have a distinctive look and feel shared by all native apps. Typically, users will register this as a responsive, high-quality, intuitive app experience. You are also able to directly use any of the peculiar affordances of the device, such as the camera or the GPS, whereas in other approaches you may have indirect access through a variety of plug-ins.

App Store Placement

Some developers say that the biggest benefit is getting placed in the app store of the respective OS. Native apps will automatically be considered for inclusion on the app store. If you are using some other mechanism than native apps, then developers need to ensure that the output will produce an artifact which the app store will consider for approval.

After all, if you can’t be found in the app store, you’re basically wasting your time since it will be much more difficult for your potential audience to find your app if they have to go to some other source to find it, and it will take a lot more time, money, and effort to educate your potential audience about where to find your app. This may not be as much of big issue if your app is intended only for a private audience, such as a company’s internal stakeholders only, for which they may operate a private enterprise app store, vs. the general public.

The counter argument is that the app store is no replacement for marketing. Regardless, you have to get out there and promote it no matter where users go to download it. Unless it’s immediately popular, it could easily get buried amid all the other apps. The whole art of mobile app marketing and user acquisition, engagement, and retention is an entire subject unto itself, usually referred to as Mobile Growth. You can look for meetups in your area or entire conferences which are dedicated to the tools and techniques for acquiring and growing your app user base.

Regardless of your app store or mobile growth strategy, it won’t matter how many people download your app, all of your efforts for engagement, retention, UI/UX design, A/B testing etc. will be completely moot if the app doesn’t perform well. There are innumerable studies showing that consumers will delete or abandon an app/brand due to a single poor mobile experience, and app performance is one of the single largest contributors to the consumer’s experience of the app.

Ultra-Fast Graphics

Another differentiator where native apps excel is if your app depends on ultra-fast graphics. If you are creating a static, information-rich app, it won’t matter. On the other hand, native does better at handling animation and rapid refresh rates. On Android, in particular, you can program directly at the operating system layer using the NDK (native development kit) in conjunction with your Java Android app. You need native if you intend to have fluid access to high-level components like the camera and geolocation.

The biggest costs derive from the development time and the fact that you are tied to the OS. When it’s time to scale up and expand to another OS, you have to start all over again.


Security is the second most quoted reason for going with native. The more moving parts, the more holes there are for cybercriminals to exploit. For the security of your native app, pay attention to the most common attack vectors that seek out weak SSL, unprotected data storage and areas where malware can deliver code injection. Also, make sure that you stay on top of the latest updates from the platform vendors, which frequently include security patches for vulnerabilities that have been identified. In some cases, your app may actually be removed from the store if it hasn’t been updated to include the latest fixes.

If your team has chosen to go native, your next decision is whether to start with iOS or Android. Here are a few considerations:

When to Go iOS Native

Apple continues to come in second in mobile market share, but the iOS app revenues are enormous. Depending on who you talk to, developers chalk it up to better quality or better branding. Strong engagement with loyal Apple users is certainly one of the top reasons to develop an iOS native app. In any case, the truth of the matter is that94% of US app store revenue goes to the top 1% of monetizing publishers. Many developers say that the biggest benefit of iOS is a lower degree of fragmentation. You’re dealing with one manufacturer, instead of the wide range of different hardware types on Android. But even Apple now has devices in the market which can no longer run the latest versions of iOS, so you will have to make determinations if you will only support the latest devices and cease updating your app for older devices.

When to Go Android Native

Android is where many developers start due to the relative ease of working in Java. More importantly for most companies, Android has the largest user base around the world, not only in developed economies, but especially in developing countries where the much lower cost of Android handsets makes them much more attainable. This is particularly true in the largest growing market of China where there are also many local domestic Android handset OEMs.

If you are looking to expand to new markets and other countries, Android will get you much broader reach. And while each individual Android user may not monetise as highly as iOS, many strategies are linked to having a larger audience at lower ARPU.  If you’re going to go to Chrome OS in the future, Android is the logical place to start since Google is making it possible to run Android apps on Chromebooks. Even Microsoft is getting on the Android bandwagon with its acquisition of Xamarin, which can output Android apps (though not native).

When to Use a Hybrid-Native Mobile-Optimized Development Tool

When mobile was young, development tools that worked across platforms were the way to go. These tools became the preferred platforms for developers when skills were scarce for native programming. There was (and still is) intense pressure to get to market quickly and teams could use these tools to support both platforms from a single code base and development environment. These mobile-optimized tools helped developers collapse the learning curve and incorporate features and functionalities from other popular apps as they only had to learn one IDE but could create native apps for both major mobile OSs.

Today, these platforms are still popular for beginners who may be intimidated by trying to learn native development in Swift or Java and companies using a single dev team to support both iOS and Android or whose developers have existing programming and development skill sets that they are leveraging for mobile development. Here are a few of the most prevalent mobile-optimized tools on the market now:

1. PhoneGap

 Adobe acquired this powerful, enterprise-level development tool a few years ago and it has flourished. Adobe also donated the open source project called Cordova to the Apache project where it continues to be developed and maintained with committers and contributors from both Adobe and many other companies. Both beginners and experienced web development professionals tend to love it because you can start from basic HTML and Javascript. Also, if you use the Cordova open source version, it is entirely free, but you also have the option to get advance for fee features with the Adobe version, which will appeal to many enterprises.

This technology essentially allows you to embed HTML5 apps in native containers, and it even includes plug-ins that allow you to access native affordances like cameras, gps etc. from javascript code. The main advantage of this approach is that it allows develops with skills in web applications to become mobile application develops. Many companies have web development teams that can now extend their capabilities to develop mobile applications. For many people, it’s also much simpler to learn HTML5, CSS, and Javascript than it is to learn a native IDE like xCode and Android studio and their respective programming languages.

There are also many projects such as Monaca that have developed entire UI/UX libraries that very closely resemble native design guidelines like Material Design, so that apps built using it look for all intents and purposes indistinguishable from native applications. Even more importantly, the ability to use the styling properties of CSS it makes possible to quickly and easily change the look and feel of these apps.

Of course, one of the disadvantages of this approach is that it relies upon having a web container embedded in a native wrapper. The embedded web container does not have any of the chrome of a stand alone web browser (which is why it can look like a native app), but it also doesn’t support the standard web timing and navigation APIs defined by the W3C, so it becomes much more difficult to monitor the performance of the app. The web container also can add significant overhead and may limit the ability of the app to work off-line without significant effort to use local storage.

2. Appcelerator Titanium

Over the years, Appcelerator has added capabilities like cloud services, mobile back-end as a service, a vast library of extensions, support for Node.js and crash analytics. Developers from all over can come together and work in the most popular languages, including HTML, PHP, JavaScript, Ruby and Python. Developers tend to love it or hate it, to the point where it has broken up application teams.

3. Kony

This is another one that’s been around for nearly a decade and has seen the app market flip from B2C to B2E. Kony is a good rough and ready system that always seems to be one step ahead of technology. Kony seems to be particularly useful to companies that can’t or don’t want to have dedicated native app development teams.

4. Xamarin

Nobody can say Microsoft isn’t trying. They seem to have turned on a dime from advocating for Windows Phone to pushing a cross platform app development IDE. Part of that strategy involved acquiring this independent app development environment which is based on the open source Mono project, though there has always been close collaboration with Microsoft over the years. It’s a good platform to help developers learn C# for native iOS or Android. Microsoft is still the standard in many large corporate environments and those types of companies tend to have internal developers who are skilled in using Visual Studio and .NET to develop both internal corporate apps and external customer facing applications.

Xamarin makes it possible for these types of developers to use their existing skill sets to develop mobile applications for the most common smartphone platforms. This is particular important since in many large enterprises, employees had already adopted these devices for their personal use, so it was not practical to mandate use of Windows Phone devices, which, in the end, Microsoft is now de-emphasizing with its recent write-offs in its phone hardware divisions. Given the tiny market share of Windows Phone devices, these companies were also hard pressed to produce apps iOS and Android, and they needed a way to do that with their existing teams and skill sets.

In the meantime, it gives you a clear cut, interactive dashboard with real-time metrics for the most common app KPIs, though there can still be some bugs, such as the problem with the way Xamarin wraps NSProxy. This can cause an issue if you want to monitor the performance of an iOS app produced using Xamarin, since you need to wrap the NSURLSessionDataDelegate in order to interpose on delegate operations so that its usage can be monitored.

When to Go With a Hybrid

More developers have turned to hybrid options over the past few years just to keep up with customer expectations. B2E moves fast and competition is fierce, so companies feel pressured to generate the user experience of a native app, but with the shorter development times and pre-built components of a mobile-optimized platform.

1. Ionic

Whenever developers mention hybrid, Ionic usually comes up among the top hybrid options. Some teams start out by building a CSS framework with the SASS extension language to contain the native look and feel. It’s built on HTML5, and AnjularJS is emerging as the go-to way to drive app features. The next gen Ionic will have drag-and-drop programming capabilities, so expect a flood of new developers to try it out. The community of Ionic developers is already strong and helpful.

2. React Native

Many developers have said that React Native is the closest thing to working in native, but with the addition of a framework and active support community. It was put together by Facebook developers, so the development itself is done entirely with a combination of React and Javascript. You have to come in with plenty ofJavascript experience and know how to solve common app development issues around containers and APIs. On the other hand, if you want to build an app on both iOS and Android at the same time, and want performance that is close to native, this is a very useful tool.

It is somewhat ironic that this approach has come out of Facebook, since Facebook itself very publicly and spectacularly made a complete architecture switch from a hybrid native approach several years ago to fully native apps, and the main justification for making the switch was improved performance which resulted in very significant improvements in key business outcome KPIS such a the time spent in app, number of photos being uploaded etc. which are critical measures for Facebook that have a very direct influence on their bottom line which is dependent on selling ads.

There was much debate and discussion in the technical community at the time about whether or not Facebook’s hybrid implementation was the problem, and not the architecture choice itself. For example, some argued that Facebook had essentially just been cramming it’s website into a native container rather than explicitly programming it as a native/hybrid app from the ground up.

Of course, very, very few companies have the scale of a Facebook both in terms of the number of users (wouldn’t we all love to have the problem of a billion plus MAUs?) and the amount of the content being run through the app, so any performance hit from taking a hybrid approach is much less likely.

3. Mobile AngularUI

This is one of the new advanced hybrids. Mobile AngularUI is ideal for enterprise-level developers who are comfortable with Bootstrap 3 and AngularJS modules. However, it also has built-in mobile components like switches and overlays that aren’t in Bootstrap 3. If you’re not a fan of jQuery, this hybrid bypasses it for libraries like fastclick.js.

Summing Up

Native development in iOS or Android (or both) makes the most sense to take full advantage of the native capabilities and if you have development teams that are experienced in the native IDEs or you have hired a third party development house that can do the same. Mobile-optimized platforms like Appcelerator Titanium and native-hybrid Phonegap are best for single environment development teams and when devs don’t have the skill sets or inclination to learn Java and Swift. However, a hybrid approach using technologies like HTML5 can run the risk of making it harder to monitor the performance of your application, especially once it is in production. It can be a fast way to get a minimum viable product on both Android and iOS especially by leveraging existing skill sets from the web or other programming languages.

Regardless of what approach you take, it is imperative to monitor the performance of your app once it goes into production, so you can then iteratively upgrade and refine the app based on metrics and user feedback. It may be tempting to just rely on app store ratings and reviews to get feedback from your users on problems, bugs, crashes etc., but by that time it may already be too late if the user has deleted the app due to a poor performance experience. More over the poor ratings and reviews are public and may negatively influence other new users from even trying the app.

Consequently, no matter what approach you take, it is absolutely imperative that you have a strategy and plan for monitoring the performance of your app in real time.

We’d love to hear which route your dev team chose in the end and what were the deciding factors. If you used a mobile-optimized platform or a hybrid that wasn’t listed here, let us know in the comments what you found and how it worked out. Similarly, let us know about your experience in monitoring the performance of your application, and if you haven’t started yet, then get in touch so we can help you get going.

By Peter Kacandes

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