Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Mobile Apps - What’s the cost of free ?

Mobile Apps - What’s the cost of free ?

At some point everyone has to compete with ‘free’.  I’ve recently come up against this and it is surprising how many customers hear the word ‘free’ and forget to check out the small print and all the repercussions.

So what makes the customer believe they have an option that is ‘free’?  I’ve listed a few possible scenarios.

1 – “The licences are free” 

This turns out to be a total misunderstanding, in fact the licences are far from free, but what they do have are existing licences that would cover this application, but there is still annual support and maintenance to be paid, and at a typical 18-22% this is no small amount.
There is also the dreaded small print – what exactly are you signing up to?  How long is it ‘free’ for?  What happens after Year1 – are you locked in regardless of any increase in costs?  This could be an expensive mistake.

2 – “We plan to take the application and deploy it as is, so there are no project costs” – 

This is a sure fire way to have the project fail, and potentially bring the company to its knee’s as key sales and support users are unable to use the new application.
            Additional costs come from all directions

(a)   Technical and functional consultants to correctly implement and extend the OOTB solution
(b)   Infrastructure and security architects to design a deployable mobile solution
(c)   Re-writing and developing new training material
(d)   Rolling out user training
(e)   New hardware and MDM system for the mobile solutions
(f)   Training for Operations and Support to allow them to deploy and support the new application.
(g)   Deploying and supporting the new application, hardware and MDM systems

3 – “The free solution isn’t perfect, but its ‘good enough’”.  

We have been recently deploying a number of Mobile Sales solutions and its pretty obvious that in this area ‘good enough’ rarely cuts it with the end user.  The User Adoption rates for mobile solution needs to be almost vertical, otherwise the device is put on a shelf and forgotten about, and it’s then almost impossible to re-invigorate the user base, leaving IT to support costly legacy solutions, as well as the new applications.

A few key things on user adoption come to mind for a mobile solution

(a)   Usability – It has to be current, visually appealing and easy to use.  In sales for example we are seeing sales reps, sitting with their customer using the mobile solution to take them through the product catalog, the quote, the configuration – this is no longer an internal facing application.
(b)   Process centric – It needs to be easy and intuitive to do the tasks that the user has to do day in, day out.
(c)   One for all – It needs to be one app that covers all the aspects of the users job, and that typically involves access to information from a multitude of back-end systems.
(d)   It has to be a ‘useful’ tool – not just a way for management to track the number of calls made or meetings organised. Intelligent analytics are a key way to feedback to the user as to where to spend their time to be most productive.

So let me quickly recap on those potential costs

·      Licence fees
·      Maintenance fees
·      Implementation costs
·      Training costs
·      Deployment costs
·      Support costs
·      Cost of potential future tie-ins
·      Cost of failure – due to poor user adoption

So, as you can see a free licence fee is far from it when the total project is scoped out, and it’s typically only a small part of the whole project. 

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