Mobile apps: Brand enhancer, business tool or waste of time?

GartnerLogoIdentifying value in mobile apps

Not every mobile app is worth building, says Gartner research director Richard Marshall – and investing in the wrong app can waste resources and damage brands.

“There is an app frenzy at the moment that’s leading many companies to rush into building apps because they feel they have to be on trend,” says Marshall, who will present several talks and workshops on mobility at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Africa in September. “But if an app is going to succeed, there must be a good reason for it to exist, and for people to download and use it.”

For example, he says, “it might seem like a great idea for an insurance company to release an app that their customers can use after a car accident, to record all the information they need. But nobody ever plans to have an accident – so who’ll download an app to help them manage one?”

Apps that will be used seldom or never are not worth building, he says. “In many cases a mobile web site will do the job more effectively and cost a lot less. Apps are an expensive investment and they need constant maintenance and tuning if they’re to work properly on multiple smartphone platforms.”

Companies need to take a systematic approach to identifying useful app opportunities and calculating the likely ROI, says Marshall – and to broaden their focus beyond consumer-facing apps.

Sales force automation is one area where a well-designed mobile app can deliver solid commercial returns, he returns. “Cadbury South Africa increased their van sales by 450% in six months by giving drivers an app that enabled them to check inventory and pricing in real time, process orders and print instant invoices.”

“Apps can deliver real business value,” he says. “But they must be well planned and executed, and properly maintained and updated.”

Marshall will present a session at the Symposium on calculating app ROI, as well as a workshop on how to identify the business processes that are the best candidates for mobilisation.

For more about Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Africa, to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 16 – 18 September, visit

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is a valuable partner to 60,000 clients in 11,500 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 4,500 associates, including 1,250 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit


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Gillian George
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