The smartphone has revolutionized the way users consume content and interact with the services. The question as to whether a business using technology as a means to reach users should have a presence on a mobile phone is no longer relevant. The answer is a definite yes.
Wednesday has been building mobile applications for a decade. We often get asked the same questions - should we build a mobile-only product? What framework should we use to build our mobile app? Should we create a universal style guide?
Note: This article is intended for product managers and tech leads. Their decisions have a big impact on business strategy and product development. This article will help create a framework to choose the strategy for the business.
Let's think about this for a second. In 2016 Tim Cook announced that the app store had over 2 million apps which in its previous year was at 1.5 million. Fast forward to 2020 with a compounded growth rate of ~10% we are around the 3 million mark. With a similar number on the Android PlayStore.
To expect a user to find your app, select install, then enter a password, wait, and then wait some more for the app to start is madness. Attention spans are reducing by the day and people want to use the product this instant.
As product managers and tech leads your decisions could be biased. What are competitors doing? What product strategies have worked in the past? These experiences influence your decision. Don't get me wrong, experience is good. When you pick a strategy it pays to know what the potential pitfalls are so you can avoid them. But the question is what product strategy to pick?
A systematic approach to estimating the strengths and weaknesses of each strategy by measuring the underlying profitability can help. The best way to do this is a cost benefit analysis (CBA). Let's consider the following scenario:
X is a product manager at a large insurance company. She is tasked to reduce the number of enquiries about premium dues dates.
There are many other product strategies, indirect/intangible costs, and benefits that should be considered. Also while doing the exercise try and assign a currency value to each benefit and cost. If you look at the above the obvious answer would be to build the WhatsApp chatbot. This only happens when the product lead takes an unbiased view and explores alternatives to making an app.
The product team has decided, and all stakeholders have agreed. The verdict is out, we're building a mobile app. YAY! As a tech lead the decision on what product development strategy to pick is now in your hands. Should you build separate native apps for iOS and Android? Or build hybrid applications using frameworks like React Native and Flutter? Or build a Progressive Web Application? You need a framework to help you decide.
Note: if you're new to a team and aren't aware of their strengths and weaknesses don't use this. Seek the help of another lead who has worked with the team before. There are a lot of intangibles that you need answers to such as how quickly can your team learn a new programming language? Don't try and force an approach down your team without understanding how much change is okay.
There are 4 product development strategies:
Digital transformation is a never-ending journey. Product managers need to keep up with consumption trends to provide users with value. Chatbots and super apps are gaining more popularity and users go to them for everything they need. Maybe a product strategy would be to partner with them? What ever the case take a decision only when you're aware of all possible strategies.
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