July 30, 2013

Delivering Local Content Using Mobile Apps

#technology #mobile #internet #development

Mobile technology has grown and evolved dramatically in the last few years. Improvements in the technology, easier to use devices, falling handset prices, and increasing availability and affordability of mobile Internet service, have opened the market well beyond its initial high-end business user audience.

Today, consumers use their mobile phones less like simple call and text devices and more like pocketable computers. Mobile users have access to a range of options to satisfy their cravings for instant access to the information, products and services they want. From checking email and surfing the Internet, to bank transactions, games and music, users are using their mobile devices to access a range of services via mobile apps.

Local Content Matters

Technology allows us to participate in global society and enjoy experiences beyond our geographic boundaries, but we live in a local context. Mobile users the world over value information that can lead to an in-person, physical transaction. They desire access to content on their mobile devices that is relevant to their local needs. Local mobile users need local content.

Local content is any expression or communication of a community's locally generated, owned and adapted knowledge and experience. The ubiquity and uniquely personal nature of mobile devices present a specific and tremendous opportunity for local businesses to create local content through mobile apps. But the opportunity is not just for businesses; governments and education institutions can also provide value to target markets by delivering content specifically created for mobile devices.

Mobile users want menus from their favorite restaurant and maps providing directions to get there. They want listings of plumbers, repairmen and mechanics with reviews from their friends and peers. They want to book or adjust appointments with local doctors, dentists and other service providers. They want to be notified automatically when a car service is completed, when money is deposited into their account or their passport is ready for collection. They want to do all this on the go, using a device that is always with them and, increasingly, always online.

Socio-Economic Incentives

There is also an economic imperative to providing mobile apps for local services. It is known that technology can be used to boost economic development in the areas of wealth and job creation. However, a 2012 study by the UN Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also proved the link between local content and economic growth. As the volume of local content increases, the Internet becomes more relevant and has a greater impact on improving the lives of local communities. This gives more people an incentive to go online. More people online accessing local content and services, creates tangible economic value. Since mobile devices are now one of the most significant gateways to the Internet, more local mobile apps translate into more local economic transitions.

In other words, the development of local mobile apps for local businesses, using local talent leads to the expansion of the local mobile economy. Developing mobile apps requires people with skills such as content creation and multimedia design. It also requires expansion of physical infrastructure which in turn requires engineers, technicians and a supporting cast of marketers, advertisers and entrepreneurs. This "mobile ecosystem" can be a real boon to any economy.

Mobile apps can also be used to spur social development in the areas of civic awareness, cultural preservation and social services delivery. Businesses, governments and Internet service providers all have a social responsibility and an economic incentive to encourage and support the development of local digital content development.

Business Opportunities

Mobile apps offer businesses a powerful platform to meet a range of strategic objectives, such as promoting products, earning revenue, engaging customers, and delivering products and services directly to users. That's why mobile apps are such an attractive proposition to businesses around the world.

Some businesses hesitate to invest in mobile apps, considering the cost factor to be prohibitive. This would be a simplistic and myopic conclusion. Mobile app development does require financing, skilled engineers, dedicated marketers, and time. However, it is much like any business development undertaking. The costs depend on the scope, the complexity of the task and the quality and competence of the team you assign. If you properly define your requirements and plan your mobile app design and marketing strategy in advance of the actual app development process, your business will reap rewards.

Local Value

Mobile apps are now integral part of modern business and the modern economy. There is an abundance of local content in the offline world that can be adapted for the many mobile devices out there. Today's mobile users have a tremendous appetite for that content as it makes their devices more relevant to their lives. Users need local content, delivered through locally produced apps, running on local networks and creating real local value.

Large and small organizations the world over are benefiting and profiting from developing mobile apps. So, why not our local businesses? Why not our local developers? Why not now?