Recent studies and surveys have concluded that this is the year of the web app. With statistics showing that one million smartphones will be purchased in 2013, web apps have reached the point where businesses can no longer afford to ignore them. According to a recent AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, 72 percent of the small businesses surveyed said they used a web app in their business. Even more striking, nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said their business most likely would not survive — or would be greatly challenged — without web apps. Not only is the app here to stay but it also offers very compelling benefits to businesses.
Why have web apps become so important? At a high level the growth of applications is driven by the same factors driving IT and business process change; namely the need to be more responsive to customers and to changes in operating environments, to optimise the efficiency of staff resources and to shorten the cycle time of key processes throughout their value chain.
The growth of applications is underpinned by the evolution of the Internet, the ubiquity of communication networks and the explosive growth of portable devices and home entertainment systems. As bandwidth availability has grown and the quality of service improved, more cost effective connectivity has increased adoption and reach. Back when there was one dominant operating system and web browser, things were a lot simpler. Today there are several operating systems on desktop and mobile, as well as a multitude of ever updating web browsers. Consumers are also accessing content across multiple devices including the desktop, mobile, Internet-enabled TVs and others. Fifteen percent of U.S. consumers are already using four or more computing devices in an average week. Meeting user interaction expectations will be an ongoing hurdle for businesses, who must optimize for multiple platforms and browsers and provide interoperability for many different devices to ensure a consistent user experience.
There is no installation or maintenance involved with web apps. Web applications run on the web servers, so there is no need to install them unlike the desktop applications. It lives in a virtual cloud in the Internet and this means that whenever you launch it, it always has the latest version. Ajax has made it possible to deliver Desktop-like look & feel, and functionality, with no loss of performance. The frustration of maintenance, troubleshooting, taking of backups on disk spaces and time and trouble required for installing a software are also done away with. In addition, updates are seamless. Instead of having to patch each and every individual user, the patches/upgrades are applied to the server and each user received the updated version the next time they log in. The more enjoyment the user receives in using your business app, the better the relationship is with your customers. This can translate into higher sales and revenue.
Web apps can transform the way your business operates internally as employees become less bound by their desktop systems. Cloud computing has fundamentally changed the way we work and support a strong trend emerging whereby people choose to work where they are most productive. The concept of the ‘office’ is changing as people subscribe to the idea of a ‘virtual office’, an environment where individuals and teams can be creative, collaborate and work where and when it suits them best. This new way of working necessitates sophisticated yet simple technologies that support, rather than hinder, the emergence of new ideas.
The evidence is clear; web apps are the way forward and businesses must acknowledge their increasing interdependence on the Internet itself, and constantly monitor, evaluate and optimize every element between the data center and the end user. In order for businesses to gain a head start on their competitors they need to embrace this technological development, in turn making their operations more efficient whilst at the same time improving employee productivity and creativity.