Ask the Experts

Ask the experts: Should my small business develop a mobile app?

CorrespondentJuly 29, 2013 

Josh Oakhurst is the creative director for Skookum Digital Works, a custom software business in Charlotte.

COURTESY SKOOKUM DIGITAL WORKS

  • Need advice?

    Do you need expert advice on a small-business issue? If so, let us know. Email Shop Talk Editor Jessaca Giglio at jmgiglio@newsobserver.com.

Going for a tailor-made app is a choice more entrepreneurs and small businesses are making as a way to raise their profile, boost sales and get their services in the hands of more users.

But there are also several good reasons for a business not to consider a mobile app, most importantly if the only impetus is the CEO received an iPad for Christmas.

While mobile apps can greatly increase a business’s efficiency or generate more profits, business leaders need to first think about how a mobile app would integrate with their work.

“There’s no sense in writing a mobile app until you understand what the business’ needs are,” said Josh Oakhurst, creative director for Skookum Digital Works, a custom software business in Charlotte.

“Any business considering a mobile app needs to really have a good reason for wanting one.”

Mobile apps are not just for customers. An increasing number of businesses are employing mobile technology for in-house applications such making information and communication more accessible for employees in the field.

When properly integrated with a business, mobile apps can significantly improve employees’ jobs.

Mobile apps, which can be customized, can help employees do everything from approve invoices to track mileage.

The Electric Power Research Institute, a not-for-profit organization that conducts research on issues related to the power industry, recently worked with Skookum Digital Works in developing a mobile app for welders who work on power plants.

EPRI, which has an office in Charlotte, issues 100-plus page reports on its findings, which typically are kept on a shelf in an office or on a computer.

Skookum Digital Works has built mobile apps that have digitized 25 years of research, and it has put software on a iPad so employees could access it in the field rather than returning to an office to work on a computer.

“We have given employees two or three hours of their day back,” Oakhurst said.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service