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This article was published on June 21, 2016

7 ways custom apps make you more productive

7 ways custom apps make you more productive Image by: Apple / Twitter
William Watterson
Story by

William Watterson

Billy lives in Providence Rhode Island where by day he runs Beat the Streets Providence - a 501c3 starting scholastic wrestling teams in ord Billy lives in Providence Rhode Island where by day he runs Beat the Streets Providence - a 501c3 starting scholastic wrestling teams in order to inspire at-risk youth - and by night he is a freelance journalist and fiction writer. In his free time Billy enjoys playing the ukulele badly, fishing, backpacking, climbing, surfing (again badly), and pretending he is alternatively Indiana Jones and/or a Jedi.

I use apps for everything.

Maybe it’s the millennial blood coursing through my veins  or a general desire to accomplish as much as possible while doing as little as humanly possible, but when I want to accomplish a task or do something more effectively I go searching in the app store.

Most of the time I can find what I’m looking for – whether it’s an app to meditate, find a girlfriend (or at least try), or share cute puppy photos.

On the other hand, nothing pisses me off more than when I can’t find an app that does exactly what I want, or worse, I find an app that purports to do the thing that I want, but which does so absolutely horribly.

These problems are made significantly worse when it comes to business. Even the best app is not necessarily the best app for every business, as each business has unique processes and needs.

What a business really needs is a custom application designed for its business. In the past this has often been prohibitively time consuming, difficult, and expensive – requiring an in-house team, an expensive contractor, or incredibly generous friends with a talent for app development. The cost and difficulty of these options has left most businesses stuck with the next best thing: A third party application the company settles on.

Luckily that’s all changing: We now have apps to create apps. Like Skynet in the Terminator we can continue to make our businesses better and better with little-to-no outside interference and soon will be able to kill and enslave all the third party apps which we once called master. As a result the world is quickly becoming any business’s digital oyster.

While maybe not enabling you to search and destroy your competition, businesses can create apps suited for the company and its customers’ specific needs. There are a number of reasons why a custom application is better for businesses than a regular old application. Here is not one, or even two, but seven of them:

Number 1: Less deployment, more sanity

Gone are the days of the never ending loading bar – the bane of all productivity and the cause of so many chewed finger nails. Where in the past new applications needed to be painstakingly and individually installed across businesses, today employees across a business can access applications almost instantaneously through cloud technology.

Custom applications on the cloud are live and running even as you create and edit them. As a result, cloud platforms eliminate the need to deploy your applications, saving infrastructure costs, decreasing time lost to the tedious task of installation, and most important protecting employee sanity and decreasing the cost of office space-esq employee melt downs.

Number 2: Scale your data like a champ

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 14.11.33
What sounds better: “Data Center” or “The Cloud”?

The cloud is, I think, the obvious answer. Data center sounds about as much fun as chewing on a pack of extra sharp razor blades. The cloud on the other hand sounds downright magical… and well, it kind of is.

We live in the age of big data. Increasingly businesses are using and storing vast and increasing amounts of data. This can be expensive, but with cloud storage business owners can save significantly and scale their data storage without scaling the physical size of their business.

Number 3: Don’t lose your data and don’t lose your customers

In the age of Snowden, cyber-warfare, and cyber-insecurity, protecting data is crucial to the success of any business. According to the Ponemon Institute in 2010 criminal data breaches on average cost victim companies $318 per compromised record. That cost is often crippling to a small business and extremely damaging to larger businesses which have been hacked such as Yahoo and Target.

Many data breaches occur simply because of human error resulting in improper network setup or failure to upgrade leaving precious data vulnerable. When your applications are hosted on the cloud – as in the case of custom applications – you don’t have to worry about server setups or regular upgrades to keep your data secure. As a result, the risk of losing your data is significantly lower and so is the risk of losing your most valuable customers.

Number 4: Go mobile or go home

The desktop is quickly going the way of the dinosaur and so are businesses that can’t go mobile. Customers are adopting mobile devices at a record rate and increasingly making purchases on their mobile devices – mobile now accounts for 50.3 percent of all e-commerce traffic. At the same time so is the workforce, with 96.2 million mobile workers – and growing – making up 60 percent  of our workforce.

When businesses create a custom application on platforms like Zoho Creator their apps will automatically be enabled for mobile and ready for use by mobile teams. This means no time wasted rebuilding applications for different devices and no capital wasted buying a ton of different applications that then need to be optimized for different devices. On a mobile optimized custom application, teams can work from any device, at any time of the day, whether in the office, traveling, or at home.

Number 5: Integration = Efficiency

The Borg on Star Trek got a bad rep – they probably would have been great employees. Why? Because the Borg – an evil cyborg hive mind, for non-trekkie readers –were integrated as f*** and integration means better communication and less wasted time.

Because there is an app for everything – or almost everything – naturally businesses use many, probably too many, third party services to keep the lights on. There are apps for employee communication, project management, invoicing, accounting, customer relations management, file sharing, inventory management, expense management, and everything else under the sun.

An employee’s workday may include 10 different tabs and three different browsers. This means more time spent switching from one application to another and less time actually working and communicating with co-workers. Wasted time, wasted efficiency, and wasted dollars. With a platform like Creator, businesses can make all of their services speak to one another, in one place, and in one application.

Number 6: $$$$$$$$$$$

Who doesn’t like saving money? As much as we’d like to all be Santa Claus just giving out free s*** all the time, some of us have to bring home the bacon. That can be hard when you are shelling out every hard earned dollar for the latest expensive software which may or may not help you to keep your business running effectively.

Luckily, custom applications not only allow you to save money by driving employee efficiency and buying less applications, but with a custom application you also don’t have to spend all your money right away. This is because these platforms are both more affordable than packaged software and, more important, let you pay only for what you use rather than paying for a large suite of products of which you only use a few.

So by using a custom application you can save and spend your resources in a more efficient way.

Number 7: Cross-collaboration

mario luigi cross collaboration
I’ve always wondered what life would have been like if Mario and Luigi could have collaborated. Instead of only one brightly colored hero venturing through a land of delicious magic mushrooms and dangerous walking heads they could have done it as a team.

At the very least, even if they were going to do the levels alone, in an ideal world they could have at least shared reports about where the best mushrooms were hidden, data on Bowser’s weaknesses, and where those darn walking heads were hiding. However, sharing resources when one intrepid hero is venturing through a pipe into a dangerous underground lair and the other is hanging with Wario eating magic mushrooms on Chocolate Island can be very challenging.

What Mario and Luigi needed was a custom application.

Custom applications are designed out of the box for cross-collaboration. In an increasingly mobile world it no longer makes sense for businesses, or video game characters, to have their entire team pooled into a single meeting room to discuss reports and make decisions. That’s wasted time that could be spent making sales, generating leads, and creating new products. With a custom application, employees across the world and across departments can add, update, retrieve data, or share reports instantaneously.

everything is awesome
In summary… custom applications are awesome.