The bar for being able to afford a mobile application design continues to lower, with mobile platforms, like Red e App, ShopText, and Why Wait for service messaging. A newcomer to what is often called the social CRM space, the founder of Louisville, Ky.-based Rede App contends that CIOs and IT managers are being pushed to embrace mobile interfaces for a variety of audiences that deliver on customer engagement. "Engagement is about trust, it's about attention, It is the lobby of selling that welcomes people in, makes them feel comfortable-where trust is established," said Jonathan Erwin, founder of Red e App and former VP of Sales and Marketing for Hosting.com, a U.S.-based cloud and hosted infrastructure company.
While Red e App has a model that appeals to all types of businesses and organizations, several other mobile app newcomers are focused on a segmentation approach, either by vertical or by messaging style. Why Wait, operating out of an office at the Western Kentucky University Research and Development Center, has decided to focus on building a set of mobile apps that focus on restaurants and a directory-style approach. Restaurants that are signed on to carry the app are able to offer up-to-the-minute wait times, nightly specials and other features to users.
ScnText, the new play of ShopText—a leader in mobile marketing and loyalty solutions—launched in Dec. 2011, allowing a web-based mobile marketing solution, which combines QR codes and text messaging keywords. In minutes, businesses of any size can create an integrated QR code and text message call to action to place in any offline ad. The codes can connect prospects and customers to any selected digital content, including websites, facebook, LinkedIN, blogs, YouTube and Vimeo videos, slideshare and apps.
The customer principal of new mobile platforms, for applications that are quickly deployable, searchable by zip code, and fast to download and manage, is to allow for messaging in a format that allows the customer choice in what apps he sees in the network, based on preferences. Red e App, now in beta, allows a quick development of a mobile strategy in under 30 minutes on the lower end, by pulling together other elements of your company's web presence. This could be web-based emarketing, promotions, events, social media streams, and other quick-look items, like hours of operation and location - and more specifically to clearly state when products or service are ready. Or, as some large institutions are discovering, it could be something more. (Most of us are thinking retail IT right now, aren't we?) Certainly, 95% of all retailers operate just one location.
However, it is healthcare that is rivaling retail in growth in the US. The National Health Expenditure (NHE) grew 4.0% to $2.5 trillion in 2009, or $8,086 per person, and accounted for 17.6% of GDP.
Expect to see more service messaging in large institutions delivering on patient care and internal workflow. A large healthcare institution in the Southeast has begun to evaluate the Red e App platform for compliance solutions in key groups, like nurses and physicians. And, several universities are interested in deploying Red e App to students to prioritize messages that require immediate action related to class or course changes, speakers, grades, coursework, Student Housing and Financial Aid along with other items that better connect administration, faculty and the student body.
So, Red e App has begun to roll out its own set of open business APIs, like the Red e App business portal API, and a software development kit will be available mid-year for integration with Microsoft Dynamics, and SalesForce.com, for example.
"We realize that legacy systems sometimes have the data that is best for integration and workflow in messaging. For example, bar code scanning to let customers know what inventory is available, could be integrated with Red e App, pulling data from the back end," explained Erwin. "Using the portal API and a valid RedeApp business account, your business can request from RedeApp the complete list of subscribers to your business. When a customer walks into your business location, or is otherwise enrolled in your business process, by simply collecting their RedeApp ID and using the RedeApp portal API, you can send notifications at any point in your process," he added.
Kenn Scribner, VP of Platform & Engineering, for Red e App, explained, "The RedeApp business portal API is "RESTful," which simply means no special software tooling is required. If your business has access to the Internet, the RedeApp business portal API simply uses the foundational technologies upon which the Internet is based. No fancy encodings. No fancy proxies—think of those as communication enablers that marry Internet-unfriendly technology to an Internet-friendly one. The barriers to entry are low, and the cost to develop software to use the API is straightforward. Your web programmers are probably already familiar with RESTful services." Scribner has written seven books, edited over 20, and is very deep into Microsoft technologies for those looking to integrate what already exists into a mobile framework.
Rede App's API set is available through inquiry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dawn Yankeelov, president of Aspectx, is a strategic planning consultant in the areas of marketing, PR, and competitive analysis for the healthcare and IT fields.