Software development in general is erred towards meeting a business objective, while guaranteeing optimum user experience – if done right, of course. That is why any software development project is always a work in progress, no matter how small or simple the project was to begin with. Likewise, mobile apps also have the crucial need to be updated frequently, as so many things depend on it.
The updating of mobile apps is usually associated with technical bugs or to improve customer experience, but there are many more benefits than expected, upon closer observation. Here, we’ll start with the basics (why mobile app updates are needed in the first place) and then move on to the common (and not so common) ways that they positively impact your business, revenue and customers.
In today’s fiercely competitive business landscape, customer demands are always changing due to fast-paced lifestyles and limitless consumer options. To maintain peak performance in such a pressurising business climate, two important items, if successfully integrated can significantly help both the customers who use your app, as well as your business bottom line.
1. Starting with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Apart from putting less stress on your development team during the initial stages of deployment, an MVP is ideally suited to regular app updates, in order to enhance product quality. Since only the essentials are launched through an MVP, updating the app as often as needed is the only way to improvement.
Through shorter sprints in an Agile management process, an MVP lessens the complexity of any project, and offers a lot of space for expansion that’s based on user feedback. By far, this is one of the most justified reasons for conducting app upgrades, and a great starting point if you’re still in the process of building an app.
However, it’s not a must. If you have launched a more intricate version of your app from the very beginning or are looking to update an app that has been well established for a while, the same rules still apply.
1. Having an analytics system in place
Whether your app is a work in progress or already up and running, analytics tools are necessary to understand user patterns better, and eventually stand apart from your competitors in a business world that’s saturated with multiple options. From heat maps to engagement reporting, many variants count as analytics. However, it can even be as simple as reading reviews on Play Store and App Store, in order to observe what your users’ likes/dislikes are, so you can offer what suits them best.
There are many practical reasons to update your mobile app, but there are also many strategic reasons as to why you should do so.
1. If you’ve launched an MVP
As elaborated above, an MVP necessitates updates the most, when operating a mobile app. Once the basics are received well enough by your target audience and additional user feedback suggests what you need to improve, rolling out an update with enhanced features is the way to go.
2. Technical issues
The tale of the technical bug is as old as software itself! Once your app is out in the market and technical issues are being observed by your users, releasing a patch that contains the repair is the only way to troubleshoot the issue.
3. Security issues
As our world continues to stay deeply interconnected digitally, the probability of cyber breaches increases too. This is why breaches have been rampant during the past few years, especially with increased dependence on Cloud-based services and social media. It isn’t just smaller enterprises that have been affected; multinational corporations across various industries have been some of the biggest victims of cyber breaches and espionage that have been meticulously conspired at a large scale.
As cyber criminals continuously develop newer, stronger ways to gain unauthorized access or commit cyber theft, businesses also need to constantly stay abreast of counteracting such efforts that compromise product security. For this purpose, security patches can be developed and rolled out most effectively via mobile app updates, thereby confirming yet another resourceful use.
4. New features
One of the most common reasons for updating your app, this is the only way new and enhanced features can be introduced. The improvements you roll out can come from:
(i) User feedback
The demand your user base generates for a specific feature/functionality can influence your brand to improve your app accordingly, and introduce a version that is aligned better to their needs.
(ii) Product expansion
Are you planning on expanding your existing product offering through your app? Do you see any benefits for your business model, by adding or removing features? Then an upgrade that’s dedicated to serving your product offering is also done by changing the features you provide.
While user feedback will be generated more frequently, product expansion is bound to occur less often. Irrespective of how long it takes to acquire knowledge in the interest of product enhancement, is it feasible to roll out updates frequently?
This is where the versatile attributes of Agile project management come in handy. With the objective to deliver a working product via simplicity and shorter timescales, this ensures both development and deployment are carried out accurately and swiftly, and maintained well enough to repeat the same process as often as needed.
In fact, the more often you roll out mobile app updates in shorter, bite-sized patches, the better your team will get at managing and repeating them. After all, this is what Agile project management is for. As one-on-one collaboration and quick turnarounds are made the most of to release what really matters during a single update, frequent deployments get easier.
As a result, this sheds light on a key rule-of-thumb: master the art of working Agile first, and the rest i.e. the goal to carry out more frequent mobile app updates, shall follow.
1. Gain a better understanding of your user base
While mobile app updates are essential to ensure your users receive the very latest in both form and function, the irony is that it takes those very same mobile updates to also understand them better. With every new patch comes more feedback, and the prospect to keep improving further. But most importantly, it also presents the avenue to understand what delights your customers, as well as infuriates them.
After all, customer-centricity is imperative to not just winning new customers, but also keeping them. While big data, business intelligence, analytics tools and a host of other sophisticated resources can enable you to make better sense of how your users perceive your app, it can all only be made possible when there’s a means to obtain all the data required in the first place – something that regular app updates facilitate, due to the influx of feedback post sending a patch out to the masses.
As counter-intuitive as it seems upon first glance, taking a deeper look reveals the chain reaction that mobile apps create for any business to achieve overall customer-centricity.
2. Gain a better understanding of your own business idea/model
While you may have equipped your mobile app with the innovative idea that you initially developed, chances are that your basic business model could still benefit from some revamping – even if it’s well established, well received by your audience and/or is lucrative.
This is isn’t necessarily only due to the fact that customer demands are constantly changing in a rapidly evolving consumer context. Unbeknownst to you as the product owner, your business model may be capable of delivering more than you may have previously imagined.
For example, while Uber started out as a taxi hailing service, it gradually expanded its product offering by exploring the additional potential that its on-demand business model delivered – which is the convenience to reserve a means of transport to get from one point to another. Eventually, this is how Uber Eats was also born. While the latter branched out from the former, they shared the same fundamental business model.
In a nutshell, it’s safe to therefore assume that with every update of your mobile app, you’ll have the unique opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of your basic business model and harness extra potential otherwise unknown to you.
3. Better security
Product enhancements don’t solely come in the form of features that are user-friendly yet profitable. As and when new security protocols are established, your business also needs to stay on par with the same – or else risk compromising user data. It is disappointing news to witness major cyber breaches occur more often than we’d like them to, but staying updated with what’s going on and what’s being done to counteract the issue is all for the benefit of your mobile app, and business.
In this current day and age, every breach is more robust and advanced than the last one. Therefore, security patches that counteract with equal and opposite force are also being rolled out just as frequently into the market. Identifying how your mobile app could possibly be attacked (this could be the theft of sensitive details such as credit card information, or even something more severe such as cyber espionage) and rolling out updates that safeguard your app as well as your users who depend on it is absolutely necessary.
Contrary to popular belief, mobile app upgrades aren’t just a sign of a product that’s up-to-date and sophisticated. Every update is an opportunity to identify so much more than what was initially thought of – from heightened business models to enhanced customer-centricity.
The most recommended course of action is to always start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), for it presents two main advantages: the ability to welcome the essentials at faster turnarounds and at a less complex pace, and the necessity to supplement the essentials through lighter but frequent mobile app updates. While frequent app updates can sound like a daunting undertaking by most product owners and development teams, it can feel all the more easy if Agile methodologies are used to tackle sprints, and prioritise on what’s really needed during each go. As a result, systematically managing each sprint and frequent deployment can instil more confidence in your team to do it all over again, and as often as needed.
Even if your app isn’t in an MVP stage, the above recommendation still applies. In addition to that, establishing stringent analytics systems to monitor and measure how users are engaging with your app is another requisite to ensuring every app update you roll out is optimally resourceful. Updating your mobile app can be done for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
1. Fixing bugs,
2. Strengthening cyber security,
3. Introducing new features for better UI/UX.
The key to understanding the true (but indirect) benefits of upgrading your mobile app actually comes through taking a deeper look at the effects of each release, especially during the course of an extended period of time. This understanding is achieved across multiple aspects, namely:
1. Your app’s user base
While user demands can be necessitated via an updated app, ironically it is these very app updates that also help business owners reach the point of true customer-centricity. This takes time, of course. But it’s one of the most effective ways to bridge the gap between the desires of your user, and what you have to offer as a business.
2. Your business model
If you thought that your initial business idea that led to your mobile app only has limited potential, think again! With regular app updates, you’ll be able to discover more avenues that you can explore as a business, and thereby expand your product/service offering to your customers.