An app is not enough: How businesses can stay ahead in the digital age

Sienne Veit, director, online product at John Lewis, emphasises the need for businesses to think beyond the web. “Nowadays, not having an app would be like not having a website a few years ago – it is now a business essential. But it’s not just about having an app in the store, it’s about making sure this digital offering is aligned with all parts of the business.”

In their case, she explained: “It’s essential that our digital offering is closely intertwined with the physical in-store experience. Our digital services need to allow for a fluid end-to-end journey. 

“For example, because we sell considered, expensive items, a customer is likely to first look online, then go and look at the item in store, then head back online to order it. There cannot be any disconnect between any of these stages, which is why we need to provide great flexibility in our apps.”

In many cases, APIs (application programme interface) can create a step-function increase in the ability to exchange data between a company’s own back-end systems, third-party sources (e.g., contextual weather information based on the location of an app user or a destination hotel property), and other apps (e.g., Facebook). Analytics can enable real-time processing of data in order to predict the “next best step” for an app user based on both their digital history and their immediate context.

In light of these digital opportunities, only six per cent of respondents said they haven’t seen any positive returns across revenue, efficiency, market share, or the pace of innovation from digital investments.

But the difference in the impact of digital on the bottom line between the “app-only” companies and those that also implemented APIs and incorporated data analytics is stark.

Companies that implemented three digital capabilities in 2014—apps, APIs, and analytics— are eight times more likely to report increased revenue than those who delivered apps alone. According to our report, the median reported increase in revenue from successful digital initiatives across all respondents is £487,000, but among the latter group the median rises to £9,000,000.

Consumers are interacting with brands in different ways (both online and offline) and doing so on multiple devices. It’s vital that this customer journey is made as fluid as possible, whilst also ensuring that these interactions provide the data which help businesses to understand more about their customers and deliver real value.

There is little doubt about the digital agenda

As the results of this research show, the majority of UK businesses are in agreement that digital transformation is now a business essential and is key to providing the most flexible and valuable customer experience possible. 

Data is at the heart of developing a digital business, and those who took action on apps, APIs and analytics in 2014 are not only reaping greater top line benefits than those who did not, but are also seeing stronger ability to innovate more quickly.

All (100 per cent) of those who deployed apps, implemented APIs, and incorporated data analytics into products and services in 2014 consider creating a more connected digital experience for customers, partners, and employees a priority for 2015.

Rather than sitting on their laurels, they are looking at leveraging their digital capabilities to develop new sources of revenue or enter new markets in 2015.

This suggests that for those who have not already made APIs and analytics a core competency alongside apps, 2014’s pace may be a recipe for falling behind rather than staying competitive. We believe that the time is now for executives at every enterprise that understands that “digital matters” to ensure that apps, APIs and analytics are all essential and complementary assets in the digital toolbox.

Denis Dorval is the VP EMEA at API management firm Apigee, which provides improved app development support. To take a look at all of the findings from the report, visit the company’s website.

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