How’s your company faring in the mobile app economy?

If you performed any online transaction today — be it a bank deposit, a dinner reservation or a gift purchase — you most likely used an app. How was the experience? If it was positive — fast, secure, easy to use, there’s a strong chance you’ll be back. If not, there’s a strong chance you deleted that app from your phone and switched to the competitor. I sure would.

There are currently some 2.6 million mobile apps available for download, and if you check back next month the figure will have grown 2-3 percent. App usage, usually via smartphones, increased 22 percent in the past year alone, and overall time spent on apps was up 21 percent. When it comes to some categories, such as health and fitness and social networking, the jump was even bigger: around 50 percent.

How’s that for high stakes? Having an app that is highly reliable, intuitive, secure and visually appealing might be the most important job your technology staff has on its plate.

As Mike Gregoire, CEO of CA Technologies, said in a recently published e-book, your app increasingly is the face of your company.

“We now live in a world where customers are no longer loyal to the brand, or the product, or the service,” he wrote. “Instead they’re loyal to the complete experience a brand delivers.”

The e-book, “Getting the Upper Hand in the Mobile App Economy,” is available for free download hereIt offers a handy list of four key areas for C-level executives to question while considering whether their company’s mobile app sets them up for success or failure:  

  1. Performance: Does the app do what it says it will, quickly and reliably, every time it’s opened? Is it intuitive and easy to use? Does it offer unique features and benefits?
  2. Crashes and Issue Resolution: How often does the app crash? Is data lost? How efficiently does support resolve issues and prevent future crashes?
  3. Transaction Response Time: How quickly does the app respond to business transactions that the user initiates, return results or compete its assigned actions?
  4. Overall Health of the Mobile App: Does performance or functionality lag over the course of a session or over repeated sessions? Are issues resolved and performance enhanced with new features?

If you are a C-level officer worth your weight in salt, you probably know the ballpark answers to these questions without even hauling the IT chief into your office. If that IT chief is in your office already, ask him or her this: What are they doing to track app analytics? Can they monitor transactions from end-to-end? Do they have deep visibility into app performance?

The only way to remain competitive in today’s app environment is to, first, test your apps-in-development from the very first stage, using simulation technology such as Service Virtualization. The critical second step is to maintain constant visibility of app performance so you know about issues before too many customers do.

If app issues concern you and your company, CA’s ebook is an excellent place to start the fact-finding mission. Then, you’ll be armed to ask some tough questions at the next executive meeting.