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How to Affordably Launch A Business App

How to Affordably Launch A Business App

Most businesses, no matter their size or scale, can benefit from the additional marketing opportunities inherent in having your own app. Quotes to build an app can be over $100,000, though, a discouraging figure which may have put your app ideas on hold.

Luckily, the same popularity which makes apps a viable marketing strategy also means that companies have been formed with the sole purpose of making the process of building mobile apps quicker, easier, and cheaper. This guide will discuss the various avenues your business could take to get its app off the ground without spending a fortune.

From the Ground Up

Building an application from scratch requires the skilled hands of programmers and designers, working for anywhere between a couple hundred to thousands of hours on your project. It’s a daunting task, but it’s the only way to get a truly unique, highly functional app with all of your specifications.

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Some sources may warn that developing your own app from “scratch” may cost over $100,000. While it’s true that some popular apps cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop, but those are usually games, which take a lot more time and effort, or belong to large existing companies like Amazon or Target. Chances are, your business app won’t cost nearly as much to program, plan and test.

Planning your idea and hiring your team are the two most important decisions you will make in the process. The nature of this work means that you can hire people across the world without disruption to your business. All information is simply sent digitally. International labor costs for skilled programmers and developers range from $20-50/hour, so you will have to weigh quality against quantity when determining from where and who you hire.

The major phases of development are planning, features, infrastructure, testing, and finally deployment. In total, these processes can take anywhere from between 250 and 1200 hours, depending heavily on the complexity of your app, including how many people will be using it.

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As you can see, an app doesn’t need to cost 6 figures, and can come in comfortably under $25k. Still, there are more affordable options.

No-Code App Builders

For businesses who don’t need to reinvent the wheel with their app, handy software is available all over the web which allows average people with no prior coding knowledge create functional apps. Most services brag that it takes only minutes, though proper apps still require a few hours of fine tuning on these platforms.

Still, there is plenty of benefit to using these services, the most obvious being no need to hire a team to program your ideas. Drag-and-click interfaces replace dizzying lines of code, so almost anyone can make a passable application.

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You will still need to have a strong perspective and plan before attempting to make a successful app with one of these programs. Be ready with upload-able logo and brand images, as well as a strong list of viable payment methods.

These services are provided for a monthly fee which ranges from around $30-100. Many businesses will like this no-commitment style development, where very little is invested initially in time or money, and you can choose to continue the service so long as it proves successful.

Buying a License

When there’s no time or money for the last two options, business owners have the convenient option of purchasing the license to existing applications. Such services allow developers to sell their license for a fee, and additionally offer personalization like reskinning, added features, social network integration, etc.

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Businesses essentially purchase the right to use the pre-made code, which has been customized to their specifications, and only need to pay for the server in the future.

If you’re looking for an app that is very similar to those which already exist, chances are the code is for purchase. Codes vary widely in price and licenses can be anywhere from $20-$2,000, so shop around within your budget.

Now that you know building an app has never been more affordable or accessible, what are you waiting for? Take your business to the next level with an app that your customers will adore.

Featured photo credit: Apps for Business Success via lifehack.org

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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