In the past few years, use of smartphones has rapidly evolved from a fringe accessory to an absolute necessity. Today it has permeated almost all spheres of our lives, allowing us to access information and communicate with one another anytime anywhere.
According to ComScore, the number of smartphone users has surpassed the desktop users. We spend more time with our smartphones than any other device (source: eMarketer 4/15). Most notably, when we use smartphones, we spend the majority of our time using mobile apps (source:ComScore). This trending not only shows that we have passed the tipping point of mobile adoption and usage, but sets a clear precedent that we prefer to use mobile apps than the web because they provide a better user experience. Mobile apps are therefore quickly disrupting traditional service delivery, communication and customer engagement methods in every sector.
Based on the reports from ComScore, eMarketer and Campus Computing Survey, it is no surprise that in the education sector, students expect their institutions to engage, interact with and educate them on demand through their mobile devices and mobile apps. In response to this, many campuses have hastily implemented a campus mobile app. But most of these campus mobile apps fall short of replacing the existing services available through the web; providing messaging capabilities; and engaging students. For institutions to provide an effective and integrated mobile app experience to their students there are a few critical requirements that should be adopted into their mobile strategy:
To users for whom their mobile devices and specifically mobile apps are portals through which they connect to everything and everyone, it is imperative that the campus mobile app delivers existing web-accessible services natively through mobile apps. This means that the campus mobile app must integrate with existing applications - ERP, LMS, Library, Dining Services - and re-present the web functionality in the form of native mobile apps - app for registration, app for course assignments, app for searching library, app for today's lunch menu. If an institution isn't providing these mobile apps, it is losing the opportunity to attract, engage and retain its customers - students.
With most users using their smart phones for communicating and accessing news, delivering messaging functionality is key to a campus mobile app strategy. Targeting news, announcements and alerts to students and tracking the effectiveness of those communications is imperative not only to student success but to student retention.
Unlike web development, mobile development can be more easily extended to end users. This presents institutions with a unique opportunity to involve students in the mobile app development lifecycle like Bryant University did here and here. Selecting a mobile platform that provides an easy-to-use app development GUI augments this strategy. Engaging students in the mobile app development lifecycle positions institutions to provide a better student experience, one that is informed by students - if not built by or with them.
Mobile apps are here to stay. They are driving and re-defining the way we consume and communication information. Institutions must adopt an integrated, one-stop-shop campus mobile app and mobile-first mentality in delivering education and communicating with their students in order to adapt to their customer's expectations and stay relevant.
The author, Anjli Jain, is founder and Chief Strategist of LookingGlassKryptos
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