Every time I open a mobile app on my iPhone or iPad, I ask myself which small businesses should (or should not) develop one of these apps themselves. So, I've devoted some of the recent weeks to speaking with companies that have made the investment in some of the do-it-yourself mobile application development kits that promise to rewrite the rules for small-business owners.
In the case of Charles Carroll Financial Partners, a wealth management and financial planning firm with offices in Boston and Washington, the benefit ties directly to its ability to engage more effectively with current and potential clients, said Billy Hayes, principal with Charles Carroll.
The company is using its mobile app, developed with a platform from ViziApps, to transform five or six pounds of paper into an electronic format that is easier to carry and share. The application was built specifically with the intention of allowing the firm to share informational and account documents with clients or prospects, which helps cut travel costs for Charles Carroll even while allowing it to get updates and follow-up documents out more quickly. The company chose the iPad as a focus because it was easier to scan information on a tablet than an iPhone.
"I don't know the technical details," Hayes said. "All I know is everyone sees it, and that makes me happy."
Charles Carroll opted for ViziApps for its iPad application because it was easy for the company's employees to access and because it allows principals to "build an application you can use over and over, and update on your own," he said. The platform's ties to the Google Apps service were also useful. Components of mobile applications created with ViziApps are added or altered through a drag-and-drop interface.
The screenshots below are of a sample "special deals" app created with the ViziApps template.
George Adams, CEO of ViziApps, said small businesses can design and test applications for free. If the company decides to publish the application, the monthly fee ranges from $29 to $149, depending on whether the application is published in a native form for Apple iOS or Android, or whether it is published as a Web application.