Ricardo Arriaga
Innovation Director
Expert Contributor

Mobile Applications: Digital Transformation's Backbone

By Ricardo Arriaga | Tue, 08/25/2020 - 14:10

Technology is enabling organizations to reach mass markets. We live in an economy of experiences where customers demand greater speed of service, ease of use and personalization of services and products. Therefore, businesses have the opportunity to take advantage of the growing adoption of smartphones, reaching new generations - the digital natives - who will be the majority in a few years.  

The bridge between on-line and off-line worlds are smartphones, as these are the best channel to deliver personalized services to our customers. Specially, when these allow us through apps have greater market reach, speed of care and scalability. In Mexico it is estimated there are more than 120 million mobile lines, proof that the democratization of mobile telephony is being achieved and with this an explosion of new digital products and services. 

A couple of decades ago we had an electronic device for every activity, listening to music, watching a movie, taking pictures, recording video, making phone calls or doing math. Today we can do all those activities on one device and through apps. Now users can solve their daily problems anytime, anywhere, and through their smartphone and easy-to-use apps, as well as, users are aware it is the best way to do it.

Recent years of technological advances and trends have smart phones as their primary mechanism of access and control. We have great advances at hand, such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, which are known as exponential technologies, as they enable businesses to grow 10 times more.  Such technologies have expanded because they are compatible with smartphones and work through mobile devices.

Mobile applications are so important that special attention must be paid to their conceptualization, design and construction. In my experience participating in the creation of more than 500 apps I have identified a series of good practices that ensure success in the digital transformation: 

Mobile First

If the organization is planning to create or modernize a digital channel, it must first think of mobile users. To see its strategy from a user-centered design  and understand people use their smartphone at any time and anywhere. It is worth thinking about the Mobile first concept as a pillar of our strategy for digital transformation. There are many benefits this way of thinking can offer to a brand or a company, because it can help  convert future customers into actual customers and grow sales. It can also generate more quality leads, enhance attention, besides helping us to know the preferences and desires of our current clients and making them more loyal to our brand or company. This also helps us to interact more with employees at the company, increase morale and make work environments more productive. Allowing collaborators to work remotely by providing the tools, ease and security of access to the necessary systems.

Business Apps

If you plan to invest in a mobile application, you must distinguish between a channel and a new business. For example, for banks, airlines and retail, apps are sales, retention and customer service channels. For Uber, AirBnb, and Rappi, apps become the business itself; the company is the app, it is the business center. For both cases it is essential to define the objective being pursued, the market segment and user habits.

First the objective, then the functionalities and design. OKRs are a very effective way to define the objectives and key results that will allow the design of the functionalities and user experience to ensure the success of a digital channel based on mobile applications. 

If it's a business application a mobile application will be successful. The age of information apps was replaced by the age of business apps that are transactional, smart and solve real user-specific problems.

Killer features

A mobile application must have few functionalities but be highly relevant to solve real problems, focused on results and with defined business objectives. If a functionality does not cover these aspects it has no reason to be. The first applications for phones had these features, solved a real problem and there were as many as needed. For example, the contacts, messages, photo, video and notes application. When an app has many features that are not relevant users end up forgetting them but the business has already made the investment to build them. So, one of the main challenges is to eliminate the extra functionalities, since this is one of the main reasons why there are many apps that are uninstalled. 


Creating a great user experience makes the difference by generating a success story. In order to create a good experience it is fundamental to know the user, which are their daily activities and problems that are necessary to solve, as well as to know the benefits that they want to obtain, how they want to be seen by their friends and environment, which are their worries, frustrations, their consumption habits, digital experts, demographic and pisco data. 

The mobile application has reason to be if it is designed on that defined user and it must be related to who will use it. Since one of the most common mistakes is the design focused on the tastes and desires of the directors who own the app.  


We are living in an era of great technological advances of massive adoption, there are more and more new users connected. People who have never bought on the Internet, a new generation of consumers. What will happen to those millions of new people connected to the Internet? What new businesses will be created to serve these people? Is your company ready to participate in this great opportunity?

The greatest period of innovation is yet to come.

Photo by:   Ricardo Arriaga