You don’t need to sell software to make money from a software app. In fact, there are many ways a good app idea can provide value to your company or to your existing products.

Today, though, we’re going to start diving a little deeper. Because the type of business you run does matter. And while there are general app ideas and concepts to benefit multiple industries, there are some specific ones, too.

So in this post, we’re going to share some app ideas that hardware and software companies might want to consider. And if one or more of these sound good to you, keep in mind that building a software app doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process. Ascendle can help you get your first app product to market in as little as four months.

Let’s get started.

Hardware Company App Ideas

If your company manufactures computer hardware – or even general electronics – there are many ways to benefit from a web or mobile app. Even if your distribution strategy doesn’t deal directly with consumers, an app can help you connect with those end-users.

So how could a software app aid your hardware business? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

· Replace or Extend Your Current Software to the Cloud

Most hardware companies create software to interact with their products. Unfortunately, many of these are Windows desktop-based applications… with single installs on an office, lab, or warehouse computer. By extending the functionality of these applications into the cloud, you make these products mobile. Users can then access and possibly operate your product remotely from multiple devices. In addition, your app could provide new customer benefits with mobile-specific features like push notifications and geolocation.

Example: Traditional security camera systems used to be on-premise only. Then Dropcam – now Nest Cam – came along and broke that mold by moving their recording and playback services to the cloud. This allowed users to view footage remotely on virtually any mobile device.

· Data Visualization

If your hardware collects or produces any sort of data, you can leverage it with a mobile app. Present this data as actionable intelligence to open up new sources of value for your customers. For some, that value could be real-time updates, for others it could be flexible searches, or customizable reports, or dynamic analyses of the outputs. In some cases, if you collect aggregate data, you might even be able to market a data visualization app to customers not actually using your hardware.

· Interactive Controls

If your hardware features a control pad or interactive display, a mobile app could perform those same tasks with far more versatility. Placing this kind of control into a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone could offer significant competitive advantages in some markets. These apps could also offer new features like user-specific configurations and online troubleshooting.

Example: The Sound Blaster Central app allows users to configure different settings across multiple Sound Blaster enabled devices, without having to rely on the specific programs installed on each device.

· Reach Customers with Push Notifications

One of the most powerful features of a mobile app is to send push notifications to users. If your hardware ever needs to “raise its hand” and alert a customer to an error condition or other situation requiring attention, a push notification is the perfect tool. This extends both the impact and reach of your hardware’s monitoring and warning systems. With a mobile app, you no longer need to be in close proximity to see or hear an alert from your device. And with interactive controls (like the ones described in the previous section) you could potentially solve these issues remotely.

Example: A piece of lab equipment that warns lab technicians – and possibly managers, owners, or users – when an environmental issue or out-of-tolerance situation occurs.

Software Company App Ideas

Software companies are already creating software. So how does a new software app help a business that’s already selling software? Here a few app ideas to either enhance your software or improve your business.

· Scale Your Software Down with a Mobile App

Take your commercial software and provide a “lite” version of it as an app. This scaled-down version could provide an entry-point for new customers. Or it could provide a viable alternative for companies needing less complexity with more mobility instead.

Example: Microsoft Word Mobile provides a lighter app version of their popular Word software, optimized for smaller screens.

· Create a Cloud UI for Your Software

Sometimes an app isn’t new software at all, but rather a new way to view an existing product. A web app serves this purpose by allowing users to access relevant features through a browser – and cutting down on installation costs and requirements. A web app creates a new cloud interface to remotely access your software’s database, view its reports, and perform other tasks. These kinds of apps are built to improve the accessibility of your software or the efficiency of its use.

· Adding Mobile Capability to Existing Cloud Software

If you already have cloud-based software, but it isn’t yet mobile, you can address that by creating a new mobile app. Designed to complement the existing software, a mobile app could provide some of the same services as well as some new ones. Often these apps will share the same data, and the mobile app will be viewed as a subset of the original.

Example: Almost every bank these days has an online web application allowing you to conduct most of your banking business online. Some banks have also added a mobile app, allowing a certain subset of these services – such as looking up account balances, viewing transactions, or making digital deposits – to be performed on your tablet or smartphone.

· Provide a Useful Tool

Take something related to (or part of) your software product and create a tool that potential customers would find useful. Use it as a stepping stone to your other products.

Example: Quicken Loans’ Mortgage Calculator app is provided for free and serves to introduce and reinforce their brand in the financial software space.

· Test New Software Ideas

Creating a mobile app with just a few key features is a great method for performing a proof of concept quickly and obtaining some real feedback in the process. Use that feedback as the basis for larger enterprise-level products… or simply continue to grow them as mobile apps. At Ascendle, we’ve mastered the art of getting to market quickly with your minimum viable product and building from there.

· Educational Apps to Support Your Software

Provide tutorials, showcase best practices and highlight user innovations with your product. The aim here is to help customers get the most out of your software, improving satisfaction, retention and referrals.

· Sales & Marketing Apps to Improve Your Software Sales

There’s a wide range of things you could do with a sales and marketing app to improve marketing efficiencies and increase sales. On the end-user side of the spectrum, you’ll find value in content delivery, social engagement, push notifications, and product catalogs. On the corporate side, you’ll find benefits in marketing synergies, sales reports, tracking, and logistics. There are so many ways to impact your sales and marketing organizations with an app that these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Get Started on An App Idea Today Not sure which app idea is best for your hardware or software business? Ascendle is ready to help you develop a plan. Give us a call today!

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