4 Tips for Navigating an Overcrowded App Marketplace

August 29, 2015

8:00 am

Whether it’s in accounting, sales management, analytics, or just about any other essential business area, a software solution can provide a serious boost to your operations. The catch, though, is cutting through the clutter of new apps to find the one that’s right for you.

Designing apps — and creating them — has become easier than ever. Because of this, the software marketplace has grown to colossal proportions. Across all categories in the three major app stores — Apple, Google, and Amazon — the total number of programs is nearing 2 million. Even if we limit the field to just business apps in the Apple store, more than 128,000 new releases occurred in 2014 alone.

This environment sets up a daunting — yet conquerable — challenge for entrepreneurs searching for new tools to add to their tech belts.

The Pros and Cons of the Crowded Market

On the plus side, today’s stacked app marketplace provides entrepreneurs with more choices than ever. It’s evident that intense competition among developers has raised the quality bar for all, and apps need to achieve certain standards in order to remain viable. Software has become cheaper, too, with the arrival of all of these new options. And, in most cases, hesitant buyers can put their fears to rest by trying programs for 30 days before making final commitments.

However, with the typical startup operating at warp speed, who actually has time to test-drive all of these apps? Further, you might be spooked by security concerns (e.g., wondering if the software could be hacked or whether the developer might share your data). And you also don’t want to risk running aground if a product stops functioning as expected, leaving you no choice but to start over with a new program.

So, where should you start in making a well-educated selection?

How to Find the Right Solution

Naturally, you’ll need to analyze the cost of any application in relation to your budget. Prompt and easy-to-access product support must factor in significantly as well; downtime indirectly costs you money. From a technical standpoint, you should determine the program’s ability to scale up as your company grows and how it will integrate with other apps to create an end-to-end workflow. Likewise, don’t overlook the time it will take for your team to learn the new technology.

In addition to these general business guidelines, use the following four tips to guide you when drilling down more specifically for the right software:

1. Read the reviews.

After you’ve narrowed your search to a manageable number, check out software review sites like getapp.com to see what real people are saying about the program. Focus on recurring themes within their comments — the issues that continually pop up are the things you should worry about most.

2. Ask your friends.

Find out which apps your tech-savvy friends have downloaded, and ask them about the ones you’re interested in. Maybe they’ve encountered something you haven’t. In any event, friends tend to be open and honest with their opinions, so listen carefully to their observations.

3. Question others in your industry.

Don’t hesitate to speak to colleagues (or even competitors) to hear feedback about which software is working best for them. If your competitor is thriving due to a new app they’ve purchased, you really ought to explore using it, too.

4. Be honest about your needs.

At the end of the day, make sure you’ve conducted a realistic assessment of what, specifically, your company needs. Consider factors like the size of your organization, the kind of data you produce and consume, and the amount of money you can devote toward software solutions.

Startups have come to rely on software for many things, prompting developers to continually feed more apps into an already crowded market. But with a solid approach to sizing up your needs and assimilating readily available feedback, you can actually use the wide array of options to your advantage in the app selection process.

Image Credit: Flickr/Seth Meranda

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Shawn Freeman is an entrepreneur, a personable geek, and the founder of IT services company TWT Group Inc., based in Calgary, Canada. He founded the company to make IT simple instead of infuriating and believes it should be the easiest part of anyone’s day. TWT has seen significant growth since its inception and is now serving more than 100 clients.

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