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How should CIOs approach mobile app dev to achieve five-star status?

Find out how to tweak your mobile app dev efforts to achieve a five-star app rating in this Ask the Expert with Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond.

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Traditional full-blown or custom application development projects can cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. It can take years to go through the analysis phase, the development phase and the testing phase, and then deploy the application. This causes a huge fear of failure. What I would advise CIOs to do is to embrace failure, but focus on reducing the cost of that failure.

Start your mobile app dev efforts by being humble and admitting that you really don't know what's going to work in the mobile application space. The reality is that even the best teams aren't sure what the right user interface design is, or what they should be doing for their customers when they first start out. But, if you start with something small -- in the development world we call it the "minimum viable product" -- and then focus on growing that minimum viable product based on real, actionable feedback from your customers, then you can actually embrace your failure.

The feedback loop for mobile app dev success

Jeffrey HammondJeffrey Hammond

Put new versions out every two weeks based on user or customer feedback. Take a look at the user who gives you a one-star rating that says, 'Boy, the application would really be great if it only did this,' and make it only do that in the very next release. This way, you can quickly pivot from not getting the right thing done -- with a completely new platform, with a completely new set of technologies -- to getting into learning mode as fast as possible. Learn from your customers and act on what you've learned. A high-velocity development loop is a way to move forward.

One of the things that we see with those five-star apps is that they didn't start off with five-star ratings. They get to those five-star ratings because every time they put a new version out, they get an opportunity to reset the ratings clock for that version. By being able to act very quickly, and being able to listen to and act on customer feedback, you can engage your customers. The interesting thing about that person who gives you the one- or two-star rating is they actually took the time to rate your application, and maybe even make comments about it. That means that they're engaged; they're not engaged positively, but there is some level of passion about what you're doing. So, if you can turn that passion into a positive passion by listening to them, then you can very quickly get on the path to improving the experience and building something that's truly useful.

About the author:
Jeffrey Hammond is a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research's application development and delivery group. He is a software development veteran with more than 20 years of experience in development, product management and strategy roles, and an expert in the areas of mobile development, modern application architecture and application lifecycle management. Contact him through his
blog or on Twitter.

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This was first published in August 2014
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