The explosive growth of apps is causing significant challenges for the banking industry, according to Gartner, Inc.
Banking CIOs, CMOs and line of business (LOB) heads face two key challenges. The first is that the visibility of customer banking apps in public stores is decreasing due to the total number of apps available; the second is that visibility of apps on bank websites is decreasing as the number of apps a bank deploys increases. This second issue is exacerbated by the fact that most bank websites do not make it easy for customers to find their apps. Apps are often listed by LOB, making it difficult for a customer to see all the apps offered by the bank, and even if they are listed in one place, the descriptions are often high-level and vague.
"Left unaddressed, these two challenges and others could really have a negative impact on banking revenues and customer experience," said Kristen Moyer, research vice president at Gartner. "Banks can use banking app stores to improve app discovery but only if the added cost and complexity are warranted."
In light of these challenges and opportunities, Gartner advises CIOs, CMOs and LOB heads to focus on the following three actions:
Evaluate the Potential Need for a Banking App Store
The two most important variables in evaluating the need for a banking app store are the total number of apps and the presence (or lack) of an application programming interface (API) platform. The more apps a bank has deployed, the more challenging it becomes for users to discover the right app for them. Public Web APIs deployed to third-party developers, customers, partners, employees and others will serve as a multiplier to the number of apps deployed by the bank itself. Three main options emerge from these variables:
Given the rapid growth of apps, Gartner believes that CIOs, CMOs and LOB executives should evaluate the need for a bank-specific app store in the 2014-to-2015 time frame. Furthermore, by 2016, Gartner expects to see about 25 percent of large banks deploy banking app stores to improve app discovery, user experience and collaboration. As more banks deploy app stores, it will put competitive pressure on those that do not.
Improve Website Organization to Support App Discovery and User Experience
Banks need to make it easier for customers to find their apps by providing a "get your mobile app here" type of banner through their online banking application.
"Provide a dedicated section on the bank website to list all customer-facing apps," said Ms. Moyer. "This will be most effective when the total number of apps is less than 10 to 20. For each app, provide complete descriptions and screen shots, and allow social commentary. Each app could then be linked to the associated public app store."
Continue to Make Banking Apps Available Through the Public Stores
CIOs, CMOs and LOB heads should continue to make banking apps available through the public stores, regardless of whether or not they deploy their own banking app stores. This is because it's important to be where customers are, and many customers will continue to discover apps through the public stores. In addition, for some mobile operating systems (like iOS apps), a banking app store would still need to link to the app on iTunes to actually download the app.
More detailed analysis is available in the report "Where's That App? The Rise of Banking App Stores”. The report is available on Gartner's website at http://www.gartner.com/doc/2701419.
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