Tuesday, 6 March 2012

5 ways to avoid mobile application lost and found + $25,000

Last week we discussed how 33 innovative College students spent four days building out several comprehensive mobile modules for their Campus contest. Aside from endless amounts of coffee and pizza – the end goal was to showcase a working prototype and gain invaluable industry experience.

So – what’s next for these young entrepreneurs? How can they further gain exposure and interest in their mobile application? Are there opportunities to commercialize their project? How do we instill innovation, creativity and building something that matters…..?

This week we will discuss the Enterprise and the B2C markets as a potential launch pad for our future tech (rock) stars. The experience to engage in real world opportunities prepares the student for lifelong learning.  In mobility, there is no standard way to architect, design, develop and deploy a mobile application – rather several approaches provide the freedom and flexibility to develop on several platforms on many devices.  As technology changes at a rapid pace, the true innovators are the select few who are willing to stay focused, remain nimble and be willing to take a risk when needed.  In our local community we are blessed to have several local serial entrepreneurs like John Baker, Carol Leaman and Iain Klugman. (walk the talk)

From an Enterprise perspective – it absolutely makes sense to explore a platform approach like Sybase. (much of the heavy lifting of data payload is done behind the scenes which is optimized for scalability and performance) The trade-off on TCO and upfront effort is justified when considering SLA’s, complex business processes and reduced administration. Add in back-end integration, cross platform support and future proofing (R&D spend to keep up with innovation) then due diligence and planning is a must. In my experience - several companies greatly under-estimate the potential bottlenecks and gotchas with a home grown approach (Batch / XML/ Flat file) vs. a platform approach.

This is a great learning environment for students and co-ops who seek to gain practical hands on experience specifically for mobile. I can still vividly recall the feedback I received from a second year Waterloo student after I let him loose on a F500 (Retail) CIO regarding a major support issue / system wide outage. Who says a work term is not exciting…..right Serg?

In the B2C mobile world (app store / market place) the personal application is designed for immediate consumption on mass and accessed in real-time. The quality and functionality of the app is relatively unknown and can be easily lost in a sea of mobile applications. The upside potential to drive incremental revenue per app is staggering. However, many applications go undiscovered and create minimal visibility or impact.

As a student or just launching your mobile startup this can be a time (wasted) consuming and frustrating process. Here are five ways to extend your mobile application reach and attract your target audience:

      Seek to partner with companies like D2L (full disclosure – I am a D2L’er passionate about mobile) where frameworks like Campus Life target an existing audience (Education market) – captive / closed loop potential provides for better exposure (a potential of 8 million >)
      Offer a free or lite version of your application – provide some of all functionality
      Provide a try before you buy option
      Identify a business need and provide a compelling story of why your app is unique
      Create buzz and awareness via an innovation event to maximize your potential

The B2C mobile community is rich with talent and presents an equal opportunity to the serial entrepreneur and mid-sized start-ups. A Highschooler has an equal playing field to take his/her mobile app to market as a seasoned College Grad. Whether you are designing an educational game, developing a social app or dabbling in an augmented reality module – the use cases for Education are only limited only by your imagination.

Do you have an idea that will transform the Education via a mobile application? ….read on!

To help foster innovation, creativity and building something that matters - we are excited to launch our 1st inaugural edge challenge contest this week.
Desire2Learn is challenging developers to shape the future of education by building mobile apps that improve the experience of teachers, students, admin and incubation / start-up companies. Learn more: www.desire2learn.com/edgechallenge

As a mobile developer how does this impact me?

Several opportunities to win cash and prizes (Grand prize $25,000 + trip to D2L’s UC)
Opportunity to have your app reviewed by industry thought leaders
Pitch your idea to industry experts (Pitch Night)
Potential to commercialize your application through D2L’s Campus Life platform
National exposure and awareness to your mobile application via our contest page (Facebook)

7 questions for mobile app dev for Education / mLearning?

Got an idea for a mobile app that will transform education? (There is a pitch night for that)

Building an app that could help students learn? (we have cash incentive for that?)

Design a mobile app that can run on many devices demonstrating a solid use case for grade school students? (we have potential prizes for that)

Thinking about building an app to run on the either Blackberry or the Playbook? (we have the contest for you)

Up for a challenge and know all about RDMS and want to tackle data synchronization via Sybase / SQL Anywhere? (we have a contact for that too)

Undecided what to build or how to build (we’ll have webinars / best practices sessions for that)

You live and breathe Android (we have a contest and platform for that) 

Drop me a line  shawn.mcewen@desire2learn.com tell me what you would do with $25K


  1. Very interesting. Thanks! And this 7 questions about mobile app are very helpful for me.

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