Not all businesses have a formal IT policy, and it's something worth doing. The information shared here came from the cyber crime conference I attended last week in Cambridge, held by the county's PCC. A broader overview of cyber crime in Cambridgeshire can be found in the previous blog post.
What is an IT policy?
You probably already know – a document or collection of documents that set out best practice for staff regarding cyber security, online access, emails, etc.
The aim to to stay safer by educating staff. By having an IT policy, staff should be aware of preventable issues and be able to respond quickly if something is amiss.
How important is it?
We need to do more to protect company data, according to the experts: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Cambridge-companies-beware-cyber-attacks/story-28609175-detail/story.html
According to Cambridgeshire Police, one local medium-sized business went bust due to the extent of a cyber crime, and many companies are victims on a smaller scale (see more in this post).
What should be in an IT policy?
Below are some things to think about:
What is the policy on storage such as USBs? Can staff bring in personal USBs and use them on a work computer?
Who and where are you buying hardware, software and services from?
Passwords Are colleagues allowed to share passwords? Are all desktops and laptops password protected? Network and remote access
Can you logon to the network externally?
Who can access your office? Employees, cleaners, visitors?
Who has access to what?
Email links and attachments
Think about a policy on clicking links, or file extensions to be aware of. For example receiving a .exe file from an unexpected source should be a red flag.
Do you keep backups and who is responsible for them?
Are laptops or towers/monitors left logged in and unattended?
When I hear two-step authentication I think of banks or Google mail logins, where you have a password and a text, or password and security key.
It is also something else just as useful – literally getting a second authorisation before committing to a payment. A common way of scamming money relies on administrative staff not getting a second authorisation after receiving an email from the boss. This is called CEO spoofing (see more on CEO spoofing in previous blog post).
The policy should also include what to do in the event of a security breach (see previous article for advice on this).
Micro-moments are when you want something from your mobile phone, and have an expectation for it to be delivered immediately.
They are the moments during the day when you are busy, and you pick up your phone for instant answers or results.
What are the types of mobile micro-moments?
I-want-to-know – I need an answer quickly I-want-to-go – I need to find a local place or business I-want-to-do – There is something I want to do, and I need help or ideas I want-to-buy – I'm ready to purchase
How do these micro-moments relate to my ecommerce app or website?
Google see micro-moments as a “battleground” for brands. With busy lives and little patience, customers and app users are looking for immediate responses. Google says that success will hinge on how well the needs are met for each micro-moment.
Let's focus on the I-want-to-buy micro-moment for ecommerce (though as you will see later, I-want-to-know is also applicable). What does this micro-moment entail? Not just the moment you make a purchase, but research around a purchase too.
So when designing an app, think how this micro-moment would fit in. How quickly can purchase information be found? How easy is it to navigate? Am I providing relevant information to allow someone to complete a purchase?
Obviously being able to buy when you want to buy is crucial. With more people buying via mobile, most businesses have these ecommerce capabilities, with websites and/or apps that look good on desktop, tablet and smartphone screens.
On mobile, space is premium. When customers are at their I-want-to-buy micro-moment, they need to be able to check out quickly. Think about intuitive, simple paths to purchase.
Looking at a product on your mobile... while in store
Have you done this? You're in a shop and you need to make a decision on a product, so you search for it on your phone. The real-life example given by Google is that when confronted with a cheaper product and a more expensive product, a consumer may be interested to read reviews to understand why one is more expensive and if this cost is worthwhile.
This is seen as a critical moment – to quickly give access to product information, helping someone make a decision to buy. Even when they are actually buying in store, and not on their mobile.
As pointed out by Bridget Dolan, vice president of interactive media at make-up chain Sephora, someone who is able to research what they want to and make an informed decision will most likely be happier with their purchase, and more likely to come back in the future.
Ecommerce across devices
Mobile commerce (or mcommerce) can be blended with regular ecommerce (ie, on a larger monitor such as a desktop), say Google.
The example given is a bloke with his contact lenses – he wants to order them quickly, so looks them up online on his smartphone while out. However, he doesn't have his prescription, so needs to go home, get it, and then fills it out on a desktop computer.
So mobile commerce can also form part of the ecommerce journey, being a micro-moment as part of the purchase.
Ecommerce via a mobile phone or tablet has overtaken ecommerce via desktops and laptops for number of visits, with two thirds of all online website visits being mobile.This is a higher overall percentage than the US, Germany and India. The stat of 65% of online ecommerce being via a mobile was taken from January of this year.
The report is by Similar Web, a website analytics company. We're looking at a snapshot of findings below, relating to mobile ecommerce.
Mobile ecommerce (sometimes referred to as mcommerce) has been growing steadily over the years, with mobile versions of websites being an increasing area of investment for businesses.
As an example, for Black Friday, Similar Web said that for 25 large retailers (including Amazon, Ebay and Argos), the daily average amount of visits per site was 761,000 for desktops and just under 1.4 million for mobile devices.
Desktops still popular
While more traffic was shown to go through mobiles, shoppers spend more time per visit on desktops. In turn, they also view more pages than those looking on their smartphones.
Mobile conversion rate lower
While mobiles have proven to be massively popular for online shopping, there is one significant aspect in which it is still catching up to desktop, and that's with purchasing.
In previous research by IMRG, it showed that conversation rates on mobile, while lower than desktop, had gone up significantly year on year. The IMRG study also showed that more sales themselves (rather than traffic/visits) are through a mobile device.
So while visits and sales are higher on mobiles, the conversion rate is still lower.
The report by Similar Web shows that smartphones are at a 1.16% conversion rate, while traditional computers are at 3.65%. Interestingly the tablet, in between sizes, fares pretty well, much closer to computers at 3.22%.
WindowsA US study has revealed mobile app and website browsing habits.
The report, by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, shows how users are accessing the internet, how long they are online, and their favourite websites and apps (Facebook and Amazon!).
Mobile app popularity
The report showed that during December 2015, 65% of minutes spent online were via a mobile device (tablet or smartphone). So in terms of time spent online on devices, a significantly larger amount of time is spent on mobile devices, accessing either websites or apps.
As more businesses look to mobile app development to cater for the amount of people using their smartphones to access the internet, these stats show this is a continuing trend. Year-on-year, comparing the month of December, there was also an increase on the amount of unique hits with a 7% increase for mobile and a 5% increase for smartphones.
Mobile apps absorb a huge amount of online time
When looking at online minutes spent purely on mobile devices, more of this time is spent on apps rather than websites. In fact the difference is huge – 86% on mobile apps, 16% on mobile web.
This difference does have a theory behind it. A mobile app is likely to be a game, music or chat app that you may use for prolonged periods, whereas a website is often something you take your information from, or make a purchase, and then leave.
When looking at iOS, Android and Windows Mobile Apps Development as an investment, or perhaps when considering a mobile version of your website, it's sensible to look at audience. Who is accessing your information and how? The IAB report suggests the difference between young people accessing apps and mobile web and older people isn't so big.
While people aged 18-34 spend two thirds of their time online via a mobile device, those aged 35-54 spend half of their online time on a mobile device. Both of these is an increase compared to last year.
Do websites get more hits from people using computers, or people using mobile devices?
Currently desktops are still top, with 68% of all website hits coming from computers, according to the study. However, mobiles at 32% are on the rise, whereas hits from computers are declining as a percentage of all hits.
What does this tell us about mobile apps?
Both mobile apps and mobile specific websites are getting increasing amounts of traffic. With the use of mobile devices for internet access increasing across age groups, it is becoming an essential marketing tool or function for businesses.
Our clients, and prospective clients, often ask about the benefits of developing an app in Android or iOS (iOS is also known as Apple or iPhone). Other options include Windows apps and Blackberry apps (although I would say less people enquire about those).
So those are some of the devices you can build apps for, and deciding which device type to target depends on your audience and your requirements.
If you're finding it difficult to narrow it down, to start off with, think of it like this:
Do I want a native app or a hybrid app?
This means – do I want to build an app for a specific device (say, Android phones) or do I want to create an app that will run on several devices?
Native= built for one type of device
Hybrid = intermediary technologies used to create a single version across different types of devices
The basic pros and cons of each are as follows: Native apps proNative apps are built specifically for one particular device, so all functions are designed to run , to a high standard. Native apps conPotentially you are missing out on other phone markets because those with an Android mobile cannot use your app. If you have the budget, this isn't much of a con, since you would simply invest the money in a sister app that is designed to run on a different device. But if your funds are limited, investing it all in one app could limit opportunities. Hybrid apps proMost likely money saved on rolling your app out across several devices, while still maintaining a very good, but maybe not optimum, standard. Hybrid apps conThe app will potentially not work as well as if it had been made exclusively for that device, since it has been adapted to run across more than one device.
So that's something to think about – native or hybrid. Next, you need to think about what device or devices it will run on.
In the UK, most people are using either an Android or an Apple phone, and most mobile apps would be made for either or both of these, if the objective was to make it available to as many people are possible.
After those two, Windows is probably the third most enquired about from our perspective. If building a Windows app, it will usually be for a specific reason that you are targeting Windows and not Android or iOS.
Some final thoughts: What's the difference between an app for a phone and an app for a tablet? See my upcoming article!
We work with big and small companies and also have experience as an outsourcing partner, if your company does not have the skills needed in-house. You can email us any app development enquiries at email@example.com.