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Can your mobile app generate extra revenue in the short term? Can it expand your market? Can it raise your profile? The 5 key trends for mobile apps in 2016 are not only relevant to major companies. They also affect SMEs which can use them to gain exposure, increase their brand awareness, maximize productivity or expand their markets so they can seize new business opportunities. 5 trends to keep an eye on to improve your mobile strategy:

Mobile trends n°1 : Local searches
You’re exploring somewhere new : where can you find the best restaurant? Could you maybe find a cheaper product somewhere nearby ? Mobile apps are transforming the ways in which the users behave, fostering spontaneity and doing away with intermediaries. People are constantly looking for information, good tips, the most appealing offer, etc. So much so that revenue generated by local search and discovery apps looks set to triple over the next 4 years. It will rise from US$3.4 billion in 2016 to US$12.2 billion by 2020.

But it’s not only down to changes in the way people behave. The boom in technologies such as LTE Direct and others that use the iBeacon protocol should make interactions easier, such as sending notifications to users, along with discount vouchers, contextualized information about a company’s product ranges, rich media data, etc. The devices themselves integrate technological innovations. Cameras that can take pictures and shoot video, voice recognition, integrated sensors and connected objects which are all set to get better. These are changing the ways in which people use them.

Local search, for example, is an opportunity for SMEs to increase their visibility and so win over new customers.

Mobile trends n°2 : Digitizing the path that customers take
Customers can contact your company from a PC. They continue with their search over a mobile device, then they physically visit your company at its actual site. To complete their interaction with you, they may use a tablet computer. Just imagine. I’m the proud owner of a hotel. With my mobile app, I can ensure that my business is ever-present on the web. A guest booking a room receives a booking memo. They can modify it via their mobile app. While they are traveling, they can use the app to locate the hotel and access information about interesting places to see in the immediate vicinity. They can take up any of the hotel’s partner offers, browse a selection of restaurants and a whole range of other services in just a few taps or swipes. Then when they leave, satisfied with their stay, they can share their experience with their friends and acquaintances, helping to raise the hotel’s profile.

Mobile trends n°3 : Productivity out in the field
It is now commonplace for people to use their smartphone, tablet computer or phablet while they’re on the move. Often they can leave pen and paper behind and draft their activity report, inspection report, expenses claims, client quotes, etc. directly on their device. Productivity apps are definitely becoming more popular: people can share calendars with all their employees, integrate data into the company’s IT system while on the move, etc.

Mobile trends n°4 : In-app retargeting
Advertising retargeting is a technique that is widely used on the web. But less so on mobile devices. This has nothing to do with banner or feed type adverts, but actual retargeting: it identifies users who have added items to a basket and then abandoned their purchase, or who have performed a particular search, and then delivers a personalized message designed to get them to go back to whatever it is that they had stopped doing. A technique that shouldn’t be forgotten – it’s well known that mobile apps tend to be used straight after they’ve been downloaded, but often remain unused thereafter.

Mobile trends n°5 : The growing popularity of wearables
Wearables are all the connected objects that people might wear – watches, items of clothing, etc. The number of apps developed for the Apple Watch increased from 3000 in April 2015 to 14,000 in December 2015, according to app analytics firm App Annie. The types of apps developed include games, utilities, health and fitness apps, apps for entertainment, lifestyle, productivity, traveling and finance. There’s no doubt that connected objects represent a fast-growing mass market which provides numerous opportunities for developing dedicated apps.

It’s worth keeping an eye on a couple of other trends: virtual reality, a global market that is already worth US$1 billion, and artificial intelligence.