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Why A Proof of Concept makes me starry eyed.


Let’s start by posing this one question.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  Of course the answers will vary, but a few come to mind. I want to be a doctor, I want to be an engineer, I want to be an artist,  I want to be … an ASTRONAUT!

Wow!  Did you make it happen?  An Astronaut!  Exploring new frontiers, going further than anyone’s been before, facing new challenges, unwinding the puzzles of new technology; sounds like Star Trek doesn’t it.  We are astronauts. We do all the above in our world of mobile app development.

What does this have to do with Proof of Concepts and Mobile Development?  Well at Catalyst Mobile we are constantly pushing these boundaries of technology.  This article is not about getting ‘lost in space’ on definitions of Proof of Concepts (although if you want these you can go here to find out more) (Wiki link),  I’m here to convey the benefits, excitement, fun and opportunities, in a practical sense , that a PoC can offer your business.

As a business you want to keep one step ahead of your neighbours. Let’s see how a PoC can help you do that.

Exploring new frontiers


There is no lack of opportunity. Mobile app development is a fast paced and innovative platform.  It’s a gold rush of new technologies that present your business with possibilities beyond the imagination.   Apple and Google are in a race to deliver their new innovations to consumers with new phones with new capabilities and software development kits for Developers to leverage.  It’s fast paced.  And we have new platforms springing up regularly to give us more functionality in our apps.  Sophisticated tools for customer mobile engagement are opening doors, new hardware components like NFC on iPhone can present new ideas and features for app developers to integrate.

We see a lot of businesses focussed on bringing their existing business functionality to their apps.  Investing in the basics and fundamentals is of course important and one does need to be careful as an early adopter. But there is a middle ground. By developing a PoC your team gets the opportunity to explore new technology and see how you can disrupt your industry and answer those compelling questions from your business.

Going further than anyone has been before

By pushing boundaries, we get to really understand the new technologies, the pros and cons of the features and functionality, how mature the technology is and how it can fit in to your app architecture and design.  More importantly, by actually working on a PoC we develop a deeper understanding of the problem we’re trying to solve and in this journey we can develop new ideas.

Let’s look at a few examples.  We’ve been working with a customer app that provides a product and delivery service to their customers.  A traditional business with call centre for orders and support with a large customer base – but competitive.  We worked on a PoC to highlight to management how they could leverage new tech to increase their customer engagement, improve on sales and support and save them operational costs.  The key areas we explored included mobile engagement through sophisticated push notification implementations, mobile wallets with loyalty cards and built in messaging to provide support and help articles.  

Nothing conventional

There was nothing conventional about this PoC, every feature we developed was a step in a new direction for the customer. We provided them a completely new outlook on how they could engage with customers over their mobile channel in a modern and sophisticated way and also provided them confidence for their product roadmap. It changed their perspective. A little like seeing the earth from space.

In another PoC we are really pushing the boundaries with latest NFC capabilities in the iPhone.  We created a user journey which required the integration of NFC and during this exercise we discovered we could do unexpected things with NFC that are a game changer for the industry.  By allowing our developers the freedom to explore and push these boundaries we got unexpected results that steered a new path for the development of future apps for our customer. Sometimes these accidental discoveries during PoC are rocket fuel to propel you into hyperspace first – whilst competitors are left light years behind.

It’s only when you explore these technologies that you truly understand how your business can become innovative and disruptive. It’s a channel for ideation, and brainstorming in a practical way.

Facing new challenges

A PoC is a challenge.  We’re posing difficult questions.  

Would it be feasible to do X, Y or Z ?

Does this software live up to its reputation?

How can we integrate this into our workflow?

Do we have the resources to do this?

One thing is for sure. If you take the challenge and embark on developing a PoC you may find as many questions as there are answers.  But that’s the whole point  – embrace this, as overcoming these challenges, whether technical or business related is just anther business problem to solve.  

Unwinding the puzzle

When you start out on a PoC all you have are lots of pieces and lots of questions – it is a puzzle and the questions need to be answered if you are to progress your business.  A PoC is generally a low risk and low cost test of these ideas and questions and can save the business time and money whilst taking the pressure off your development team who are focused on the mainstream business operations.

A PoC is the first step of a technical implementation in your project, it provides you with the assurance that the task can be done and also gives your team a starting point for the development of the whole project.

Thanks for reading and I hope you share our enthusiasm  🙂

Taking it further

A PoC is not always required.  Most of the applications we develop use technological concepts and implementations that are quite well established and tested. However, its always good to ask your developer if they are able to estimate the effort to develop the feature you’ve requested. Theres nothing to lose by asking if you’re breaking new ground and whether a PoC is advisable

If you’ve got questions about developing a Proof of Concept please don’t hesitate to add comments below – and if you want to get advice or a quote on development work you’ve got upcoming, (including potential POC’s) get in touch now. We’d love to help your business reach for the stars.

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