In a world filled with smartphones and tablets, consumers are used to accessing information on the fly. Websites and other web-based applications need to be nimble, flexible, efficient and easy to use. By the end of 2015, 200 million people will have smartphones, according to John Opdycke, vice president of worldwide marketing for TOA Technologies. The apps that go on these phones are becoming a crucial business tool.
“By 2015, more people will access the web from their smartphone than from their desktops and laptops,” says EXP president Barb Cagely. “Smart mobile devices are accelerating the rate of change in the business landscape. Mobile isn’t simply a new tool, but a new platform that is fundamentally changing the rules of how we interact with our customers and launch new products and businesses.”
In Cleveland, numerous app developers are ahead of the curve, dreaming up mobile apps that do everything from enrich your tourism experience, ensure on-time deliveries, and make sure workers in the field have all the resources they need.
Here are five fast-moving developers to watch.
Barb Cagley, EXP
App: The Experience App
Barb Cagley spent 15 years as a web developer, doing web marketing sites and social media. Then, three years ago, she decided that app development was much more interesting.
“The web business was taking a lot of time,” she recalls. “I decided mobile apps were the way it was going.”
Cagley founded EXP and developed the Experience App, a directory and calendar tool for local neighborhoods. She started in Tremont. Every Tremont business is listed, and for a yearly fee subscribing businesses can add and control additional content. For instance, restaurants can post daily lunch specials.
“It’s an opportunity to promote themselves,” explains Cagley. “The Experience App was built with a focus on being local. At the time, local was not really being done in the app world.”
Since then, EXP has created the Experience App for Willoughby, Lakewood, Kamms Corners, and Legacy Village. She just finished up Westlake and is currently working on Put-in Bay.
“We’re a mobile world,” says Cagley. “All the numbers are pointing to it and I love new things. It’s nice to be ahead of the market and see where people are going with it.”
Dan Young, DXY Solutions
When Dan Young first was introduced to early mobile devices like Apple’s Newton and PalmPilot, he caught a glimpse of the future. While working for his mother’s legal consulting firm he started thinking about the many uses for mobile devices.
“A light bulb went off in my head when the dotcoms blew up,” he recalls. “In 2005 I started putting plans together for DXY Solutions. There was no iPad or Android, but we liked where the field was going.”
DXY started with field service automation apps for delivery companies and a parking ticket system for police. Then the iPhone came out, and Young surged ahead with his ideas for mobile apps. His Curatescape app provides users with historical information, interviews and photographs as they tour a neighborhood. “People can experience tours with much richer, contextual data,” says Young.
Curatescape was originally developed with Cleveland State University for Cleveland. Young has rolled out similar apps for Geauga and Medina counties, New Orleans, Baltimore and Spokane, Wash. He is rolling out Curatescape for the Kentucky Historical Society in August. Four or five other cities and historical societies have expressed an interest in the app.
More recently, Young has been working with the Cleveland Clinic on an iPad app called C3, which assists in measuring brain injuries. “They can use the tool to better assess concussions,” Young says. “It’s formatted through neurological research. It’s really just getting started. It has the potential to measure things like Parkinson’s disease.”
Young is also working on an app for the automotive industry that connects a smartphone to a vehicle via a Bluetooth device for diagnostics. “Our other specialty right now is connecting mobile with the physical world,” Young says. “It’s really fun.”
Young attributes DXY’s success to a mix of backgrounds on his development team and a love for problem solving. “The trick of a good developer is knowing how to problem solve,” he says. “It’s knowing what the client needs, looking at the bigger picture. Software development is really a creative science -- no two people will ever solve the problem the same way.”
Doug Hardman, SparkBase
When Doug Hardman was working for a software company in 2004, the technology he was working on put the idea in his head for a customer loyalty and rewards program. So he bought the company, founded SparkBase and became the industry leader in software processing of gift cards, reward and loyalty programs.
Then mobile apps became the new hot thing and early this year SparkBase launched PayCloud, a mobile app to sign up for loyalty programs, eliminating the need for plastic cards and key tags to take advantage of special offers.
PayCloud launched with a pilot program in Chicago before rolling out in Cleveland and Columbus. Now the app is also available in Jacksonville, Florida and Pittsburgh. More than 1,000 merchants offer rewards programs through PayCloud, with more than 10,000 user downloads. PayCloud earned SparkBase Tech Company of the Year at NEOSA’s Best in Tech Awards this year.
Hardman and his team are currently launching a new version of the app for tablets, which tells the salesperson who the customer is, how much the customer has spent and how many friends have been influenced by that person.
“Maybe that person only spent $100 in the store, but through social media and emails, they could have had a $2,000 influence in that store. Maybe the store isn’t going to give you anything, but if they look at you and smile, that means something.”
John Opdycke, TOA Technologies
App: ETAdirect Mobility
TOA Technologies recognizes that today’s workforce is on the move. Even though tools to assist workers in the field have been around for years, TOA uses the latest technology to connect workers faster with what they need, when they need it.
“Our goal is to show our customers we are taking advantage of everything out there,” says John Opdycke, vice president of worldwide marketing. “And every worker is now becoming more mobile.”
ETAdirect Mobility App provides accurate, up-to-the-minute workforce management at the user’s fingertips. The app works on any browser, making it flexible for any user. “As long your device can get the Internet and get to a browser that supports HTML5, you can use our software,” says Opdycke.
ETAdirect currently manages more than 60 million appointments annually for many global brands in the satellite/cable/broadband, telecom, insurance, home services and retail industries. The app’s ease of use and accuracy recently earned it the Best Mobile App award by NEOSA.
TOA’s Smart Collaboration feature takes the app a step further, allowing workers in the field to connect with other workers and dispatch instantly. The feature simplifies the communication between everyone involved in a service call, which means jobs are completed faster and more often on the first visit.
“You as a worker are connected to other workers in the field or back at the office,” explains Opdycke. “The mobile app helps them do their thing -- they don’t have to enter, ‘this is where I am; these are the tools I need.’”
Jason Therrien, thunder::tech
App: Enterprise Apps
Thunder::tech began in 1999 as an integrated marketing agency. “We’ve combined advertising, digital communications and design skill sets all under one roof,” says founder Jason Therrien. “We do lots of R&D and we see what is coming down the pike. Five years ago we began working in the mobile space. It seemed like a logical area to get into.”
Thunder::tech these days focuses on mobile apps that allow users to access websites and databases while away from their offices. “Anyone out in the field, anyone who is out of the office and needs to take the office with them -- it’s an aid out in the field to have data at your fingertips,” Therrien says.
These tools are developed specifically for what Thunder::tech clients need in the field. “This may be a tool that performs business functions such as order taking or production scheduling,” Therrien says. “Or from a sales perspective, it may mean giving a salesperson easy or customized access to customer information and presentations while they’re out in the field.”
For instance, Therrien has a client who uses a product selection tool. Rather than lugging a catalog around, workers in the field can use the tool on their smartphones and instantly find the part they need. “If they’re out in the field and not sure what to order, they just answer a few questions and it brings up the right part.”
Thunder:: tech set up a system for COSE’s member reps to grab the documents they need quickly and easily from their phones. “Basically, it distills the complex world of COSE into digestible content,” explains Therrien. “The reps can flag the document and links they need and automatically send them to the member.”
- Image 1: Doug Hardman of SparkBase - Photo Bob Pertkoski
- Image 2: SparkBase PayCloud App
- Image 3: Barb Cagely of EXP - Photo Bob Pertkoski
- Image 4 The Experience App
- Image 5: Dan Young of DXY Solutions
- Image 6: Curatescape App
- Image 7: John Opdycke of TOA Technologies
- Image 8: ETAdirect Mobility App