By Dr. Kennedy Amofa
*Editor’s Note: CC Biz Buzz is a new monthly column series that will feature insightful commentary from a member of the Columbia College Robert W. Plaster School of Business faculty.
The members of the tech community in Silicon Valley and around the world were thrilled and at the same time anxious on June 7, 2010, the historic moment when the late Steve Jobs introduced the new iPhone 4 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. App technology was the major contributing factor for the tremendous success of the iPhone 4 and all the ensuing versions of smartphones, which now represent the 21st century’s most powerful computing environments for both businesses and households.
As the hi-tech industry evolves, mobile apps have enhanced information technology products around the globe. They consist of computer programs specifically intended for mobile devices such as mobile phones, tablets, watches and other wearables. The concept of platform universality enables users to have access to their favorite apps from either their desktops or laptops.
Many technology experts argue that according to the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), an individual’s behavioral intention to use technology like apps is determined by two important factors: its perceived ease of use, and its perceived usefulness. Arguably, the app technology is easy to use in the sense that end-users enable to execute seamlessly transactions in real-time with amazing speed and great accuracy with the mere touch of a finger.
Regarding the notion of perceived usefulness, app technology is now the forefront of business software development and IT infrastructure design for the next generation of the Gig Economy. Most organizations have invested heavily in the development of their company`s app, in conjunction with the official corporate website, to have direct access to the existing or potential customers.
Examples abound of companies using this IT strategy, namely Grubhub, Uber, Airbnb and eBay. For the same reason, Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza have attained greater success by connecting to their existing customers to build a sustainable relationship.
Furthermore, app developers have successfully streamlined important services ranging from banking, insurance, education, health, family-care and e-commerce, providing convenience to their consumers. It is fair to say that app technology has greatly impacted social life through social networks, gaming, podcasts and music, as well as watching streaming videos.
Apps including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber have successfully connected business, families and loved ones around the world with free audio and video communication, while others like Twitter and Instagram have created a global platform for geopolitical and socioeconomic activities.
The future of app technology is more promising with the advent of the 5G network, augmented reality (AR), machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and Web Analytics to enhance business expectations and to improve social life. However, it is important to acknowledge the fact that smartphones and other smart devices most at times lack the necessary data security software and might be vulnerable to cyber-attacks including malicious applications and spyware. The second preoccupation is the lack of transparency regarding the use of consumer data and the respect of consumer rights. As companies continue to use complex algorithms to explore consumer data, the issues of data privacy and protection are mostly underestimated. For example, companies tracking user behavior to target advertisements toward users under the age of 12 without the consent of a parent.
In conclusion, the governments of various nations – including the United States and Great Britain – are working with global tech companies to come up with comprehensive legislations to protect personal data, for example the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforced by the European Union. We all need vigilance to protect our smartphones with the needed cyber and data security available in the market. There is equally the need to educate the most vulnerable people, especially minors, about the implications of sharing personal data. It is highly recommended to turn off all relevant data sharing options on smartphones, including location-tracking, when necessary. As compared to past generations, we have the greatest opportunity to use app technology to improve upon our existence, and it is the fervent duty of everyone to help minimize the associated threats with the use of app technology.
Dr. Kennedy K. Amofa is an assistant professor of Business Administration at Columbia College. He currently teaches both master’s and undergraduate courses in management and organizational development. For the previous 12 years, he worked as an IT systems analyst supporting IBM global manufacturing operations in Rochester, Minnesota. He is passionate about advanced research studies in emerging internet technologies and business analytics.