The 2018 Seamless Panel: Planet Of The Apps

The 2018 Seamless Panel: Planet Of The Apps

If you have ever asked yourself any of the below questions, then this article might be helpful for you.

  • How can I decide if my business has to have apps, a website, or both?
  • Do I need to start with apps or a website for my business?
  • Shall I develop the desktop version first or the mobile version of my website?
  • When shall I build Android or iOS applications for my business?
  • What value can the apps add to my business?
  • What is the non-logged in feature and what value can it add to my business?
  • Do I need to look into the analytics for my products? Why?
  • Why is AB testing important for my product?


Welcome to Planet of The Apps panel – Seamless 2018 summary article.

I was honored to moderate this panel and get the chance to discuss with the panelists such an interesting topic like this.

The purpose of the panel was to look at how the use of mobile apps affects the way businesses perform.

Here are some interesting facts to get your attention:

  • According to Global Stats for March 2018, the market share in UAE for mobile vs desktop is around 60% mobile vs 37% desktop.
  • According to global Media insight for 2015, 91.9% of UAE residence are internet users and 75.8% of them are mobile internet users

In this panel, we took a look at the key drivers of app development in MENA and look at how companies address the issues around app development from a business perspective.

Three awesome panelists participated in the discussion and gave us their insights into the common issues that businesses may face when considering whether or not to have an app.

After introducing the panelists to the audience I have started the discussion with few questions that all the panelists relate to from the different point of view based on the nature of their products then I have taken the discussion into more specific questions to each panelist according to their product.

Panel Discussion Highlights:

What factors drove your company to build an app vs having a website only?

  1. Samya: The user experience is one of our top priorities and having native apps allowed DU to provide better more personalized UX and help them get their needs in a better way.
  2. Shafayat: We started off with the web version, but we were surprised with the number of users who asked about our apps and when they are going to be released to the market. Flyadeal product nature, which is flight booking, made us not to expect the users to use it very often, but having native apps give you credibility, user trust, and allow you to provide the personalized user experience.
  3. Manar: Having an app was a necessity for our product to ensure better penetration to the market; also considering that fact that users nowadays don’t look for your product on Google anymore, but they look for it on the app stores (iOS or Android).


To what extent do you agree with mobile first strategy as the best approach to developing your product.

  1. Samya: Our analytics show that the majority of our users use the digital portal throw their phones. That’s why we decided to go with the mobile first approach.
  2. Shafayat: 80% of Flyadeal users are mobile users. That’s why we couldn’t ignore the fact that mobile has to come first when it comes to the product planning, design, and development. People nowadays use their phone most of the time and as I mentioned before, we have received clear requests from our users to have native apps.
  3. Manar: There is no need to reiterate on the fact that people use their phone to get their job done when it comes to almost everything. Also, we want Helping Me to be top of mind and frequently used, that’s why apps had to come first.


How much do your companies rely on analytics and tracking user behavior when developing your product?

  1. Samya: In DU, monitoring the analytics is part of our development process to see how users react to every change, measure the ROI and ensure constant improvement. The analytics helped us decide to take the Mobile First approach to our product development by comparing the number of mobile users vs desktop users.
  2. Shafayat: In a startup like Flyadeal we are trying to develop with a very fast base, so it is a bit challenging to ensure fast development as well as consistent monitoring of the analytics. However, we are trying our best to consider the analytics in the lifecycle of our product development.
  3. Manar: We cannot deny the importance of the analytics and the user tracking tools in improving the user experience for our users. We use a lot of tools to help us understand the user engagement with our products across all the different channels and react quickly to the negative reactions from the users.


How has introducing non-logged in features and services increased the conversion?

  1. Samya: We recently started to bring a lot of features before the login stage and we were surprised with the ROI that we experienced because of this. For example, allowing users to pay their bill without login in increased massively number of bills payment online and reduced the load form our customer centers.
  2. Shafayat: I strongly believe that the user should be able to navigate your product and get a sense of what can be done through it before asking them to register. That’s why we moved the login stage to the very end of the booking journey. However, it makes it a bit harder for us to provide personalized user experience since we don’t know who is this user if they are not logged in. It is a trade-off situation.


How do you do AB testing for your product and how helpful are the results of the AB testing to your business. Give us examples.

  • Manar: We strongly believe that applying AB testing before pushing new features helps our business understand the user need and how they react to each change. For example, we have recently tested two versions of our product; one version have a patch says “Made in Germany” and the other version without. The version with the patch had 18% higher conversion than the other which made us realize how small change in the UI can affect the final conversion of the user.


Does enhancing user experience helped DU reduce the cost of human power?

  • Samya: Improving the user experience fo DU users and introducing the non-logged in features such as “Pay as guest” for sure have a positive impact on the load we have on our customer service team. A lot of our customers visit our branches just to pay their bills, so simplifying the process of payment online helped a lot.


My Personal Opinion:

  • I recommend to always start with a website, then let the analytics and the users guide you regarding building an app or not.
  • Integrating analytics tools is very important for your business to help you understand your users more and guide you through your product development journey (mobile vs desktop, web vs apps, gender, location, operating system, frequency .. etc.).
  • Building mobile applications is relatively expensive compared to website considering the cost of having Android developer(s), iOs developer(s), and application designer(s) vs web developer(s) and web designer(s).
  • When you release a new version of a website, it reflects on all your users. However, when you release a new version of your apps, it is hard to get the updated version to all your users. That’s why it is better to validate your features on the web then push it to the apps.
  • AB testing is very important to consider when you have doubts about a feature or a certain design because it will show you how to the user engages with it instead of assuming. (Check out my article about user testing for more info).
  • Unfortunately, users recently started thinking that businesses with apps are more credible than those without apps.
  • It is not recommended to ask the user to register/login once they open your product because it could put some people off. Users are scared these days of sharing their emails and personal data with any products. So please ensure that you only ask the user to register when you really have to.
  • Users recently started looking up the product on the app stores before they look it up on Google.

(1) Samya Chahin:

  • Samya is the Director of Digital Services at du where she is responsible for digital product management for du app and web.
  • She has been with DU Since 2009 and has more than 15 years of experience in the telco industry.
  • She also worked as a technology consultant for different global brands across Europe before coming to Dubai.

(2) Shafayat Miah:

  • Shafayat is a leading digital, innovation, strategy and technology expert with more than 18 years in the industry. He is the head of e-commerce for flyadeal. He is also the Founder and CEO of Flow digital.
  • Flyadeal is an e-commerce product for airlines in all the digital channels where you can book flights. They launched in UAE in September 2017 and will launch in KSA soon. It’s Worth mentioning that around 80% of their users are from mobile.

(3) Manar Alkassar:

  • Manar is the Founder and CEO of Helping middle east. He comes from an engineering and business background and has a lot of experience with startups.
  • Helping Middle East is a product that allows users to book cleaning services.
  • Helping ME Started in Berlin. They’ve raised 80 Million in capital so far.
  • They currently operate in UAE and planning to expand to 10 more cities in the Middle East within the next 5 months.

Special thanks to the Terrapinn team.