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Build vs. Buy - Why Utilities Should Outsource Mobile App Development

March 22, 2023

As utility companies try to find new ways to improve customer engagement, reduce costs, and increase operational efficiency, many are turning to mobile apps for help. With features like bill payment, usage tracking, outage reporting, and customer support, offering a mobile app helps support utility customer satisfaction cost-effectively.

The popularity and prevalence of mobile apps have made them a preferred channel for consumers to engage with their utility. Our recent research found that iOS and Android were the only channels to receive positive growth in opt-in rates for outage notifications. To back this up, we found that during the December 2022 winter storm, 86% of users chose their mobile devices to access outage maps powered by Storm Center™. This trend of interacting with one's utility through mobile devices is not limited to outage communications. A 2022 Chartwell report stated that customers paying via mobile app give the highest ease-of-use ratings to their utilities. When you add it all up, customers are looking for mobile-first experiences from their utility providers, and there is no better way to deliver that than through a mobile app.

These stats present a compelling case for utilities to have a mobile app, but should utilities build their own or outsource it to experts? Though some organizations have the resources and technical expertise in-house, outsourcing app development has multiple advantages. Here are some reasons to consider outsourcing.

Development Expertise

Mobile app development requires specialized skills and expertise, which not all utilities have in-house. By outsourcing, there’s no need to train or hire a team to create the app. Working with a technology partner gives utilities access to a team of developers with experience and know-how in building high-quality mobile apps. 

Resources to Scale

Customer needs are constantly changing, requiring utility companies to stay nimble and react to these changes. Outsourcing is a more viable option when scaling a mobile app. Working with an app development company allows utilities to scale their product without hiring and training new staff to manage their app’s expansion. An outsourced mobile app development partner would always have the necessary personnel to grow a utility’s app and wouldn’t need to hire new staff to meet its growing needs.

Development Speed

Getting mobile apps from concept into the hands of consumers can be a time-consuming project with multiple teams involved and inevitable complexities along the way. Because of this, delays can happen, particularly for organizations that choose to build their apps in-house and are new to the process. These delays are costly and can impact the go-to-market rollout. Choosing to outsource app development to experts can significantly reduce the development speed. These companies are well-oiled machines with the people and processes to streamline mobile app development. The result is that utility companies get their app to market faster and at less cost.

Cost Effectiveness 

Developing mobile apps can be costly, especially for utility companies that don't have the expertise in-house and need to invest in technology and staffing to make it happen. Companies that focus solely on mobile app development already have the necessary resources and can also spread these costs over multiple projects to make app development more cost-effective for their clients. This way, utilities can keep the cost of developing an app low and only pay for the services they need.

Focus on Expertise

Utilities serve a vital role in society by supplying reliable power and maintaining critical infrastructure to keep the lights on and water running in homes and businesses. Developing a mobile app is not necessarily one of the key focus areas for utilities - nor should it be. Outsourcing app development allows utilities to focus on providing essential services to their communities and leave the app development to the experts.

KUBRA Specializes in Utility App Development

KUBRA iMobile™ enables utilities to build and launch their own mobile apps. Utilities can develop stronger relationships with their customers by providing a range of self-service tools designed for Android and iOS devices.

Learn more about how Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative implemented KUBRA iMobile to increase customer engagement.

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