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App Development is the Next Big Nashville Industry

Mobile development goes hand-in-hand with all the Music City’s existing strengths.

The best apps are the ones you never think about. That doesn’t mean they’re unknown—it means those apps that have become so seamlessly integrated into daily routines that people use them without conscious thought. Calling a car, reading the news, checking the weather, banking, even finding a date: Our everyday lives are increasingly enabled by apps.

It’s not just corporate giants who offer apps any more—they’re now an expected offering of reputable small and medium-sized businesses. And the app development scene is diversifying away from its traditional home in Silicon Valley.

The next big hotbed for app development? Nashville.

Nashville offers the perfect combination of factors to make it a mobile app boomtown, and the rush is already starting. Blink, and suddenly the city is full of apps and the companies that make them—big national names, and innovative local players. So why Nashville? And why now?

Nashville is Blowing Up (But You Knew That Already)

Stand on any street corner in Nashville, and you’ll see the signs (literally—new signs). New restaurants, new co-working spaces. New startups, new headquarters. It’s no secret: Music City is booming.

The Nashville job market grew 4 percent between 2016-2017, faster than any other city in the nation with more than a million residents. During that time, about 100 new people moved to the city every day—and yet numbers show that there still aren’t enough people in Nashville to meet the employment needs of economic expansion.

Nashville’s growth is driven by a multitude of intersecting industries—notably healthcare, tech, and of course, music. The city’s healthcare companies alone produce $84 billion in annual revenue. Vanderbilt health system, Healthcare Corporation of America (HCA), and Ardent Health Services anchor more than 500 other business in the sector, fueling a vibrant small business and startup scene.

Nashville’s tech scene is growing too. Ride-sharing app Lyft opened a Nashville office in 2015—it’s the largest Lyft office outside of San Francisco, employing 750 people (not to mention the $31 million that Nashville Lyft drivers earned in 2017). In 2018, two separate scooter sharing companies, Bird and Lime, launched service in Nashville. Email newsletter services company Emma, founded in Nashville in 2001, now generates $20 million in annual revenue and competes with heavyweights like Constant Contact and MailChimp. And venture capitalists usually associated with Silicon Valley or Wall Street, including Google Venturs, Oak HC/FT, Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Nashville startups every year.

Then, of course, there’s music. Nashville has the highest concentration of music-related businesses in the country (a 2012 report pegged the industry’s contribution the local economy at nearly $10 billion), and music is the drive for a host of other sectors, including tourism, hospitality, and entertainment. As a cultural hub, Nashville is an attractive place to live, especially for young professionals. The creative scene lures in talented individuals and companies looking to expand or relocate, driving business growth of all types.

Apps Are the Future (But also the Present)

You might have noticed something about the tech example listed above: most are services built on mobile apps. That’s no coincidence. 71 percent of all digital traffic in the US comes from mobile devices. That’s nearly five hours of mobile usage a day for the average person, and 90 percent of that time is spent using apps.

Forrester Research principal analyst Thomas Husson calls mobile apps “the bridge the physical world.” They allow for the full power of the internet to be portable and customized, and useful in your daily life. The Pew Research Internet Project goes even further, claiming that by 2020, the traditional world wide web will largely be considered unimportant in comparison to mobile apps, which will be “the dominant factor in people’s lives.” These declarations might sound grandiose, but most tech industry watchers consider them accepted knowledge—and the numbers support that conclusion.   

Apps are crucial way to reach customers for every business, no matter the sector or size. A booming economy like Nashville’s means that more companies need mobile app development services on a local level. That same economy also serves as a magnet for national players to bring their own app-based services to town. 

But no matter where you are, it’s tough to create a successful app. While smartphone users downloaded about 200 billion apps last year, 23 percent of apps are only used once after being downloaded, and 80 percent are never used after the first three months. So what makes for a good app?

Social Link knows app development—and we know Nashville. While there’s no one-size-fits all solution, here’s some advice, born of our experience, for Nashville businesses looking to create the killer app:

  • Take a holistic view. Apps are marketing tools, and customer service tools, and sale tools, and lead generation tools, and … you get the idea. Because they serve multiple functions while providing a single touchpoint with the customer, apps need not just functionality, but also effective branding, design, user interface, and content.

 

  • Have a defined purpose. The app should add to the customer experience. It should solve a problem, or provide additional benefits that can only be found with the app—and you (and your mobile developer) should be able to articulate that benefit.

 

  • Data, data, data. The best apps don’t just provide a service; they help businesses better understand customer behavior. This information provides a window into changes in your industry, so that you can stay agile and responsive to customer desires. It’s also a great way to generate repeat business.

 

  • Stay true to your strengths. Apps don’t always need killer tech (though it might help). The best apps leverage and amplify the existing strengths of your business to integrate seamlessly into the life of the customer.

Looking for a mobile development partner in Nashville? Social Link is a full-service digital marketing and mobile development agency that’s here to help. Contact at info@sociallink.com for more information.

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