It's incredible to think about, but "apps" only really took off nine years ago. When Apple introduced the App Store back in 2008, how we interacted with our phones changed completely. Suddenly they were infinitely more versatile, whether we were looking to use them for work, or for play. Businesses needed to have an app, because that was where the customer was. And if you didn't have one of those then you were at real risk of being seen as obsolete by your customers.

According to Gartner, we are heading into a 'post-app' 'era, and the rules are going to be re-written all over again.

How other businesses are staying nimble

Just what does 'post-app' mean, and how will it impact on my business?

Gartner has observed that people are using fewer apps now, even as they're using their phones and other mobile devices more. Research suggests that Australians are spending over ten hours per day on devices, and taking into account that a lot of that is spending time on computer screens at work and discounting that from the total, there is still up to three hours per day in which we are looking at mobile or tablet screens.

of Australians are in the habit of checking their phones as soon as we wake up in the morning

Yet only 33 percent of people were using six to ten apps per month, which is a drop of 6.2 percent from a year ago.

This is because there is a move towards virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and messaging/communication platforms, where users expect to get more done unburdened by applications. This is what Gartner means with "post-app".

The growth in these areas cannot be understated. Another analyst organisation, Ovum, has predicted that by 2021, the number of native digital assistants installed on phones will exceed 7.5 billion active devices; that’s right, more than the current world population.

How you can keep your business in the loop

Taking advantage of the post-app world

What this all boils down to, is that brands now have the opportunity to use automation and AI to deepen their relationship with customers. The VPA will be a leading part of this trend, as people rely on this technology to streamline the experience of interacting with a brand, but it's more than just VPAs. Critical to the post-app world is the idea that more of the data is stored in the Cloud than on the device.And the device then leverages the power of that cloud to deliver a comprehensive experience than can be navigated within the physical boundaries of a single device.

Customers and clients expect to be able to communicate efficiently with a brand, for example. Communications and messaging technology will play a critical role in our post-app society, with so much of the experience being handled from a single hub, to allow for a seamless interaction experience that will ensure that calls aren't missed and the client is able to contact the right person at any point in time.

Another analyst organisation, Frost & Sullivan, has made the prediction that by 2020, the customer experience will overtake product performance and pricing as the primary opportunity for differentiation by a brand.

That's quite a huge prediction to make, when you think about it. Traditionally, a company providing exceedingly high levels of service for a premium price was seen as a luxury by the mainstream consumer, but we're going to see that become the standard.