Hi, everybody. Today, I want to talk to you about digital transformation. And you probably heard a lot of people talking about digital transformation, and it can mean a lot of things. Today, I want to talk to you about one of the most practical ways that you can use to enable your business with digital transformation. And these are web apps. But before we jump into the ‘how’s, I just wanted to spend a little bit of time defining what we’re talking about. And digital transformation actually comes in three steps. The first step is to digitize. Here, we’re talking about turning your analog data into something digital. For example, moving from phone calls into online forms and email, going from paper to Excel, basically bringing your data on a computerized system. The second part is to digitalize. Here, we’re taking an extra step to enhance your existing business and make the data work for you. So this is what we’re going to be discussing today. The second step, and this will enable you to reach the third step, which is digital transformation, where your business model is completely changed by the IT and by the software that you’re using. So here I’m talking about Grab, for example, that forever changed the way we’re ordering food or the way we’re ordering a taxi. This is digital transformation. And all the AI revolution that’s coming that we’re hearing about this year is probably going to enable digital transformation even more. But the first step is to digitalize.
If your data is not in software, there’s nothing you can do to transform your business. All right. So digitalization using web apps. I want to kind of define what a web app is because not everybody is familiar with the term. Basically, a web application is an application that is running into a browser. It’s running somewhere on the internet, and you’re just opening your web browser on your desktop computer, or it can be on your mobile. You’re typing a URL and you can access a web application. You didn’t install anything. It’s just there and it’s running in your browser. So I want to give you a few examples. For example, if you’re booking a flight on, let’s say, AirAsia, you’re going into a website and at the top you have a booking engine. This is actually a web app that is seamlessly integrated into a website. You have nothing to do specifically. You just type. You just go on the website and you have some kind of dynamic content on there. And it’s the exact same thing if we’re talking about hotels booking. And here I took the Agoda example, and I just want to stress the fact that if you’re opening the Agoda website on your mobile phone, I’m not talking about the app here, just the website, you can still use the booking system. You’re actually interacting with a web app. Of course, you can also install the app and have an even more interactive experience on mobile.
But web apps can literally run anywhere where a browser is present that includes even your TV, for example. All right. Even social networks are actually web applications. If you open your desktop computer, you connect on LinkedIn, you’re actually interacting with a web application. So if any website can be a web application, what really defines what a web application is? Well, the answer is that you can interact with it. So a website is here to inform. It has static content, and a web app is something you can interact with. The content is dynamic and here is the important definition. If the user’s input changes the output, then you’re dealing with a web app. For example, I go on my LinkedIn profile and I’m going to post a new piece of content. The content will then display on everybody else’s newsfeed. So my input changed the output, hence it’s a web app. All right, end of definition. Let’s look at how we can solve real business problems with a web app. And those are actual real projects that we worked on here at Lexicon. For example, you could build a web app to manage your properties. This is what we did for Coastal. We built a custom property management system that is seamlessly integrated with their website. This means that their employees can access a backend, add properties, manage agents and all this will directly impact the website.
So everything is always up to date and it’s actually a tool that they use in their everyday workflow. So it’s enforcing the way that their employees will work. It’s actually improving the business processes while helping their customers to reach out to them directly and to have fresh information. So it’s a really good example of how a web app can help a business, especially a B2C business. Another example, the British Club booking app. So this is a real example of digitization of a business. The British club was handling bookings over the phone, over email. So they have a lot of tennis courts, they have restaurants, they have massage, and a lot of members that can book one of those resources at any time. Everything was handled manually. Of course, it takes time. It can be frustrating for their customers because they have to call. They have to make sure that the thing is available. Maybe there is a double booking. Difficult to handle. With a web app, people can just choose what they want to book. They can click for a time slot that is available and receive an immediate confirmation. There is no more need of having a human to interact with, and that’s great actually, because it frees their staff to focus on things that are much more important than handling bookings. So that’s another way you can use a web app. Very interesting thing here in Thailand, you can also integrate them with a LINE official.
So if you go on the LINE official and you click on ‘Book’, actually what’s opening there is a web app. All right. Another example, and one of my favorite is the Central Pattana parking application that we worked on. So if you drive a car in Bangkok and sometime you go to the mall, maybe you had this problem, you completely forgot where you parked. Or even worse, you come back to your car and there is someone else parked in front of you, right? So with this web app, you can just, people can just scan a QR code on the nearest pillar. When they arrive, the app will remember where they parked. Of course, it’s an opportunity for the mall to display the local floor plan, the promotions, and if you have a problem with your car, you can just push a button. Someone will come to help you. And of course everything is measurable. So the mall will know how long it takes for the security guard to come to help. And they will know who is checking for a promotion or not. So it’s also a way to gain data on all the customer interactions and to gain insight, of course, of what you can improve. So a web app is not only a way to improve the way you communicate with your customers, but it’s also a way to measure your own KPIs, which is very important for any business.
So do you need a web app? I think today most businesses that are past the growing pains need a web app, they need to bring their process online. So if you have a repeatable process that you’re presently handling manually, probably yes, you need a web app. If you struggle with process knowledge that is too tied to an individual, you probably need a web app. If you’re drowning in Excel sheets, that’s also the first solution would be a web app. So overall, a web app will allow you to scale a repeatable process. And it’s not that expensive. Actually, a web app can be built in chunks and you can start with a core process that you want to automate and then move forward and add features as you go. So under a million baht can actually give you a good first web application that will save you a lot not only in labor costs, but also improve your processes and your customer experience.
So in conclusion, for me, web apps are really a cornerstone of digitalization. They are affordable for all sizes of business. You can start small and they are also cost effective and flexible. And it’s a way to own your own IP, right? It’s something that belongs to you. You don’t have to pay third party fees. It’s something that you can take with you wherever you go. So it’s actually something that becomes part of your business. I hope I gave you some good ideas and answers on how web apps can help your business. And I’ll see you soon.
About the Author
Maxime Schmitt is CTO at Lexicon over 15 years of experience as a software developer with a specialism in developing progressive web applications. Maxime is a leader of the British Chamber of Commerce Digital Technology Committee and a regular guest speaker on web applications.
Lexicon is an award-winning brand storytelling agency focusing on telling impactful stories for clients based in Thailand and South East Asia. As well as integrated tech solutions, they also help tell clients’ stories through social media, branding and video production in Bangkok.