How to craft a mobile-application strategy

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Timing is essential to the success of a mobile application. Just ask Richard Peltz, CIO of Marcus and Millichap, a $13.5 billion commercial real estate investment services firm. In January 2010, when the commercial real estate market was starting to emerge from a two-year slump, the company began looking for ways to increase brand awareness and exposure for its 1,200 agents nationwide. Peltz came up with the idea of providing searchable profiles of agents and loan originators on the company's website, which clients could access with their iPhones or Android smartphones.

When Peltz learned that at least one competitor was developing a similar app, speed to market became a high priority. While eliciting input from the marketing group and the vice president of app development, "I pretty much managed the app right off my desk, because I didn't want to take the time to have it managed by committee," he says. He also chose to outsource the development to AT&T, rather than try to get his staff up to speed in mobile programming languages, particularly those for the iPhone, he says.

Deployed in December 2010, the app is now being used by a growing number of real estate investors, and it has generated several leads, Peltz reports. Now comes the hard part: designing and building an enterprise strategy and infrastructure for developing and managing mobile apps over the long term.

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