There are benefits in choosing to partner with a mobile platform provider over building a mobile app in-house; however, it is also important to be able to differentiate mobile partners that specialize in the higher ed space among nonexclusive mobile vendors.
The Role of the Non-Exclusive Mobile Vendor Non-exclusive mobile vendors are companies that make mobile apps for anyone that hires them. They do not specialize in any one space and typically have a bare bones platform which they add onto in order to fit their clients’ needs. But what if a higher ed institution doesn’t know exactly what it needs? If this is an institution’s first attempt at implementing a mobile platform for their students and administrators, then it is very possible they wouldn't know which features to include. Institutions may have goals mapped out, such as increasing student retention, communication and engagement, which they plan to achieve through the implementation of a mobile platform; however, deciding which exact mobile platform features would help achieve these goals is a far more difficult task.
The Role of a Mobile Platform Partner that Specializes in Higher Ed As the name suggests, mobile platform partners don’t just work for their clients, but rather alongside of them. The institution’s goals become the partner’s goals and due to the partner’s knowledge of the higher ed space, they would be able to help guide the institution in the right direction. Also, thanks to the mobile partner's other higher ed clients, they would have an extensive bank of knowledge and data that they could look to in order to solve any problems or challenges that might come up over the course of the platform’s development. Another great advantage of partnering with a mobile platform provider (rather that hiring a generic mobile app vendor) is that once the app is developed, the institution has access to a qualified team of customer service professionals. This department can then assist the institution in successfully launching the platform, integrating it into everyday student and admin life, as well as completing any updates which may need to be done. With a typical generic mobile app vendor, institutions might not get this type of care and follow through since once the app has been developed, the vendor’s duties are technically over.