WHILE there has been much excitement about opportunities available to small businesses with the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), there is not much information available on the state of the app economy.

Franco Eisma, business development manager of Amazon Web Services in Southeast Asia, noted that there was a lack of research and data on the topic for Southeast Asia, unlike in the United States and Europe.

Although close to each other, Eisma pointed out that the cultures of Asean countries are very different from one another, so that it could be a challenge for app developers to work on uniformity to conform to regional preferences. Aside from different cultures, they will also have to contend with the different stages of economic development in each country.

He said app developers might have to customize their apps to reach each market. While he expects the mobile app economy to grow quickly in the region, he believes it will be fragmented due to the differences in preference and consumption habits of each country.

With many things uncertain, Eisma said the best way to survive is to be able to change things quickly and be flexible to what the market wants.

At his company, he said, they focus on things that remain important to customers such as cost, speed and efficiency.

Eisma also saw the need for more resources spent on software development testing. He explained that once something has been made public, it will be difficult and costly to make big changes to meet the demands of the market. “Lower the cost of experimentation to innovate faster,” he told participants of the recently held Cebu ICT-BPM Conference at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

Eisma said app developers would do well to develop applications that can build and deploy from the cloud because it allows companies to be more productive. It also allows companies to develop faster and augment their existing data resources.

He also said apps that allow businesses to work seamlessly without IT problems distracting them from their core business will be needed.