The App Economy: Driving Illinois Technology Economy in New Ways

Over the past few years, much has been made of the evolving “App Economy” but what does it mean it for Illinois? Frankly, a lot and a lot more in the future.

The App Economy refers to a class of lightweight applications specifically designed to run on mobile platforms and openly accessible to drive data and usage. Like most of the country over the past few years, Illinois has seen its fair share of app companies being developed. The easy of development, distribution and integration reduces the cost and risk of deployment. It allows for ideas to get to market much cheaper and faster with immediate customer response.

For Illinois like many other states, it means jobs. According to the national organization TechNet, Illinois is producing 4% of all the app economy jobs nationwide. And most are new jobs! Even more exciting is what is coming next. As the App Economy grows it is evolving. The strongest apps are growing into much more robust companies with deep software expertise to manage processes and data. Companies that once were nothing more than a new way to deliver quick information are giving way to full blow software and service companies that are transforming industries.

No one industry dominates Illinois. The core of Illinois economy has always been in a number of industries including logistics, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and marketing & advertising to name just a few. As the skills of building “apps” are combined with the domain expertise of specific industries, it is radically changing the way these B2B companies do business. The synergies have ramifications that go far beyond Illinois and put us in a leadership position in some industries nationally and globally. That is transformative for Illinois.

Organizations such as the Illinois Technology Association, 1871/CEC and a multitude of meetups are doing all they can to support the growth of these companies. From connecting peers to share and gain insight, to finding talent to fuel these companies, to raising the visibility of a wide swath of companies, there is much to do. The result will be that as the App Economy scales, and at times melds more fully, with the long standing technology industry in Illinois, it will bring a decade of strong growth for the technology industry. So the next time you pay that bill with your phone or find a supplier via an app, realize that it’s much, much more than just an easy way to do things.

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© 2020 | Fred Hoch

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