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Skyscanner Chairman on the key challenges for global app companies

Peter Stojanovic

There are many challenges facing app companies wanting to reach a global audience, but for Margaret Rice-Jones, Chairman of Skycanner, these are the main two.

Skyscanner, the global travel search engine and app, is a success story that is now as global as the flight destinations it has to offer and so has a lot to offer to conversations surrounding the challenges of scaling apps.

After it’s release in 2010, the company immediately saw a favorable public response; service marketplaces are very popular as people get savvier with their money.

Three years later and the company recorded 20 million dowloads. Today, that number is “far more.”

Margaret Rice-Jones, who serves as Chairman of Skyscanner, understands the difficulties of evolving from regional or national success story to international superstar.

Those difficulties may run into the thousands, each specific for any individual company. For Rice-Jones however, the 2 challenges of scaling apps which every firm, large or small, must consider and factor in before making the bold, global, leap are:

“Relevance and localization…”

Rice-Jones explains that a company tries to create a product – in this case an app – that everyone and anyone can use.

However the challenge arises when you consider that everyone will use and review your service differently.

“The way [one] looks at a market isn’t the same over the world…how do you create something…that works in Brazil and China that shows that the company understands [each customer] and what [that customer] needs to do.”

In essence, Rice-Jones is talking about balancing on a knife-point.

“That balance of global or local: it’s not just about being adapted to their language but more about how that country actually perform their tasks that your wanting them to.”

The challenges of scaling apps is a lengthy debate but the first question to ask yourself is can we stay relevant on a large scale and still seem localized?

Ideally, an app should become as accessible as possible to be seen as useful for its customers, whilst delivering a service that is both appropriate and relevant within each culture that it operates in.