It’s no secret that business apps are changing the landscape of modern business on every front. But, as the findings of a recent Harvard Business Review study reveal, there is one secret that serves as a dividing line between those organizations leading the revolution and those playing a constant game of catch-up — and that secret lies in the word transformation.

Industry leaders aren’t treating business apps as trends, or as quick-fix Band-Aids to address niche marketing and sales problems. They’re looking at business apps as a way to transform the way they do business from the ground up, breaking down silos between departments and establishing a cross-team approach to customer obsession.

“This revolution is not simply one of cutting costs or speeding up existing processes,” says Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research Group. “At its best, this is about changing the game from reactive to proactive, from transaction to true process.”

So what can we learn from these business app leaders, who report significant payoff in both sales revenue and profitability? Check out our three key takeaways from this report below.

Think high-level

When it comes to business apps, leaders aren’t obsessing over specific features and functionality — they’re focused on the big picture. Research indicates that leaders are more likely to integrate apps across multiple departments; in fact, 66% report that their apps are managed as part of an overall digital strategy at the executive level. As businesses grow and mature, this need for integration becomes critical, so starting with the end goal in mind and building a widespread app ecosystem can put your business a step ahead.

Go bigger

Business app leaders also aren’t slowing down on adoption: “We’ve probably added 20 different add-on products into parts of the ecosystem over the last two years,” says Brian Vass of Paycor, a payroll and HR software and services company enjoying record-setting growth. “We wouldn’t be able to grow at 35–40% a year if we didn’t have these kind of apps.” Research indicates leaders like Paycor are likely to take an omnibus approach to implementing new apps, obtaining them from a variety of sources including in-house development, third-party developers, and platform-based app marketplaces.

Start now

If you’re just getting started implementing business apps into your overall strategy, you’re not alone: a little over half of survey respondents still consider their implementations to be early-stage. However, the 37% of respondents reporting widespread usage of apps provide an enlightening glimpse into potential payoff — and with significant increases across productivity, efficiency, and sales performance, the gap will likely continue to widen between business app leaders and those who trail behind. Leaders are also 10% more likely to report increased innovation — a critical element in today’s competitive landscape and an even more compelling reason to get started now.

“Agility and innovation have been burning issues driving business strategies for the past several years,” says Allan Frank, global IT advisory practice principal at The Hackett Group. “You can’t save your way into prosperity — you have to know how to innovate new products and have the agility to constantly focus on your customers.”

We hear that: innovation and an obsessive focus on customers are always at the top of our priority list, and we can’t wait to see how we can get there faster this year — with a little help from our favorite apps, of course.

Looking for more insightful stats? Download the full report for more information, and be sure to check out 15 Success Stories of Business Growth with Apps to learn how real businesses are transforming the way they work with business apps.