Blog 53

Andrew Daniels, MD

using a mobile phone

Since 2006, the mobile market has been awash with Smartphones. The utility and practicality of apps has historically been the bread and butter of these devices, making difficult or tedious tasks simple and quick. Nearly ten years down the line from their explosion in popularity, app developers have turned into million pound companies. As the demand for business apps increases, so too does the supply.

Developers ranging from independent companies to Windows, Apple and Google all develop a whole array of apps. The best business apps for iPad, iPhones and all mobile devices have been flooding the market. Now, nearly every aspect of day to day business has an app to help you do it quicker, and on the go.

If you run a business of any size, it’s essential to have access to apps. Performing simple social media functions or complex cloud sharing systems, the modern Smartphone puts yesterday’s PDAs to shame.

We’ve looked at 6 types of apps that can perform a wide range of functions that all businesses can take full advantage of. Degree 53 are pioneers of app development and have an eye for function and design. If you’re thinking of making some software additions to your device’s app collection, read on and see the best on offer.

Social Media

Social Media has played one of the largest roles in increasing connectivity and communication online. Users from all across the world can now communicate instantly, finding new connections through current links and setting up talks for work, advice, or just a friendly chat.

For businesses looking to keep an eye on the whole social media sphere, Hootsuite is a great business solution. Combining analytics, scheduled posts and collaboration, Hootsuite provides access and data for Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Foursquare. With specialist business options for small (0 - 500) or larger (500+) companies, they’re great for any business big in online presence.

Highly Recommended: if you had to choose one social media app for your phone, it would have to be Linkedin.

Linkedin is the ultimate business social media site, helping you develop connections, get professional endorsement from others and post the latest business content. With the busy day to day tasks of company business, this app is a perfect way to track the latest industry trends and find out about colleagues and business partner’s activity.

Meetings/staying in contact

interacting with apps

All Smartphones and even tablets now have not only microphones but also cameras, allowing for low cost video conferencing on the move. Rather than having to go to an office or business centre, there are a number of apps specialised for allowing people to get in contact with one another through their smart devices.

HipChat is a team chat app that’s specifically designed for business use. Offering private group chat, video conferencing and screen sharing, for internal business communication it’s carving a niche in the market for it’s business led design.

For business using Google software, the Hangouts plugin allows desktops and mobile devices to connect up to multiple party video calls. This makes a larger meeting with multiple parties much easier, allowing anybody invited to connect through their personal devices.

Highly Recommended: An issue that plagues business communication software is that all parties are required to install the app in order to connect, however, Skype offers by far one of the best and most accessible services. Available on all devices, it’s free of charge for download and is a market leader in the field of video conferencing. With instant messaging options included, it’s a great all rounder for businesses and individuals.

Cloud File Sharing

Cloud storage looks set to take over the digital world over the next few years, with every company and service provider creating their own cloud fuelled software suites. We’ll be talking about some of the larger business software suites in the next section, but here we’ll be looking in particular at file sharing.

Apps such as Dropbox have business specified services for a monthly charge. Allowing files to be shared across a wide range of devices, the system is easy to use, sharing files with those who hold a Dropbox account. From documents to videos, Dropbox, as well as Apple’s iCloud, and Google Drive all offer instant uploading and downloading capabilities, as well as editing privileges.

Highly Recommended: Whilst the future may hold further development for file sharing software by the big companies, Hightail is currently one of the best ways to securely and quickly send large files. With creative businesses and those sending large amounts of data in mind, it allows you to send large amounts of data as email attachments without worrying about attachment size restraints.

On top of this, it can allow those who aren’t members of hightail to receive files. For mobile devices, file streaming is available rather than taking up storage space. It even allows for signing documents to confirm payments and funding for a business leader on the move.

Office Software anywhere

box of apps

Whilst apps such as Evernote allow word processing and editing from a mobile device, the bulk of work is still performed on desktops by purpose developed software for a single platform. But this is changing.

Nearly every company will utilise Word Processing, Email, Presentation and Spreadsheet software. These are currently available in app form in a number of ways. Current Smartphone market leaders would be Google Apps. Offering email, immediate collaboration on files stored on their online drives, and synchronised calendars. It has a whole host of creative business apps that connect all platforms.

Software giants such as Apple look to be entering the frey too, with iWork currently in Beta mode offering businesses the use of the iCloud, showing signs that this is a growing industry over the next few years.

Highly Recommended: Whilst Windows might not currently have the lion’s share of apps compared to Android or Apple, their office software was and is the first choice for nearly every business worth their salt. Microsoft Office 365 works on all devices and offers the same high quality, industry standard software anywhere and on anything. As cloud technology develops, keep your eye on Microsoft, they’re the experts in office software.

Finance

Financing can often be a slow and arduous task, weighing down a business either waiting on accountants to complete their reports, or using time better spent in other parts of a business. Fortunately, there are a number of apps that make keeping track of finances and budgeting easy and efficient.

PwC’s finance management app My Finance Partner is a cloud based service. For those that are already clients of the PwC company, then this is a nifty on the go app that will help you keep track of business finances, perfect for quick project budgeting.

For those looking for a cheaper option, Mint is an excellent choice for personal finance. Budgeting on a business trip or just managing day to day finances becomes an incredibly easy thing. On top of this, reports and data analysis can be presented clearly and immediately, cutting the time between an accountant gathering data to send over.

Highly Recommended: The highly recommended app in this section would have to be Receipt Bank. Whilst Mint is an excellent app, Receipt Bank offers a solution to small business and larger companies that is a miracle. Taking a photo of an expenses receipt or invoice, it is then stored in an online database, along with every other receipt sent. These can be turned into a report on request.

Remember the frustration as a self employed business, or a travelling employee of having to keep track of every receipt for reimbursement? This becomes a thing of the past with Receipt Bank.

Travel plans

Last, but certainly not least, are travel apps. These are designed to help keep everything for the business (or leisure) traveler together, from tickets to hotel bookings and beyond. As more and more things become digital, there’s a growing need for the software to develop too.

Passbook

Apple’s own ticket app, comes as standard on all Apple mobile devices, and can store loyalty cards, sports event tickets, plane tickets and more. So popular has the software proven that even Microsoft are now supporting it.

Highly Recommended: Whilst Passbook is proving a valuable app, we’d recommend Tripit as a great addition to any mobile device. With the ability to search through your email inbox to pull out travel and booking confirmation messages that are collated and saved for later, it’s the perfect digital PA. Not only does it save the tickets, but it will also produce an itinerary based on your existing reservations, and offer you to plan your trip further.

Tripit is a great dynamic app with a lot of features that make organising your business trip that little bit easier.

Must-have apps for every business leader

iphone icons

The future looks bright for mobile devices and business. As the bigger companies begin developing the heavy lifting apps for cloud enabled office systems, so too will innovative smaller apps become available. From this list we hope that you’ve seen some of the great ways that apps can help make your business run even smoother.

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