When Apple first opened the App Store, we saw that most apps available were consumer facing, recreational software — games, entertainment, and social media.
The enterprise was slow to adopt mobile. First was watching to see if mobile was going to catch on, then there was fear of security, and finally confusion of how the corporate world could leverage these small but mighty bits of software. Today, we know mobile has caught on; the software has matured and proven its reliability, and now we’ve seen many platforms successfully conquer to expand and strengthen their offerings.
Here are three examples of excellent commercial apps for mobile business. If you run a business, you should be using these. If you’re trying to figure out your mobile strategy, take some notes. Today we’re going to talk about Skype, Quickbooks, and Basecamp.
The advantage of mobile is that we’re always connected. Between 4G/LTE and widespread WiFi access points, we’re rarely without a data connection. We don’t need to rush back to our office to answer questions, we can catch up on conversations during the daily commute, and we can ping colleagues on-the-go.
Every business and team needs a communication infrastructure. Skype has been thoroughly adopted throughout the enterprise landscape, and their mobile offering is strong enough to support your infrastructure on-the-go. This makes it seamless for everyone, especially remote colleagues, to communicate no matter where they are.
- Never miss calls or messages from clients or colleagues — Push notifications alert me for messages or calls when I’m available. And they turn off when I’m unavailable.
- Seamless experiences — I can continue conversations on mobile, picking up where I left off on desktop. I can also sync my phone and Skype contacts.
- Recent Activity — scrolling through activity and contact lists is painful on mobile, having a recent activity section mitigates that and facilitates engagement.
What I’ve learned from running different businesses is that always having a completely up to date snapshot of your financials is essential for operations and decision making.
Of course I like my accounting personnel to manage Quickbooks, and I doubt anyone is likely to perform most of their accounting from a phone. Though I very frequently use Quickbooks Mobile on the go to search recent transactions, check balances, and verify payments. It’s also handy to look up client contact information. This is great for decision making in the middle of meetings and keeping a strong grasp on the financials.
- Secure access control — log in to your account for security, enter PIN each time it’s opened for speed and verification
- Immediate financial operations — mark invoices paid if someone hands me a check, process transactions with GoPayment, record expense receipts.
- More security — the app screen is hidden while in the background, overlookers and sensitive data are protected from accidental displays
Project and task management is an integral part of business operations. Having good tools helps to increase productivity, facilitate collaboration, and remove blockers. Basecamp is a widespread favorite, and it has a great mobile interface. The important points here are that you want your tools to integrate and improve your workflow, not create obstacles.
- No learning curve — the mobile app’s feature parity and consistency with the desktop experience makes it quick and easy to navigate and understand.
- Streamlined workflows — For project management and task review, I can take screenshots from my device and attach them directly, without needing to transfer/import pictures to desktop first. I can also check-off tasks immediately as I complete them. It eliminates steps and wasted time.
- Executive Summaries — PMs and workers can quickly review the daily stream and see if there’s anything they need to respond to. Executives can get a quick pulse on their team.
Having a solid mobile offering creates a lot of opportunities for any platform or service. It’s an always-on communication channel, which can boost user engagement in a big way. It’s an additional touch point, and value add, that can be used to upsell your existing offerings. It also reinforces your technology, allowing users to check-in and interact on the go.