While much attention is given to the coolest personal apps, the rise of business apps is a trend that cannot be overlooked. The number of smartphones and mobile technologies in businesses of all sizes has exploded in the last few years with apps that help you do your job and run your business better.
According to statista.com, in September, business apps were the second-most popular category, with more than 100 billion apps downloaded from the App Store. Gaming apps are the most popular category, generating more than $1 million dollars per day. Other high-revenue producing apps include e-commerce, advertising, contracts and subscriptions. Travel and lifestyle apps saw the largest growth. Medical and navigation apps have the least use.
Most larger businesses and corporations have their own apps for employees and customers. Smaller businesses tend to utilize apps developed by other sources that are available for free or at a low cost.
Dennis Burks, who owns a State Farm Insurance Agency in Prescott, says he uses the software and apps developed by State Farm for the majority of his business needs. His customers can use State Farm’s Pocket Agent app to review their policies, make a claim, contact an agent after hours, upload pictures and more. Burks says digital technology, such as smartphones and constant access to the Internet, has been the biggest and best change to the industry. “I can do everything I need to do, except shake their hand, using my phone, iPad or laptop. Technology allows us to provide great customer service.”
Judy Bluhm, a realtor with Century 21 AZ West, loves the location-driven app provided through the national office that allows her to see all properties that are for sale or rent in a given area. The app also uses GPS on her phone to alert her to properties in close proximity to where she is. “This means, if I have client who wants to purchase a home within two miles of Thumb Butte, I drive up toward the area, turn on the app and I can see on my phone all the available properties, not just those listed with Century 21. This makes connecting buyers and sellers so much faster and easier.” Bluhm also uses contact management apps to help her keep track of clients, phone calls, follow up, etc.
Homecare and home health agencies like Vista Hospice may choose an app such as HR Inflections, which allows their staff to record working hours and tasks or patients on their phones. This is especially handy since the majority of their staff members are seeing patients in the patients’ homes, which requires working long, random hours, going from patient to patient. Recording hours on a timesheet is obsolete and going to an office to clock in and out is not practical.
Molly Schulz, a financial advisor with Edward Jones, uses apps on her Apple Watch. Like Burks and Bluhm, most of her business apps come from the corporate level. However, the personal apps she uses are just as important. “When I get an email, my watch gives me a little tap to alert me. It is up to me whether or not I look at my watch or respond, or I can stay fully focused on the people I am talking with at the time. I can access my emails, phone messages, texts, calendars, etc., all from my watch, which also shows the time.” Schulz says the wrist device also tracks her activity and steps and reminds her every hour to get up from her desk and stretch or walk and drink some water.
New apps are popping up daily. Crowd Mic turns anyone’s smartphone into a microphone. The app is used at conferences and large group meetings so participants can be heard when speaking or asking questions: “Just speak into the phone, please.” Periscope is a live video-streaming platform. It allows you to video-record and broadcast to anywhere in the entire world, giving small businesses an easy way to communicate with customers in real time. (It can even be used for drunk drivers to broadcast themselves driving home, which led to the arrest of a woman in Lakeland, Florida.)
Some businesses prefer to keep it old school. John’s Corner Music Shop in Prescott Valley likes to keep it simple and put pen to paper for most communication and documentation.
Whether you choose to app or not to app, the goal is to find and use the tools that streamline processes, provide great customer service and keep your business (and life) organized, productive and, of course, fun. QCBN
Popular Apps to Consider
By Starla Collins, QCBN
Most apps fall into one of following categories. Here are some of the more popular apps in each category:
- Business productivity: Apps that help you work faster, better, smarter.
– Audio Memos lets you take recordings and save them in Dropbox.
– Evernote is a note-taking app that is chock full of features.
– LectureNotes lets you scribble pictures and diagrams.
- Business social networking: Stay connected to colleagues and coworkers.
– Addappt keeps your contact list up to date automatically.
– Campfire is a simple, no frills group chat.
– CardMunch turns business cards into LinkedIn connections.
– LinkedIn is the ultimate business social network.
- Business travel/entertainment: Help for business trips and meeting.
– Mileage Tracker automatically tracks your reimbursable mileage.
– Waze maps your route using crowd-sourced traffic reports.
– Car Locator remembers where you parked your car.
– FlightTrack keeps tabs on flights worldwide.
– Komutta helps you find your way with public transit.
- Calendar/To-Do: Keep your projects organized.
– Asana helps your team get stuff done.
– Checkmark keeps you organized and productive.
– Clear makes your to-do list more manageable.
– Fantastical makes your calendar easier to use.
– Remember the Milk organizes your projects and deadlines.
- Communication: Talk, text, meet, connect.
– LogMeIn lets you tap into your PC from afar.
– Blue Jeans Network lets you video chat with anyone.
– Silent Phone protects your phone calls and texts from snoops.
– Cisco WebEx Meetings lets you hold meetings on the road.
– FoxFi ensures you’ll always have an Internet connection.
– Wi-Fi Finder helps you locate the nearest WiFi.
- Finance/Expenses: Bill customers, track expenses.
– Expensify keeps track of your expense report receipts.
– Time Recording turns your phone into a time sheet.
– Square Register turns your phone or tablet into a cash register.
- Scanning/Printing: Help with paperwork.
– CamScanner turns your phone into a scanner.
– HP ePrint lets you print from anywhere.
- Security: Keep other people out of your business.
– Hotspot Shield VPN protects you when using public WiFi.
– My Secret Folder protects your documents and phone if it ever gets stolen.
– LastPass keeps track of your passwords. QCBN