With more than 100,000 apps and two billion downloads, the App Store has truly reached critical mass. Both consumers and business professionals alike have come to expect that there is an app to solve almost any need that arises. Here is a look at some of the best iPhone apps available to improve your business productivity.
An app for almost anything
In truth, there’s not an iPhone app for everything just yet. But the collection of iPhone apps for business continues to grow rapidly. We’re at the point of critical mass now; the number of apps available through the App Store is exploding. Soon, we’ll have just about anything we need available for the iPhone.
If you have a favorite app that makes your business better, please let me know about it. You can e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll consider it for a future top business apps round-up like this one.
Many organizations use RSA SecurID for multi-factor authentication. If yours does, why carry around a separate hard token when you’re already carrying an iPhone everywhere you go? This simple and powerful app not only helps keep your data secure, it makes doing so easier. The application is available for free from the iTunes App Store. However, it requires the activation of a token seed; your IT department can get this through their standard RSA sales channels.
RSA SecurID Software Token; Free; rsa.com
Of all the apps that promise to easily capture documents, ScanR Business Center is the easiest to use. The app creates a PDF file from an image captured through the device’s camera. You can then e-mail or fax the PDF to associates for viewing or printing. If you need a quick and easy way to digitize paper documents while you’re on the road, give this one a shot.
scanR Business Center; $24.99; scanr.com
If you do a lot of driving for business purposes, and if you’re always struggling to keep track of your mileage for expense reimbursement or tax purposes, you should take a look at DayTracker. It’s a simple and easy-to-use app for recording mileage; it will even do it automatically using the GPS. If the app is interrupted for any reason, it uses Google maps to accurately capture mileage. The app also supports odometer start and stop readings. Mileage is synchronized with the DayTracker Web site, and reports can be generated as Excel files and e-mailed to anyone.
DayTracker; $1.99; thedaytracker.com
QuickBooks Online is an iPhone Web App that does a good job of giving you access to your financial information wherever you are. You can use the app to check your accounts receivable and payable; view lists of vendors, customers, and employees; view bank and credit card balances; and run balance sheet and profit and loss reports—all from your iPhone. If your business uses QuickBooks Online, you really need to check out this app!
QuickBooks Online; QuickBooksOnline.com
Organizations that use Microsoft Dynamics CRM should take a look at iDcrm. The app has an offline synchronization mechanism that lets you access your data on the iPhone when you don’t have a data connection. Whether you need to access contact, lead, or deal information, iDcrm is one of the best ways to leverage an existing investment in Dynamics CRM.
iDcrm; $199.99; numenes.com
The lack of Task support in Exchange ActiveSync on the iPhone is a big deal for many business professionals. The push e-mail and contact/calendar sync is great, but task management is a critical component of most professionals’ productivity. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for Apple to add task support at some point in the future. TaskTask uses your organization’s existing Exchange ActiveSync infrastructure to sync tasks with Outlook on your desktop. It lets you easily create new tasks, mark tasks as complete, reorganize or reprioritize tasks, as well as look at all your tasks with one simple glance. TaskTask is an indispensible addition to any Outlook user’s iPhone.
TaskTask; $4.99; tasktaskonline.com
An organization looking for a simple, yet powerful, Business Intelligence (BI) tool or already using the QlikView platform, should check out QlikView. This app provides a very flexible and easy-to-use window into your business’s key performance indicators. The application uses Coverflow to facilitate easy navigation between charts and graphs. It can even use the iPhone’s GPS capabilities to automatically deliver sales or service-related reports about a specific customer as the rep nears the customer’s facility. QlikView certainly appears to have a bright future in the mobile BI space.
QlikView; Free; qlikview.com
Basecamp from 37Signals is a popular Web-based collaboration and project management tool that helps facilitate communication with customers and partners. There are many Basecamp companion apps for the iPhone, but Outpost is the clear leader (and the most expensive). You can easily view all your projects at a glance, drill into specific messages, check to-dos or milestones, add comments, and keep the project’s conversations going from wherever you are.
Outpost; $12.99; outpostapp.com
Although Basecamp is probably 37Signals’ most popular tool, Backpack is another product from the company that provides a central location for organizational information, documents, discussions, schedules, and tasks. Of all the companion apps for Backpack, Satchel is the well-established leader. It’s a perfect way to easily reference all of the information on your Backpack pages, manage notes, and view attached files. This is one of those site/app combos that require some setup time to get everything organized just the way you want it. Once you get everything in place, it becomes one of your most used applications.
Satchel; $9.99; standalone.com
Top Floor is the perfect iPhone companion for Highrise, the Customer Relationship Management system from 37Signals. The application synchronizes your data for offline access when you don’t have a data connection and puts critical sales information at your fingertips. The app lets you map the location of a customer, add items to your to-do list, check the status of your sales pipeline, access project documents, and more. With Top Floor, you always have the sales data you need with just a few taps of your finger.
Top Floor; $9.99; taptapmobile.com
Have you ever wished that you could use your iPhone as a remote control for a PowerPoint presentation? That’s exactly what you can do with this app. The mbPointer app lets you connect your iPhone wirelessly to a Windows laptop or PC and control PowerPoint from the iPhone. Note that the Windows version of the program must also be installed on the laptop or PC.
mbPointer; $2.99; mbpowertools.net