With nearly 40,000 apps and over a billion downloads in less than a year, Apple has changed the mobile software game. While there are certainly not as many business apps as there are games or entertainment apps, the business category is slowly but surely gaining steam with the introduction of apps from many major players in the enterprise software market.
In this review, I list 10 of the top apps currently available that help make business better. As users begin to take advantage of these tools, and businesses see the return-on-investment potential of empowering the mobile worker with line-of-business functionality, this segment will only continue to grow.
An app for every occasion?
While the number of titles available in the App Store has grown considerably, we’re not quite at the point where there’s an app for every task we might want to do. But there’s no doubt that the current collection of business apps will continue to expand rapidly. The competition among app developers will be great for business!
Whether you’re starting a company or just launching a new Web site, this handy little app can help you make sure the name you’ve chosen isn’t taken. Nomina lets you do domain and trademark searches on the fly. It’s the perfect way to make sure your flash of genius is unique.
History tells us that brilliant ideas are sometimes written on a napkin or the back of an envelope. Evernote lets you capture ideas as they happen, sync them to the cloud, and access them from anywhere. With the app installed, you can use your iPhone to create text notes or voice memos, or capture photos and sync them to the Web. You can also access notes and documents stored on your PC or Mac, whether you created them on your iPhone or not.
This powerful app uses your organization’s Citrix XenApp infrastructure to remotely access any Windows application or document from your iPhone. Whether you need to edit a document, approve expenses, or even join a webinar, you can do it all from your iPhone with Citrix Receiver. Of course, you’re limited by the iPhone’s screen size, which means you’ll have to do a lot of zooming and scrolling with some applications. And since the applications are located remotely, you’ll need a 3G connection or Wi-Fi for reasonable performance. Your organization will also need to have a XenApp solution in place for this app to work—a large investment for many organizations.
If you don’t have a XenApp infrastructure, you can’t use the Citrix Receiver described above. Fortunately, you can access many of the same capabilities with LogMeIn’s remote desktop access solution. You’ll need to install the LogMeIn software on your home or work PC and LogMeIn Ignition on your iPhone. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to connect to your PC from your iPhone, wherever you are, and access your documents or applications. You need a constant wireless connection for this solution (the faster the better), and you may have to do a lot of scrolling and zooming, but the cost is much less than the Citrix solution.
Oracle first released Business Indicators to allow iPhone users to access business performance data. They quickly followed up with Business Approvals for Managers, Mobile Sales Assistant, Business Approvals for Sales Managers, and Mobile Sales Forecast. This suite of Oracle mobile apps takes advantage of the iPhone’s potential to mobilize information workers by letting them access line-of-business data wherever they are.
Oracle Business Indicator
If your organization doesn’t have Oracle, but you still want a powerful business intelligence platform, check out RoamBi. The solution consists of a Web-based publisher service that walks you through the process of extracting data from Excel spreadsheets and publishing them in one of four basic templates (pie chart, card list, grid list, and catalog). The Visualizer app allows you to view your reports and charts. The interface is gorgeous and the potential is limited only by how it is used.
RoamBi - Visualizer
A trailblazer for hosted enterprise applications, Salesforce.com is also the hands-down leader when it comes to mobilizing business functionality. With Salesforce Mobile installed on your iPhone, you are able to access customer, lead, and opportunity information, as well as log calls, create and update activities, and schedule meetings. Salesforce has also created a very extensible framework that lets organizations create custom objects and workflows to extend their business processes to the iPhone with minimal investment.
This application (and others like it: see page 75) turns your iPhone into a mobile credit card terminal that allows you to accept payment from customers wherever you might be. As long as you have your iPhone with you, you won’t miss a sale.
Credit Card Terminal
WebEx has become synonymous with online meetings and Web conferencing, and this iPhone app truly takes the WebEx experience to the next level. At first glance, you might not realize how practical it is, but once you get into a situation where you need it, you’ll see how valuable it is to be able to log into your meeting from wherever you are—whether you’re walking through an airport or standing in line at Starbucks. The app lets you view the presentation as well as simultaneously participate in the voice conference call.
WebEx Meeting Center