10 Business Apps We'd Love to See

From the moment that Apple announced the iPhone SDK, which lets you create user-installable third-party applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, we've all been dreaming about the new applications we'd like to see running on the iPhone. Professionals will be looking for apps that make work easier and more productive. Companies will focus on apps that help make their workers more efficient and productive, and improve their return on investment. And all this represents a great business opportunity for developers on the ground floor of a completely new platform for business applications. What follows is a list of 10 business-oriented applications we'd love to see developed for the iPhone.

10. Sales force automation

We need an app that gives sales people access to their customers, prospects, and leads, as well as allowing them to record progress and even capture orders. This would boost productivity for organizations and individuals alike. Salesforce.com leads the way, but there is plenty of room in the market for other players and niche applications.

9. Simple data collection

How many people are out and about filling out paper forms while they have an iPhone in their pocket? Go green and save paper with an app that captured that information directly on the iPhone!

8. Time tracking

With everyone always on the go, who has time for paper time tracking? Even the standard spreadsheet-based time tracking is often quite clunky. An iPhone-based time tracking system makes this much easier.

7. Project management

Coordinating resources, ensuring deadlines, and managing risk—that's all just a day's work for a project manager, but how do they stay in touch when they're not in the office? Printed-out Gantt charts are so yesterday… I see it already: iGantt. Being able to create and view project plans and resource schedules while on the go would be a very valuable app to many project managers.

6. Team collaboration

With business teams of all types and sizes, the important thing is communication and collaboration. Some teams already work in a virtual environment, but even if they're not, their members are still mobile. By extending centralized collaboration tools to the iPhone, like instant-messaging, file sharing, multi-user document editing, and project calendars, mobile teams will be able to stay productive from wherever they are.

5. Easy workflow

A lot of workers spend their day approving and denying vacation requests, budget requests, project change orders, and more. It can be overwhelming to come back from a trip to an overflowing workflow inbox. Why not extend that workflow automation to the iPhone?

4. Route management

Many service professionals are constantly on the go, driving to a variety of client locations. They would welcome an application that takes advantage of the iPhone 3G's GPS to optimize the route and order of stops. This one's a no-brainer—especially with gas prices where they are.

3. Job dispatching

Sometimes picking up the phone and calling someone isn't the quickest way to get a job done. In a service industry, using GPS to know where everyone is and to instantly dispatch someone to a job is a very nice use for an iPhone. A service technician would be able to instantly know what their next job is and how to get there by simply referring to their iPhone.

2. Knowledge management

Whether it is for training or simply for reference, having access to a knowledge base is always valuable. If you're out and about a lot, an app that puts that knowledge on the iPhone could really do a lot.

1. Executive dashboard

Information is power, and giving that information to the right people at the right time is the key to using that power. An "executive dashboard" application that puts key performance indicators at the fingertips of decision-makers would be incredibly powerful. (Having it on an iPhone even makes it cool.)

All in all, the sky's the limit to what is possible with the new iPhone SDK. If you have any questions, or if you think I missed a killer business app for the iPhone, drop me a line at nathan.clevenger@smartphonemag.com.

Counting down the best ideas of the mobile enterprise
October 2008 (Premier Issue)
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