The past 12 months have seen a big rise in smartphone and tablet use among small businesses, with research from PC World Business revealing 23% of SMEs are now using or trialling tablets at work. We asked Phil Birbeck, managing director of PC World Business, to pick his top 10 apps to help small businesses increase their productivity.
1. Salesforce Mobile
Platform: iOS, Blackberry, Windows Mobile
The Salesforce app, much like the desktop software, provides access to important business data such as graphs, databases and sales figures, allowing sales staff to increase efficiency without feeling under prepared for those important customer meetings. Salesforce has cemented itself as one of the most popular apps for businesses and this is a reflection on just how useful it can be for sales teams who are regularly on the move.
Platform: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian
One of the major players of the app world, but there’s no doubt that Voice over IP (VoIP) can save businesses money, particularly on those bill-sapping overseas calls. It’s worth noting that it can only be used over a Wi-Fi network, not 3G. However, it’s still one of the best ways to cut telephone costs on the move. Even if you’re new to the concept of VoIP, you’ll find Skype clear, simple and easy to use and following the recent partnership with Facebook you can be sure that Skype is only going to get bigger.
GoodReader allows tablet users to transfer files between their handheld device and their computer, via Wi-Fi, cloud network, FTP or email server. This means businesses can access files on all their devices. Crisp usability with a quick preview function and good compatibility with most file types makes this a highly recommended app for helping people access the documents they want, where they want.
The life of a business traveller can be brutal but little things can make it all the more bearable, such as up to the minute flight information from all the main UK airports. Independent of the airlines, iFlight searches all flights by destination, carrier or flight number plus the onscreen departure board will alert you to any delays.
5. Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite
Platform: iOS, Android, Symbian
Quickoffice Mobile Suite allows you to edit Microsoft Office documents from your Smartphone or Tablet. Documents can then be shared with colleagues and clients through your Wi-Fi network and the app also has integrated access to cloud networks like Huddle, MobileMe and Google Docs. The main benefit of this app though is certainly the ability to fully open up your smartphone or tablet to Microsoft Office documents.
6. Analytics App
One of the most important things for a small business with a strong online presence is keeping track of visitors to their website. Analytics App uses Google Analytics to help businesses see how many people are visiting, where they’re coming from, what they’re viewing, the length of their visit and even calculates a loyalty value for each visitor. In terms of output, it provides over 50 different ways to report the findings, which is a boon for small companies looking to get closer to their customers.
Platform: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre
Evernote comes in use for professionals who like to compile a ‘scrapbook’ of information. Data can be captured in audio, text, image, Twitter or webpage forms, then collated and synchronised later. Smart text-reading technology allows users to take photos and search text within the image. Data is also backed up to the users’ Evernote account so whatever happens to your device, you data won’t be lost.
8. Calc VAT – UK Vat Calculator
Growing firms need to have a clear idea of their prices, profit margins and tax proportions, but with the regular changes in VAT rates over the last few years, as well as overseas sales taxes for any international customers, things can get complicated. Calc VAT helps you work out where you stand and provides a breakdown of the net amount and gross amount plus the sales tax paid. This app will ensure quick calculations are always accurate.
9. Print n Share
Platform: iOS, Android
This app allows you to print from a mobile device. It also uses a 3G connection enabling you to print documents from outside the office, in addition to drag and drop document storage on your mobile device and email options from within the app.
iXpenselt lets small and medium-sized enterprises keep track of expenses by setting monthly budgets for different areas of the business, record expenditure, run reports and distribute them to others. The app also includes a currency converter and the ability to photograph and store receipts ensuring there are no nasty surprises at the end of the month.