There’s An App for That!

Looking for a way to improve customer service, reduce time to market and gain a competitive advantage? There’s an app for that! A few years ago people had to carry a laptop around to be productive outside of the office. With the rise in popularity of SmartPhones and tablets this is no longer the case, however, many people are unsure how to use these devices for business. The most prominent uses for mobile devices are obvious - the ability to email on the go, play games, watch movies, access Facebook, etc., but the real question is, “what do these technologies mean for your business?” In my opinion, the answer is that you and your employees can work smarter and more efficiently.

“How,” you ask? Well, there is not one right answer and it will be different for every company. My goal in this article is to get you thinking about the different apps that are available and how they can benefit your company and employees.

Connect Socially – Social media applications are among the most popular apps out there. In business, they can help you and your employees stay connected with your customers and prospects 24/7. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are my top three favorites. Not only can they be used to post information to your networks, but also to communicate and connect with customers on the fly. Many people are more inclined to read a private Facebook message or PM from Twitter before an email, so next time you are on the go and need a quick response from someone, try and send a message via a social network instead of standard email. In addition to one-on-one interaction, you can improve your overall social media marketing strategy by staying tuned into what people are saying, replying promptly, engaging with others and providing live support via a SmartPhone or tablet.

Take Note Taking to a New Level – There are multiple apps available to improve note taking, whether you are sitting in a meeting with a client or walking the floor of a trade show. Two stand out apps I have used are Evernote and Dragon Dictation. The Evernote app allows you to record voice memos, take photographs, add typed notes and create a visual journal of an event. Dragon Dictation is a voice recognition app that converts what you say into text. Not only does this enable you to take easy notes by speaking into your phone, but you can also dictate emails, text messages, reminders and status updates to your social media sites.

Collaborate Universally – Over the last couple of years, numerous apps have been developed to help people collaborate on the go and access important documents and information from the “cloud”. What this means is that files, folders, information and databases are now being stored by third party companies, making everything accessible from different devices, virtually everywhere. The implication this has on business is huge as it can improve overall productivity. Think about it. You no longer have to worry that you left your proposal on your desktop or that you lost the USB that contained your presentation.

Two collaboration apps I have found useful are Dropbox and GoToMyPC. Dropbox allows you to share information and work on projects with colleagues and clients. After you install Dropbox on your computer, any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to your other computers and mobile devices, as well as the Dropbox website. With the app, you can log in and access everything you have saved, anywhere and at any time. GoToMyPC is exactly what it sounds like. With an iPad, you can download the app and connect it to your PC to you can control your computer while away from your work area.

Reduce Time to Market – The obvious benefits of having a mobile device with internet connection are often overlooked. Now, not only can you quickly come up with ideas and solutions, but you can also instantly share information with a client or vendor. Whether browser or app based research, with a mobile device, you are able to access information and respond to clients faster than ever. Multiple industry specific apps have been launched to help distributors research products and access vendor information on the go. Two popular Promotional Product applications are the ZOOMcatalog app (which enables you to browse, search and share hundreds of supplier catalogs virtually everywhere) and Sage Mobile (which can be used for product search by members). Next time you are in a sales meeting, bring your tablet with you to reduce your time to market and impress customers by accessing information and doing research on the spot.

There are thousands of apps out there designed to make your life easier. While I have only named a few in this article, be proactive, do your homework and find what works best for you and your company. SmartPhones and tablets have the potential to take your business to a new level by improving communication, increasing productivity and expanding your reach. Don’t get left behind, rather come up with a strategy on how to mobilize your company in 2012!