Business: There’s an App for That
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Make the Most of Mobility
Senior Director, Communications
U. S. Chamber of Commerce
Send questions to bpeck@USChamber.com.
In December 2008, the Pew Internet & American Life Project predicted that by 2020 the majority of people worldwide will connect to the Internet via mobile devices. We are already well on our way. Last year, according to Pew Internet, 55% of American adults connected wirelessly either via laptop or handheld device. Heavy infrastructure requirements for wired connectivity suggest that developing countries will follow the mobile trend.
Below are some mobile applications that can save you time and/or money. This is not an endorsement of specific products—just ideas to get you going.
Payments. For years, there have been products for sellers to process payments over the phone, but now you can accept payments on your phone. With apps like Credit Card Terminal by Inner Fence or uCharge, you can get instant credit authorization and provide instant receipts.
Shipping. FedEx and most major shippers now offer mobile apps for tracking packages. So when you get a call from a customer wondering where his or her shipment is, you can answer immediately. Or if you are waiting for a part, you can skip out to run errands knowing when delivery is scheduled.
Immediate Deductions. With apps like iSpend, you can track and categorize expenses as they occur, then later pull them into Excel or other programs. Quickbooks also offers a mobile interface.
Banking, Web Site Management, and Sales. Most banks offer on-the-go banking. Therefore, no matter where you are, you can access your account balances. With ServerUp from Archanet Technologies, you also always know the status of your network and Web site. Mobile offerings from companies like Salesforce.com let you manage your sales and customer service functions on the go.
Time Management. With Freshbooks or Attendance Countdown, you can keep track of time spent on projects and even generate invoices on the fly.
Travel. You can track employees on service calls using Google Maps through an application called Latitude. Need to get to a client’s location in short order? Use Google maps with the traffic feature or Traffic1.Mobi for real-time traffic conditions. Want to spend less time sitting in an airport terminal? Crossgates AC offers airport flight delays, and most airlines have their own apps to track flights as well.
There is a good chance that almost any software you use for your business has a mobile offering.
I have yet to mention the reigning champion of killer applications for handhelds—messaging on the go. Being able to text or process e-mails anywhere means that you are never really out of the office. Which reminds me, don’t forget the most important function of your smartphone—the off button.