GigaOM had an article that was of interest to me titled, “Defining the new office suite: five essential apps for work,” because one of the areas I am involved with at work is deciding what apps to push out to sales & marketing, who are equipped with iPhones and iPads.
Working along the lines of the GigaOM post these are the five groupings of apps that I find critical: Remote Device Management, Content Management, Paperwork Management, Productivity, and Custom Sales & Marketing Apps.
Remote Device Management
It is critical to IT that we had a way to remotely wipe and locate devices when deploying to users in the field as well as those that travel a considerable amount. This is also a great way to push apps to those in the field.
Content Management Solutions
As remote device management was critical to IT, content management was critical to marketing. We are currently utilizing an application that allows us to organize our employees by groups and push content to them based on their group. In this way we can provide the latest versions of approved (we are FDA regulated) documents and video and we can define if the content can be shared. If it can be shared users can email through the app and the recipient can then download the content. Also of importance is the ability to report on usage.
Maybe not the best description for this category, but making it easy for those who travel to submit expenses, calculate tips, payroll, attendance tracking, HR related tasks, and FedEx/UPS.
This is definitely the space that most people think of when discussing daily app usage. Having email and company directory is essential. I personally like tools that synch with a server allowing me to move from mobile to laptop.
Document collaboration, I’ve started to use Box. Document review, I’ve really liked the Kindle Reader with Send to Kindle feature (right-click on any file on your laptop and it syncs to Reader) so I can send docs to my iPad for later reading (such as reports in PDF format).
Notetaking is critical. I don’t want to undock my laptop for a meeting, so I take my iPad and either type notes (finger pecking) or use a stylus to write, but I find my atrocious hand-writing is even worse on the iPad. I also want a tool that allows me to take notes in a meeting and then when I return to my desk I can type on my lap top to expand on them. I’ve been using Evernote and Mental Note. Mental Note’s latest release allows you to now export as a text file, something you couldn’t do previously. Evernote syncs without a problem and also allows you to clip notes from the Web and add them as a note.
Imaging/scanning is becoming more important whether it is a QR code or taking a picture of a whiteboard from a meeting. Qrafter and RedLaser are two apps I’ve been using in addition to my device’s camera. I also anticipate increased usage in this area in support of customer service (ie customer or field rep taking pictures and sending them to repair center to improve estimates and prepare for incoming repair work).
Voice, I’ve not utilized any of the voice based apps, but can see where a field rep may want to take some notes while driving and have them converted to tasks or memo’s, so this stays on my list as an area to not forget about.
Tasks, there are a ton of apps out there to help manage your tasks. Wunderlist and its companion Wunderkit have been my favorite so far.
Custom Sales & Marketing Apps
These are the real differentiator. What custom apps can you make that will allow your sales force to wow customers and support making the sale? While content management speaks to the “old” way of supporting sales, we are really just taking our paper and video and putting it on an iPad to view like it was still on paper. Building a customized app allows you to throw out the paper and build something that leverages all the benefits of the technology. You want it to have a wow factor, but you also want the customer to get drawn in by engaging and interacting with them.
Ideally, you’ll also be capturing or connecting sessions to specific users and customizing marketing efforts based on the latest interactions.