We’ve heard most people agree that iPads are awesome personal-productivity tools. We’ve also heard that it isn’t always so easy to use them to bring your business together as a more cohesive and profitable whole. For example, I love checking my email in the park. What else can I do besides checking email, to help my business run while sitting at the park or anyplace else? How can you leverage the resource of the iPad to help your business run, wherever you are? Let’s take a look at a few ways our clients are making productive use of iPads and how they have become highly valuable tools for their business.
- Leverage software. Group Logic’s mobilEcho is a great, secure tool to leverage software. Without secure access to your files what can you really accomplish? For me, the answer has always been, ‘not much’. mobilEcho empowers mobile users with anytime, anywhere, access to their important files, delivering the full promise of mobile productivity and collaboration.
- Use the apps associated with your cloud-based business software. The list here is nearly endless and is really determined by your specific business and the software you already use. Many companies use applications like salesforce.com, Zoho, SugarCRM or Microsoft Dynamics as sales tools. All of them have iOS apps. If you’re using QuickBooks or FreshBooks they also have iOS apps. Check the statements. The options are nearly endless but I’m always surprised how few businesspeople leverage the mobile versions of software they already pay for.
- Eliminate paper. We have helped several clients eliminate paper that most often used to be attached to large clipboards and usually required the staff to decipher handwritten notes before it was ever entered into a digital system. We all know the bottleneck and errors that this routine can cause. It can be completely avoided by using apps like FormEntry or Formstack , if you need simple forms. In more complex situations, like site surveys or inspections. you may need to leverage custom application development to achieve your objectives.
- Automate data entry. Other clients have taken iPads into the field along with barcode scanners and have allowed their field technicians to scan barcodes and enter that same data in minutes, instead of hours/days/weeks.
- Give killer presentations to clients. Of course Apple offers it’s Keynote app but there’s also Prezi, which provides many templates and great zoom features, to create compelling presentations. Sometimes those solutions won’t deliver the kind of custom presentation you’d like for you or your clients. If that’s the case, I have seen great examples of custom developed applications, that empower sales reps to do things like flip through products with buyers, mark items they’re interested, etc. At the end of a sales meeting, the sales rep has a tailored quote with beautiful graphics emailed to that buyer. This minimizes sales cycle, eliminates data entry by the sales reps and gets them in front of more customers faster.
- Dictate while driving. This entire blog post was drafted using the Dragon dictation application. There are other apps that provide similar functionality. The point is, I’m using my commute to create content. You can too.
A few questions to get you going:
- Is your business using iPads for business or as personal-productivity tools, or both?
- What application development tools do you currently have in your arsenal?
- Does your team have a planned and executed cohesive strategy for leveraging iPads for your business?
Jason Thomas manages Business Development at Skeleton Key and Brightsource IT. About Skeleton Key Skeleton Key helps turn complex, complicated, and outdated systems into true information platforms. Our team of consultants and developers do this by developing custom-fit software tools and reporting dashboards that help businesses find, use, and understand their data, freeing them to focus on and grow their core business. In addition to custom databases and applications, we also provide training and coaching for getting the most out of your existing systems and understanding your unruly data. Skeleton Key is an open-book management company and active player of the Great Game of Business.