by Curt Finch

Don’t Be Afraid of Using Consumer Apps for Your Business

Apr 26, 20124 mins
BPM SystemsConsumer ElectronicsMicrosoft Office

Corporate productivity applications are critical to businesses. Many — particularly web-based programs that can be accessed from anywhere — allow users to increase productivity both at home and in the office. Large companies with a dedicated IT staff depend on enterprise-level software that adds sophisticated tools and functionality. This level of complexity is often necessary as businesses expand and take on increasingly diverse projects. But not all companies are mammoth and have a need for complex and expensive enterprise apps. For small businesses, consumer apps can provide big benefits, often for a low price or even free.

Take, for instance, the new web application ifttt. This fascinating program allows you to create “tasks” that operate between most popular networks. It lets users upload tasks as “recipes” so that other users can download and use them. What’s interesting is that the tasks take the form of a logical argument structured as “if this, then this.” So, for example, you can structure a task to automatically send an email when you post on Twitter by inputting, “if I post on Twitter, then send an email to my Gmail address.” This is obviously a simple task, but the power of the application is strong. You can automate a majority of online activities so that much of your behind the scenes activities are taken care of. This can alleviate the need for an assistant and free your time to spend on more important activities.

An extremely useful tool, especially for business owners who need to multitask (read: all of them) is AirDisplay. Now, be forewarned that you need an iPad to use the application, but if you already have one then you are good to go. AirDisplay lets you use your iPad as a second monitor. Anytime you need to keep an eye on more than one web application, easily view information online while writing a report, or keep a webinar open while doing other things, this app is invaluable. Yes, it is possible to achieve the same results with an actual second monitor, but the beauty of AirDisplay lies in its portability and ease of use. After a quick initial setup, it takes just seconds to connect the iPad to a computer. For small businesses that require portability, this app lets you use a dual screen setup in just about any environment.

Slice provides a simple way to track anything you have ordered online in one easy interface. Having all of your tracking information in one place can be a godsend, particularly with everything else you have going on. Whether it is office supplies, computer hardware, or any of the other purchases necessary to make a business run, Slice can help make sure you know where it is and when it is going to arrive. Particularly when dealing with time-sensitive projects, this information can prove vital, especially if a shipping delay serves as a bottleneck. With this app, you know these issues early and can plan accordingly. Slice is currently available to Android users.

Obviously, these represent a small sampling of the applications that can give any business owner a leg up. Yet, they serve to illustrate a point: individuals can increase productivity while decreasing costs using applications like these. Rather than shy away from consumer apps, businesses should see how they can leverage them to provide benefit in the workplace. For small businesses, every penny counts, and choices like these may represent the difference between massive cost-sinks and ingenious savings that can improve your bottom line. Just something to consider while you peruse the app store on your break.

Tell me which apps you love!