When the Square app debuted, making it possible for any business to accept payments from any location through their mobile devices, the business world took notice and things haven’t been the same since.
Suddenly, mobile app developers were focused on creating new ways for businesses to close deals and accept payments when they’re on the go. Today, there are multiple mobile tools that enable businesses to process transactions and payments, including Square, Intuit GoPayment, and Swipe Credit Card Terminal.
Businesses are also actively looking for ways to launch their own branded apps offering the ability to make purchases within the apps themselves. For example, Magento Mobile brings your online store to the mobile channel making it easy for consumers to buy from you through their mobile devices.
Mobile apps and tools have truly turned business into an “always on” proposition. Marketers have 24×7 access to consumers through mobile tools like Twitter and Facebook, and location-based marketing is easier than ever with mobile tools like Foursquare and Gowalla.
Increased Productivity and Efficiency
Many tasks that used to take businesses days or weeks to complete can now be done in seconds thanks to mobile tools. Remember when you had to be physically in your office and at your computer to access all of your files? With mobile apps like Dropbox and Box, those days are history. Employees can also hold virtual meetings and video conference calls through their mobile devices, which means no delays in trying to get all meeting participants together in the same room in order to make decisions.
Similarly, making changes to your travel itinerary used to take multiple phone calls and extended periods of time on hold. Today, you can open TripIt or Kayak on your mobile device and make the necessary changes within a few minutes.
For businesses that rely on employees in the field or have to track asset management and delivery, the Telenav mobile tools allow you to identify exactly where your people, trucks, and assets are at any time. This way, you can schedule deliveries more efficiently. Alternately, InTransit Asset Tracker allows you to control inventory and ensure availability, so you can avoid potential shortages and problems.
For businesses that use a courier service to move documents or other items from one location to another, Digital Waybill offers real-time mobile apps for both clients and end users.
Streamlined Processes for Specific Businesses
There are also many mobile tools and apps that can help specific types of businesses. For example, a hairstylist can use MyChair to schedule and manage appointments, while a realtor could use Property Evaluator to calculate home values on the fly. You might see a doctor managing patients through a DrChrono mobile database or a pilot using ForeFlight to organize navigation and perform preflight checklists.
A few years ago, attorneys were resistant to technology. Today, it’s extremely common for them to show up to trials and meetings with their iPads in hand loaded with apps to help them do their jobs better.
For example, apps like TrialPad have grown in popularity as a tool to prepare trial presentations and manage legal documents. RLTC: Evidence allows lawyers to manage evidence for trials, and Deponent helps lawyers prepare for depositions. For jury selection, JuryTracker, iJury, and JuryStar offer ways for lawyers to organize the entire process.
Even contractors are finding value in mobile tools. For example, the Contractor’s App Box streamlines contractor invoices and reports. ProntoForms provides an automated, mobile time sheet system that can be used at any job site rather than installing manual time clocks at each site.
Whether you see a restaurant hostess using a mobile app like ConnectSmart Hostess Mobile to manage seating and wait times or you work with a service provider who uses a tool like Freshbooks and the MiniBooks app to provide you with an invoice before he leaves your house or office, you’re likely to come into contact with companies leveraging mobile tools to conduct business. The world has changed and mobile business has become the norm.
Susan Gunelius: Susan Gunelius is a 20-year marketing veteran and President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She has authored nine books about social media, content marketing, branding, copywriting, and blogging, and she is a marketing columnist for Forbes.com and Entrepreneur.com. Susan speaks about marketing, branding, and social media at events around the world and is often interviewed about marketing topics by television, online, print, and radio media organizations.