Supercharge your business’ productivity with these apps
In Digital, Efficiency, Time - 2 years ago - 6 min
Supercharge your business’ productivity with these apps
How are people using apps to supercharge their business?
If you are still doing things exactly the same way as you were six years ago, the chances are that you’re not being as efficient as you could be. Since 2010 – the year the iPad was launched, Wikileaks released its first batch of documents and the Conservative/LibDem coalition was formed – a lot has changed and there has been a huge growth in the number of apps available. According to tech analysts Statistica, as of July 2015 there were over 1.6m apps available for Android users and 1.5m for iOS. Furthermore, business apps are the second most popular category, behind only games.
But given that 25 percent of apps are only used once in the first six months post-downloaded (as of 2015), how do you find the right app for you and your company? Here, we speak to business owners directly to hear their recommendations on the best tech to boost productivity.
Instant messaging and collaboration system Slack says it has over two million active users and it’s not hard to find business leaders to give it a thumbs up. Among them is Tai Alegbe, founder of online wine discovery company Baacco, who “uses Slack for everything.”
Tai says Slack puts communication and collaboration into one place, potentially bringing an end to internal email. Users can create channels for projects and discussions and Slack integrates well with programmes such as Github, PayPal, Braintree, Google Drive, Azure, enabling cross-disciplinary projects. “Prior to using Slack, we communicated and collaborated through Skype, email, phone and meetings – this approach was very frustrating due to the fragmented nature of using multiple apps,” Tai says.
Collaboration tool Trello enables the creation of work boards with to-do lists, with handy tools to help businesses working on projects. Natalie Weaving, director at digital marketing agency The Typeface Group, says having tried other project management tools, this one is her choice. “It allows us to add processes and checklists to ensure that elements get done, and assign clients to people in the team that will be required to work on the project,” she says.
Natalie is also impressed with Trello’s connectivity, enabling her to attach proposals stored in Dropbox but also restricting access where necessary. “Our bookkeeper and accountant use it to request information and update us. We also have boards for freelancers, so we can safely share information without having to give them access to all our Dropbox files.”
“In the future, we are going to start inviting clients to their specific boards so that they have a clear understanding of where we are at any given time. This is a process we are ironing out before we roll it out.”
Email integrator CloudMagic has over four million users and 100,000 mostly positive reviews. Very simply, it enables users to integrate multiple email addresses from different providers into one place. Business leaders such as Nicholas Oliver, founder of People.io, are among its fans.
“Email is the unavoidable channel of communication, but I like to think CloudMagic has made my experience with email somewhat less painful,” says Nicholas. “I have six different email accounts, all hooked into the app, which means I can jump between different colour coded inboxes, all maintained independently, with a user interface that I certainly find to be more intuitive than most native or service specific email apps.”
Business owners often have ideas on the go but can all too easily forget them. Noteshelf is one way to overcome this problem, enabling users to make freehand notes, diagrams, pictures and scribbles and record, save and send them as necessary.
Jason Downes, managing director at conference calls provider Powwownow, is a fan. “It makes life easier, both during meetings and brainstorms and after them, as pages can be downloaded into JPEGs for distribution in emails or pasting into presentations,” he says. “It allows employees and employers to work that bit more flexibly and operate on the go, as opposed to being tied down with a notepad at a desk or in a meeting room. This is the direction that UK business culture is moving towards.”
Intercom enables businesses to chat online with their customers as they peruse their website, with the hope they can be turned into customers. It also allows you to deal with customer issues, complaints and inquiries, and synchronises with email and social media platforms.
For Ian Naylor, CEO and founder of DIY app building company AppInstitute, Intercom has been “an awesome tool which changes the way we do business”.
“It’s not just a chat app. It’s analytics, CRM and you really build up a profile of the customer. There’s the ability to automatically generate communications to those customers as well. So once they’ve done something positive we can offer congratulations in a gamified way, whereas if they are struggling we can offer support,” Ian says.
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Task management platform Asana is another favourite of businesses large and small. It enables the creation of to do lists, allows you to assign them to users and track progress. Nigel Lamb, managing director of brand marketing company Xposure, says he is impressed by the way it interacts with other apps he and his team use. “My favourite productivity app is Asana. The real secret to productivity apps, in my opinion, is choosing the ones that work together, share information and talk to each other. There are lots of great apps out there, but productivity is such a broad subject and we all require different things from them.”
Want to find more ways to boost your productivity? Find out how working slowly can help.