A few years ago, I invested in an Apple iPad, an iPad case and a Bluetooth Keyboard to supplement my laptop. I've researched and tested over 200 iPad Apps so far. The following are my favorite Apps that help me get my job done in 18 key areas of our Business.
Note: Please don't get overwhelmed by all the application (app) options. Start with a few apps that you need every day and then add the others over time. You're in for a real treat. Using an iPad is like no other PC, Mac or Laptop you have ever used. The iPad is much easier to use and a lot more fun.
1. Office Apps - You have several Top App options if you use Microsoft Office (MS Office) in your business. You can create and edit MS Office Documents on the iPad. Microsoft Office 365 is available using the iPad version of their Office Apps: Microsoft Word for iPad, Microsoft Excel for iPad, Microsoft Powerpoint for iPad or OneNote for iPad.
iWork is the Apple version of Microsoft Office. The iPad Apps include Numbers, Pages & Keynote Presentations. Once you learn how the Apps work, the user interface is much faster and more fun to use on the iPad. As of November 2013, all Apple Office Products are Free when you purchase a new iPhone or iPad mobile device.... and the Apple Apps have been redesigned to seamlessly integrate with Apple Laptop and Desktops.
2. Reporting - Financials, Expense, Forecasts - You can use Apple "Numbers" App (which is similar to Microsoft Excel) for analysis and reporting or one of the Apps mentioned in the last section. In addition, all the office apps mentioned above can be used for financial analysis and reporting. Another excellent iPad App for Reporting is the Roambi Analytics Visualizer App.
Expense Reporting and getting paid for expenses are always a challenge in every business. If you need to improve your expense reporting and get paid faster, check out Expensify. It is a Cloud-based App with wireless iPhone, iPad and Android Apps that sync with the main system. The first two users are free.
3. eMail and Calendar - The Apple iPad comes with really nice and easy-to-use eMail, Calendar and Contact (Phone Book) Apps. They all can Sync with your existing Company email Apps or you can switch over to Apple eMail and Calendar Apps that sync with iCloud. Click for more info on all of the Free built-in iPad Apps.
4. Note-Taking - We attend and run many meetings and create lots of To-Do lists. Don't you?
We use the EverNote App to take Notes, Store, Sync, Organize and Share with others. You can type notes, record audio, snap a meeting photo, slide-deck photo, or copy a website article into Evernote. Evernote instantly syncs all your notes to your Smartphone, Tablet, PC or Mac without you doing anything. This is really a great time savings app. Cost: Free for Basic Service, $45/yr/user for unlimited storage and a Business version for $10 per user per month. Sign up for the free version or for the 30-day free trial of the premium version We also like Microsoft OneNote since it's been upgraded.
5. Presentations - We make lots of presentations. You can use the Apple Keynote App or the Google Presentation App to create, edit and present. We use Apple's KeyNote App to create and deliver stunning presentations.
6. Web-Based Seminars, Demos, Training and Meetings - We use the "GoToMeeting" App, "Webex" App, Google HangOuts and Microsoft "Skype" App to attend or run web-based seminars, staff meetings, sales meetings and demos. The services costs vary based on your company plan. The Apple "FaceTime" App is great for one-on-one video calls with anyone using the latest Apple iPhones, iPads and Macs.
7. Training - For the last five years we have been using lynda.com (Click for a 7-day free trial) for self-paced on-line video training. They have an iPad (& iPhone) app and Android Apps so you can watch high-quality training anytime and anywhere. Cost: Starts at $250/yr/user.
We also use the Apple Store App to schedule Free Workshops and Mac One-on-One Coaching with Apple Specialists (Cost: $99/yr/user for new Mac owners only). Use Apple's Free iTunes University to learn extra college and masters classes in key subjects. You can publish your Company Manuals as PDF files and download them to the Free iBooks App in an easy-to-read PDF format.
The Khan Academy App gives you Free College Level Video Training Classes. You can also use iTunes to listen to audio and watch video Podcasts - a great low-cost addition to any training or personal development program.
8. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) - Most sales people leave their laptops at home, in their cars or hotel rooms before a sales call. Everyone is willing to carry an iPad (and a Smartphone) into a customer meeting. Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, Zoho CRM and almost all other CRM vendors have iPad Apps that work with their software and service. Many CRM Systems work with just the iPad Safari Browser and do NOT need a special App.
9. Scan Business Cards - We use two apps. The first is the Worldcard Mobile App to scan new business cards into our iPad and iPhone phonebooks. The card information is scanned into the correct database field (with some editing). You can then export the names to an .csv file which can be imported into any CRM System. We also use the Business Card Scanning feature of Evernote (premium and the business version). Once you snap a photo of a business card, the app first creates a copy of the card image in an Evernote Note. Then it enters the contact fields in the note and in your device phone book. If you give Evernote permission, it will also go into your Linkedin account and fill in the photo and other key info about the new contact. I like this a lot.
10. Phone Calls and Texting - Yes, you can use the iPad to make phone calls and text other smartphones. We use the following four Apps on the iPad for talking and texting:
- You can use Google Hangouts for unlimited Voice Calls and Texting in the USA.
- A Free Skype for iPad App is also a good option. You can call and text other Skype uses for Free, and you can also pay a low annual fee to call any phone number in the U.S. or internationally.
- Apple's Facetime App is excellent for making Free Video Calls and Audio Only Calls to other iPad, iPhone, Laptop and Desktop owners.
- iMessage Texting - In addition to the other Apps mentioned above, the Free iMessage App from Apple is just wonderful. It allows you to send text, photos, contact files and videos to any other Apple user around the world (who uses the latest Apple IOS operating system). You can send and receive group messages - that includes your overseas contacts. You can also send and receive regular text messages to non-Apple users. The iMessage uses your data service to send the info.
11. Research - We use EverNote (see our comments above) and Instapaper App to collect and organize market research and customer research. Both Apps automatically sync your information with all your other devices (that you have installed their Free Apps) including an: iPhone, Mac, PC or Laptop. These two apps are free, very powerful and can greatly improve your productivity.
12. Daily Reading of the News - FlipBoard App is the hottest iPad app for reading the news each day. I also read the news using the Zite App (which is now a CNN Company).
In addition, we listen to Free Audio and Video Podcasts using the Free Apple iTunes App. The Podcasts are an excellent inexpensive way to keep up with your industry, politics and the news.
13. Digital Signing of Contracts - Both Docusign and EchoSign App (purchased by Adobe in 2011) are used on the iPad to legally sign contracts, proposals and orders in the USA. Excellent App to reduce the time time it takes to close a sale and reduce paperwork.
14. Travel & Dining Info - When I leave the home or office, the iPad greatly helps me plan my day or week. I use Yelp to check out restaurants or coffee meeting locations. We use the OpenTable App to book our restaurant reservations. Every day, I check Google Maps or Apple Maps (built-in) for traffic conditions and to get directions to the meeting location. I use the Weather Channel App to check for driving or flying conditions around the world. The Apple Facetime App (built-in) or Skype App are great to see our family when traveling overnight or just working late.
15. Entertainment - Netflix is one of the best apps for watching TV and movies. Flixster is a good movie App to check out movie times, find the nearest theater and the latest reviews. I use the iTunes App, Spotify and Pandora for music listening and movie rentals. I also use the Apple iBooks App (built-in) and the Amazon's Kindle App to read ebooks. Game Apps on the iPad are now amazing - great to keep you busy in a hotel room at night during a business trip.
16. File Sharing - We use three Top Cloud Services for sharing and syncing files to the iPad: Dropbox, iCloud and Box.com. Apple's iCloud works with all Apple products and other top iPad Apps. DropBox is one of the top apps to use in a Small Business for sharing and syncing files between your iPad, iPhone, Android, PC and Mac products. The first 2-gigabytes of storage are Free. It also integrates with many of the top iPad Apps. It is the number one way to get files on and off the iPad today. Box.com App is a little more complex to use. However, it has more security options and is used by most larger companies. There is a Free version with limited cloud storage. The business versions run $15 per user per month with a minimum of 3 users.
17. eMail Marketing - There are dozens of Marketing Automation Systems that can send email out for your company. However, if you have approval and need to just send out a large number of emails, there are a few apps that work well with iPads. The Mailchimp App is a top web-based marketing app that allow you to run and manage your marketing campaigns from your iPad (or iPhone).
18. Social Networking - We use the iPad to run our Social Networking Programs. It helps reduce the time it takes to manage your social networking programs. The following Social Networking Apps all work on the iPad: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Salesforce.com Chatter is another social networking App for business. We use Hootsuite to manage our Social Marketing. They have a free version that you can test with three social services.
Bonus Tips Added
19. Voice Commands - Apple Siri and Google Now are incredible productivity apps that are Free on the iPad Tablets. I use Siri all the time for sending and reading text messages and emails. I also use the voice function to speak instead of typing text into any field on an iPad. I use it for making To-Do lists, playing music, making calls and finding out the weather anywhere in the world. Once you start using these voice apps, you can see your productivity go up. Note: the voice technology is far from perfect... so expect the unexpected :)
I hope this info helps you get started on being more productive with your Apple iPad.
As you can see from the list of Business Apps, there are plenty of ways to be more productive.
Feel free to give us a call @ 650-866-5517 or just add a comment below to ask any questions... or if you just need some help.
Tell us about your favorite iPad App that makes you more productive in the office... and why?
Photo credit: Apple iPad
Note: This blog article has been updated from an earlier posting.