All New Business Apps: 4 Ways Tablets can Transform Your Business

Are you stuck at your desk, trying to build a company using your PC to track and manage everything yourself? Its time to streamline — and transform — your business by using the next generation of tablets and apps.  It’s no longer optional — your competitors are going to leap ahead by empowering their entire team to capture, communicate and use data more effectively and efficiently.

Now that tablets have broken the $200 barrier, and apps are being built for serious business purposes, tablets are not just toys anymore.

I’m not talking about typical productivity apps for small businesses. Sales people adopted phones and tablets to hold contact databases, track appointments and organize restaurant receipts.  That’s fine, but it inspires a lot of yawns in the executive boardroom.

What is NOT inspiring yawns are the new breed of apps developed in the last 18 months that can radically re-organize and re-energize a business.  If you and your executive team are chained to a desktop PC, its time to look at these new ways to unlock the real potential of your business.

Start with Why
When data – especially finance data – is locked behind an office door or a PC password, everyone ends up struggling to get their job done. The guy with the password feels important and powerful, but he quickly becomes the bottleneck that regulates customer service, operational efficiency, and growth.

Tablets can set you free.  Going mobile can put you back in touch with other employees, departments and functions.

But don’t stop there. Free your company data too.

Finance and operational data that is  insulated from the rest of the company impacts every employee.  When getting your job done depends on information (and whose doesn’t?), a lack of access to financial records, databases, spreadsheets and all manner of financial data will bring the company to its knees.

Break the Chains
So set your staff — and your data — free.   Rethink where the finance and operations data lives and how you interact with it.

  • Imagine a company where every employee can see their direct financial impact on the company and suggest improvements based on facts and data
  • Imagine a sales team being able to enter their sales orders directly into QuickBooks…from the customer’s office
  • Imagine warehouse staff entering shipment info to help customers track packages and doing an inventory audit without ever writing something down.

All possible now.  These capabilities and opportunities have emerged so fast, it’s can seem daunting just to evaluate all the tools available.

The Big Picture
The difference between old “productivity apps” and today’s sophisticated finance and operations apps is their ability to connect multiple people, disparate data and global resources in a way that integrates (and may radically change!) your operations.

Who owns the data and who needs the data? Below are 4 mobile connections you can make that will transform your operations, and some of the apps available to help you get there. Give each employee a tablet (my Google tablet was just $199), and you can now put the power of data safely into the hands of every person in your company.

1. Connect Accounting to the Accounts
Intuit makes a fantastic QuickBooks mobile app that allows sales people to enter customer data, sales, and even invoices from anywhere at any time.  Take the app to your customer location and make the sale.  Want to collect payment? The Intuit (QuickBooks) Go Payment device can allow you to scan a credit card without leaving the conference room (or the factory floor).   Your sales person just took an order, created a bill, and got paid.  No accountants required.

2. Connect your Treasury to the Treasury
More sophisticated companies need to manage multiple accounts, currencies and investments simultaneously.  Why require an expensive executive to trek to the bank or even back to his desk.  Now he can transfer money with apps from nearly any bank or credit union.  I’ve used apps from Bank of America, Wells Fargo and PNC (among others): I can tell you — they rock.

Wanna get really crazy?  Your treasury manager can keep track of your positions in commodities like crude oil and copper using an app called  Commodity Prices… or track foreign currency hedges with XE Currency … even buy and sell  gold bullion using an app from Bullionvault.  Even a CFO of a billion-dollar company can get his work done on a tablet these days.

3. Connect Payroll to Line Managers
Forget about timeclocks and punchcards.  Put the power of time keeping and payroll right into the hands of your first line managers.  Help them track and report staff hours, absences and payments using TimeStation — the web 2.0 version of a 1950’s time clock.  And if you have a payroll provider like ADP or Paychex, you can now report and track actual payroll payments from the palm of your hand.

4. Connect Projects to Everyone
One of my favorite project management tools, BaseCamp, has gone mobile with a web-based version. What makes more sense than putting every project directly into the hands of every team member who is working on it?

Common Threads
Are you sensing a common thread here?  Apps and tablets allow you to push the responsibility for capturing data down to the lowest levels of your workforce and make the data available everywhere its needed.   And that’s exactly the right approach to build efficiency and power into your data systems.

People who create the data should be empowered to record the data.  People who need the data should be empowered to see the data.

We’ve long dreamed of paperless offices where data flows like water and decisions are made on facts…. Finally, at $199 for a tablet, the dream is within reach.  I challenge you to implement even one of these systems… and to tell me how it goes!

Dedicated to your (Tablet-Powered) success,  David

PS: Need help identifying and implementing these kinds of technology solutions?  Call us!  We have completely virtualized companies of every size and shape!

Originally Published

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