Mobility

Apps for the SMB owner's iPhone

With the right apps, SMB owners can have access to many business systems from their iPhones.

iPhone apps for SMBs

Small to Medium Business (SMB) owners can exercise a great deal of control over their business using just their iPhones. Whether it's access to cloud apps or customer information, there's an iPhone app for that.

Here's a roundup of valuable iPhone apps for the SMB owner.

Office 365 apps

If your SMB uses Microsoft Office 365, and you want to move past the underwhelming launch of Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers, and the new native Outlook Web App client only meets part of your mobile requirements, I recommend harmon.ie: Office 365 and SharePoint Mobile Client (Figure A) or Colligo Briefcase Pro for accessing files you might be storing on SharePoint online. These app developers are making Office 365 an integral part of their strategy. 

Figure A

Figure A

Access SharePoint from your iPhone using harmon.ie.

There's also a free Lync 2013 for iPhone and SkyDrive apps available for the iPhone. These apps make excellent use of the iPhone's small screen real estate.

Calendar apps

The iOS calendar app has its limitations, especially for the highly mobile business owner, who would be better served by one of the growing list of iOS calendars appearing in the App Store.

Sunrise Calendar, a free and graphically pleasing iPhone calendar app, lets you pull in information from Google Calendar, Facebook, LinkedIn, and FourSquare to add more details to your meeting information. It gives you granular controls over calendar notifications. These calendar notifications have a nice yet distinctive tone on my iPhone 5. Figure B shows the Day view in Sunrise.

Figure B

Figure B

Sunrise Calendar Day view.

Another free calendar app, Tempo Smart Calendar, also steps ups the calendar game on the iPhone. It requires you to sign up for a free account, and when you login to the app for the first time, it cycles through the calendars and contacts on your iPhone to "enhance" them. Optionally, you can link to your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to bring in more details about the other attendees at your meetings and events. Figure C shows an example of Tempo's Agenda view.

Figure C

Figure C

Agenda view in Tempo Smart Calendar.

Task management

Some social task management platforms are free and ideal for helping SMBs stay on task. Each of the following platforms has a very robust iPhone app that gives users access to their tasks and projects.

The Asana Mobile app (previously covered here) has recently integrated with the Dropbox Chooser. Here are some other nifty features that have made into the app:

  • Attach images to tasks
  • Mobile inbox with push notifications
  • Changes made to tasks from the mobile app sync in real time

I recently reviewed Producteev (now owned by Jive) and spent some time using the Producteev iPhone app. It includes a set of views, filters, and task input features inside one well-designed iOS interface. Figure D shows a task list in the Producteev app:

Figure D

Figure D

Task management in the Producteev mobile app.

Do.com from Salesforce was the first to get out of the gate and their Do - Social productivity app, and they set the design bar high. Unfortunately, the iOS app still doesn't support the Do Deals feature (lightweight CRM), which keeps me making this app my top choice for SMB owners.

All of these apps are push alert capable, which is another benefit for forgetful, on-the-go types.

CRM

Customer Relationship Management moving to the cloud has created a range of CRM platforms that are affordable to SMBs using a subscription-based model. The major cloud CRM solutions also come with mobile apps.

Sage CRM Sales Lite (reviewed here) is a mobile CRM app that's definitely well suited for SMBs, because it's lightweight and easy to use. Putting a CRM on your iPhone means that you'll never have to be without the latest customer information and insights into your sales pipeline.

Another CRM option for SMBs is Zoho CRM. As a company, Zoho has spent a lot of time working on their mobile apps, and it shows in the Zoho CRM iOS app (Figure E). Zoho  has been taking an iterative approach to this app. The latest release adds the following features:

  • View and reply to email from your leads and contacts
  • View accounts near your current location on a map
  • Access to file attachments related to records

Figure E

Figure E

Zoho CRM for iOS.

With any cloud and mobile CRM solution, pay attention to the pricing to ensure that you aren't going to incur additional costs for mobile access to your CRM data.

Email

The default iOS email app was the only game in town for years on the iPhone. I recently wrote about the excellent Mailbox app, but SMB owners may also want to consider Boxer (Figure F), which is another free alternative email app. Boxer includes the following features:

  • Support for Outlook, Gmail, Exchange, Hotmail, iCloud, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, AOL, and IMAP email
  • Dropbox integration
  • Passcode/PIN security for email client
  • Quick reply for most common responses

Figure F

Figure F

Boxer mail app inbox.

Conclusion

This roundup shows that iPhone apps are now available for SMB owners, and their employees for that matter, to stay in touch from anywhere and access corporate information from their iPhones. What iPhone apps do you recommend for SMBs? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

About

Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

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