Most IT consultants I meet use iPhones. That should come as no surprise, considering Apple sold 8.7 million of the devices last quarter alone. Since I've switched from a competing model (I previously used Treo and BlackBerry smartphones), my productivity has increased. Much of the thanks goes to six iPhone applications.
The iPhone's integrated support for Exchange 2003 and 2007 push technology makes it easy to configure iPhones to synchronize with the office's e-mail platform. Better yet, with the Mail app, no additional and expensive third-party server platform is required to connect to the already ubiquitous Exchange infrastructure.
Calendar's another no-brainer. Included on the iPhone and mated to my company's Microsoft Exchange 2007 Server, the application allows me to seamlessly synchronize my calendar, whether I'm entering changes from my iPhone, my laptop, or desktop workstation, one of my business partners is adding or moving service calls from my schedule remotely; or, one of my coworkers is making Exchange calendar adjustments necessitated by a current job running long or some other issue.
You can deploy Dropbox to synchronize files between a corporate file server, desktop workstations, field service laptops, and iPhones. Dropbox enables you to synchronize files of any size or type among all those disparate platforms. Consultancies can securely synchronize (password-protected access is required to access the SSL-encrypted communications) client information, commonly used forms, troubleshooting checklists, invoice templates, and more using Dropbox.
Accounts for up to 2 GB of storage space are free, while accounts up to 50 GB are just $9.99 a month. A 100 GB account runs $19.99 a month.
Toodledo is easily my favorite iPhone application. The software provides a simple and easy to use method for accessing, editing, creating, and updating Outlook Tasks using an iPhone. I live and die by Outlook Tasks, and Toodledo is the first iPhone application I've found that seamlessly and accurately synchronizes Tasks.
All I had to do was download and install the Toodledo application on my iPhone and my laptop. After configuring a free account, I was able to associate my iPhone installation with the account on my laptop. Now my Tasks are available from my iPhone, and changes I make synchronize wirelessly with no issues after several months of use.
The basic version is free; users requiring encryption, subtasks, and other optional features can upgrade to a Pro account for $14.95 a year.
Another application not to be underestimated is AroundMe. I never know when I'm going to find myself one battery backup, a couple Ethernet cables, or an external hard drive short on a project. Using the free AroundMe app, it's easy to find the closest office supply stores, banks/ATMs, coffee shops (let's face it, tech geeks run on caffeine), gas stations, parking, and more.
Free Wi-Fi Finder
JiWire's Free Wi-Fi Finder app makes finding free public Wi-Fi networks a snap. Just open the app, click the Near Me button, and you'll likely see a range of options for quickly catching up on email, accessing the Web, and checking for calendar updates, among other common actions.
What iPhone apps do you prefer?
I'd enjoy hearing about what apps readers find helpful. So, if you use an iPhone application that's helped you be more productive within your IT consulting operation, tell me about it in the discussion.Get weekly consulting tips in your inbox TechRepublic's IT Consultant newsletter, delivered each Monday, offers tips on how to attract customers, build your business, and increase your technical skills in order to get the job done. Automatically sign up today!
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.