5 Business Apps Guaranteed to Increase Your Productivity in 2016

The age of the paperless office is well and truly upon us. One need only pay a visit to a shared workspace like WeWork or The Office Group in London, to witness the army of entrepreneurs and small businesses busily working from hot desks. Their offices simply consisting of; a tablet, a Smartphone, a MacBook Air, white ear phones, and an array of chargers.

For these tech entrepreneurs, their offices are virtual, and provided they can access the Internet they can operate from pretty much anywhere. Amongst the key enablers is the growing ubiquity of Software as a Service (SaaS) or cloud based solutions, that facilitate access to data stored remotely freeing the user from the need to work in one physical location. The days of desktops overflowing with icons, files and folders are also well gone, with many screens reduced to 4 colourful icons representing; Dropbox, Firefox, Skype and Spotify. These 4 links with the world are all that is needed to operate effectively.

Google is often a first port of call for many of these same users, as many use the Google suite to manage mail, calendaring and to share documents. However, while we are all familiar with the flexibility the Google application brings, there are a number of other less well known solutions that are increasing in popularity. These tools are very different in terms of how they help businesses, but share common traits, as they all benefit their users by enhancing productivity and efficiency via SaaS based solutions.

What are these tools and how can they help your business?

1/ Klipboard – Organize Field Employees & Eradicate Paper

Klipboard is a mobile field service platform for the management of field based employees, and the capture of data from a tablet. It is suitable for undertaking assessments, maintenance records, inspections, surveys or just about any process you can imagine. Gone are the days of relying on paper based methods, instead, Klipboard simplifies data collection, task scheduling, location mapping and messaging. The easy to use, consumer style app, enables employees to capture text, images, signatures or view documents, plus more – even when offline. No more printing, filing or lost paper forms!

Where: Klipboard.io

2/ Docusign – Send, Sign and Approve Documents

Docusign enables parties to electronically sign documents replacing the need to print out documents, to sign them and then to either scan, fax or post them. Again the solution is a simple one, however the benefits are significant in terms of efficiency and productivity gains especially for those who need to obtain lots of signed documents.

Where: Docusign

3/ eFax – Easy Faxing Anywhere

For most of us the days of waiting impatiently by fax machines are well and truly behind us. However, there are numerous professions (including the legal one) where faxes are still used on a daily basis. While this will undoubtedly change in the years to come, faxes remain an important communication tool for certain documents. What has changed however, is the reliance on physical fax machines has evaporated, and efaxes are widely used as viable alternatives where the fax is transmitted directly to your phone or computer.

Where: eFax

4/ Scanner Pro – A Scanner in Your Pocket

Scanner Pro allows you to turn your iPhone or iPad into a portable scanner. The simple app enables you to capture an image which is converted to a PDF, which can then be emailed, printed, uploaded or faxed from the app. The use cases are varied, and with its extremely competitive pricing it serves to yet again replace scanners, a hardware device that was commonplace in most offices up until fairly recently.

Where: iOS, Readdle

5/ Xpenditure – Claim Back Your Time

Xpenditure is a leading expense management solution that works on a very simple premise. Employees simply take a photo of their receipt (using the app), submit it, and the software does the rest. It reads the key data including; the date, merchant, currency, amount and spend category. The net result is that the finance team have real time access to expenses, enabling them to have full visibility on company expenses, while also enabling them to review, to process and to reimburse employees in real time. The entire process is transformed, and the days of multiple steps, involving a range of different parties, and envelopes stuffed with receipts are consigned to history. (Disclosure: the author works with Xpenditure)

Where: iOS, Android

In summary, a number of factors have combined to enable employees to work efficiently while on the road. Hardware has become more powerful, with increased battery life and lighter models (especially for laptops) enabling workers to be truly mobile. Wifi has also become much more ubiquitous, enabling employees to connect to applications more easily (alternatively they can tether from their mobile devices).

Business software has also matured, and a whole range of applications have been created which replace older more paper based processes. What is most attractive about these developments, is that for the most part the cost of these applications is much more competitive than existing solutions without even factoring in the significant efficiency gains, improved security and reduction in errors that these solutions bring.

This article originally appeared here

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10 Fantastic Apps For Business Travelers

So you are all set to embark on your next business trip.

You meticulously make a note: Travel light. Pack Small.

You made those calls and confirmed all your meetings.

Great! Fantastic! But here’s the thing, this is just the beginning.

There are flights to catch, rooms to book, cabs to hail and the most dreaded job of all, preparing the expense report.

Now, you don’t want to end up being unprepared for any of it. That’s not only going to cost you a lot of money but also make you lose your sanity.

With a handful of apps, life on the road can get really smooth. Here are 10 fantastic business apps that will save you a lot of hassle and let you travel with ease.

Apps For Business Travelers

1. TripIt- Keep your master travel itinerary at one place

How does this brilliant app help you?

It’s quite simple. All you have to do is forward all confirmation emails to your TripIt account and the app takes care of everything. TripIt keeps all your travel information at one place. From hotel bookings and flight schedules for all your car rentals and meetings, TripIt organizes all information systems.

There’s another plus point; this app lets you share this information with your friends, family and co-workers. Moreover, it lets you access your travel plans on any device and even when you are offline.

Imagine how sorted your business trip can get!

Availability: iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone 7, Android, Blackberry

2. Yelp

Looking for good places to eat, while dreaming about scrumptious burritos or maybe that earthy Italian wine?

Yelp is your ideal solution.

The app helps you find restaurants and shops by categories or search terms. So all this information is in the palm of your hand!

Important piece of advice: Don’t blindly trust the reviews. The online word of mouth in this case might be misleading as the reviews are written by anyone and everyone. So, they need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Availability: iPhone, Android

3. Google Translate- Breaking the language barrier

When going to a different country for a business trip, language barrier can be one of the biggest hurdles. In fact, it is one of the most common challenges in the international business environment.  A little conversation starter can lighten that uneasiness.

With its two new incredibly excellent features: real-time voice and sign translation, Google Translate works effectively. The app will help you navigate your new surroundings in no time.

Availability: iPhone, Android

4. FlightTrack Pro- Track flights in seconds

FlightTrack Pro offers all your flight details at your fingertips and that too within seconds. You can track your flights worldwide with big beautiful maps. (Bonus: They are available offline too.) The app provides you with all the information such as gate numbers, delays and real time departure.

Also, if your flight gets cancelled, FlightTrack Pro is right there to help you find an alternate flight with a swipe and tap.

Availability: iPhone

5. Evernote- Makes you more organized

Photos, screenshots, texts, voice notes or any other piece of information- you name it and Evernote will make sure you capture and organize it systematically. From short texts to detailed research, the app lets you write and save notes of all types.

Evernote helps compartmentalize all your information that matters, thereby ensuring you don’t forget the important details of your meeting or your travel arrangements.

Availability:  iPhone, Chrome OS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Microsoft Windows, webOS, OS X

6. Google Maps

When it comes to location services, Google Maps is one of the most remarkable apps that instantly come to your mind. The app is undoubtedly the king of digital maps. That’s perhaps the reason why the app sees an average of more than 79 million unique users per month. With constant improvements and the addition of new features, Google Maps remains the market leader in map apps.

Availability: iPhone, Android

Price: Free

7. Expensify- Track your expenses with ease

Keeping a track of all the travel expenses can be a hassle. It’s very easy to lose a receipt or to forget how much you paid for a dinner the other night. But with Expensify by your side, you need not worry any more. The app allows you to keep track of a variety of expenses. You can enter the expenses manually, you could scan your receipts with the SmartScan feature, or you could simply mail these receipts to receipts@expensify.com. And then you can instantly catalog them. With Expensify, you can now stay on top of your finances as you travel along.

Availability: iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows

8. HotelTonight- Booking last-minute rooms just got convenient

With HotelTonight, you are just five clicks away from booking your hotel anytime, anywhere. Yes, you read that right! In case you forgot to book your hotel in advance, HotelTonight acts as your savior. The app lets you find amazing places to stay and even book a room on your very day of arrival. Booking hotel rooms at the last minute and that too the ones that fall in your price range can be an arduous task. But now with the HotelTonight app, you can put those worries aside.

Availability: iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone

9. Kayak- Your travel agent

From car rentals and flight bookings to currency conversion, Kayak helps get your hands on all kinds of travel information in no time; and with the newly added feature Price Forecasts, you can choose the best flight deals on Kayak. With Kayak on your device, you wouldn’t even need a travel agent.

Availability: iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 7, kindle

10. Viber- Avoid insane phone bills and stay in touch

So you are travelling outside your country, well in that case Viber is what you need the most to save yourself from insanely large phone bills. Free voice calls, video calls and instant messages over the internet- that’s Viber app at its best.

Just as a search engine is synonymous with Google, free calls are becoming synonymous with Viber.

Availability:  Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Nokia, Bada, Mac, Microsoft

Having these apps on your mobile device, will help you get through the tediousness and hassle of modern travel. Your business trip will undoubtedly be more productive and hassle free.

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