Topic overview

Apps and online tools

Apps on a mobile phone screen

Mobile phone apps and tools have transformed the way we work and live. You can check email, manage your accounts, arrange meetings and collaborate on documents whenever and wherever you choose too.

Whether you use an Apple device or an Android one, there are literally thousands of apps to choose from that promise to make working your life simpler, faster and better.

In this round-up, we talk about what business apps are, how they work and provide some guidance on our favourite business apps.

What are business apps?

Business apps are designed to make working life more manageable. You can find business apps designed to keep you in control and in charge of all aspects of your business.

There are apps for every conceivable business task. You’ll find apps to help you get organised, apps to help you work remotely, apps to help you remember your passwords, apps that help you keep up with the conversations on Twitter and manage your activity on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks and even apps thathelp customers find you.

Mobile phone apps provide a connection to your software, systems and staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They’re also able to share information with other programmes. For instance, you can update a document on your mobile phone, and share it across your network.

Mobile apps are also highly secure. The advent of new technology such as fingerprint recognition and two-factor authentication means that hackers are less likely to gain access to your crucial information, data or systems.

How do business apps work?

To download a business app, simply find it on the app store (either Apple or Google Play) and click install. As long as you’ve got enough memory space on your phone, it should download automatically.

If you already have an existing account with a provider (your bank, for example), you can use your existing login to access your accounts.

Some providers will ask for additional information to ensure that you are who you say you are. This is particularly true of apps that give you access to your bank accounts or financial information, but it’s all for your safety.

What business apps should I download?

There are millions of apps out there, but we’ve produced a round-up of the best small business apps on the market. You’ll find details of our favourite apps, covering communication, project management, accounting and more.

To ensure information sharing is seamless, we recommend choosing apps from suppliers that you already have relationships with. For instance, if you use Microsoft Office at work, you can download the office app suite and share documents across your platforms.

It’s worth checking user review of apps to see what others think of them. If an app receives low reviews, it may have bugs that affect how it performs.

Are business apps safe?

Business apps are as safe as any other piece of software on your computer, tablet or phone. If only download business apps from trusted-sources and recognised brands, then you should have few issues.

New security technologies such as fingerprint recognition and two-factor authentication improve your protection, making it harder for criminals to access your business information.

In fact, the most significant risk to your protection is you. If you lose your phone or fail to lock it, then it could fall into the wrong hands. Thankfully, there are programmes, such as Apple’s Find My app, that enable you to disable your phone remotely.

Can I build a business app?

The possibilities of mobile apps are exciting, and many businesses are keen to develop their business apps. Creating a business app should be approached with caution. The process can be expensive, and to be successful, it must either deliver a unique experience to the customer or fulfil a specific requirement.

If you are keen to develop your business app, before approaching a software company take some time to explore whether the app you want to create already exists. If not, ask yourself why. Consider if there are other, potentially cheaper, ways of delivering the same functionality. Could you improve your website, for example?

If you are set on creating an app, work with a supplier that you can trust. It can be cheaper to out-source development to companies in other countries, but you must be confident that you can manage the process and appraise the outcome.  

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