Today's IT organization is increasingly tasked with deploying infrastructure and services designed to better support the mobile, always-on enterprise that workers demand today. As technologists strive to put in place innovative offerings that keep users satisfied with mobile services that some call the "window into IT," one of the most important factors is choosing a viable suite of applications that help workers on the road and in the office.
The following mobile apps offer a strong upside in productivity within the smartphone and tablet form factors that line-of-business leaders look to in order to improve worker efficiency.
Platforms: iOS (iPad only)
OmniGraffle is like an uber-cocktail napkin for road warriors with big ideas--just so long as they don't actually put their drinks down on the touchscreen. The mobile app gives users the ability to create diagrams, flow charts, concept maps and even free-form drawings to get their big ideas drawn out, no matter where their travels take them. The IT set can get especially good mileage out of this one to help design networks--you can even find stencils for network diagramming for this iPad program at Graffletopia.com.
Cost: Contact for Pricing
Business intelligence data is often most needed where it's least likely to be tapped into--on the road. IT organizations that can extend their business intelligence data out to mobile devices are likely to win accolades from road warriors who need up-to-the-minute data visualizations to help them make the right decisions, even if they're nowhere near a workstation. Unlike many proprietary flavors of mobile BI apps, Roambi ES4 syncs into a range of data warehouse and business intelligence platforms through back-end server software for integration and front-end publisher and visualization apps to securely send that data to devices.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Blackberry
Nothing's worse than being behind the wheel just a few minutes until a conference call, with no easy way to navigate call-in numbers, conference ID numbers and pass codes without driving like a drunken sailor. The same folks behind the bulk of America's call center headsets over at Plantronics have endeavored to solve this problem with InstantMeeting, a mobile app that detects conference calls in your calendar and imports call details into the interface so that you can call in and authenticate with minimal phone fumbling.
Platforms: iOS (iPad only)
Collateral taps into users' Salesforce data to offer easy document management and viewing on their iPads. With a slick user interface, Collateral makes it easier for users to quickly pull up brochures, sales files and customer information without having to fire up their laptops. The mobile app also has an offline mode, making it possible to load up a document in advance to allay pre-meeting anxiety about connectivity disasters when access to a piece of collateral matters most.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Business contact information is pretty useless when it's stored on grungy business cards settled at the bottom of a bag whose depths haven't been plumbed since Comdex was a legitimate show. Conference regulars and serious networkers can better automate contact information entry by using this mobile app to scan a business card using a camera phone, sync OCR information into contacts, import into Salesforce and even remind you to send a follow-up email to solidify that connection. The cloud backup solution for this app adds an extra $9.99 per year to the pricetag.
Platforms: iOS, Android
Users can hit the "pause" button on the stream of online content thrown at them and easily resume play when it's convenient using the Instapaper mobile app, which downloads online articles into a reader that can be used even when offline. This is an invaluable tool for productive workers during those long flights when the laptop has run out of juice, or the short ones where it isn't even worth bringing it out of its case.
Platforms: iOS, Android, WebOS, Blackberry
No matter their spot on the corporate food chain, anyone who travels for business will tell you that prepping an expense report is a pain. Consider Expensify a bit of a mobile analgesic to ease that particular hurt. The program lets a user scan receipts, track mileage via GPS and prepare reports for corporate approval and direct deposit reimbursement. On the management side, the Expensify platform allows for development of policies, one-click approvals and expense analytics on all Expensify users. The mobile app itself is free, but the service costs $5 per user submitting reports each month.
Platforms: iOS, Android
Cost: Free for DocuSign users
E-signatures are slowly gaining traction within enterprises seeking to limit the physical load of paper flowing into its filing cabinets each year. For organizations that have already chosen DocuSign as its digital signature platform, the company's mobile app is a natural extension to add to that ecosystem. The app allows customers, partners and employees to sign and store documents on their phones or tablets, eliminating the pesky excuse from folks who say, "I'll sign it when I get to my desk."