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4 great examples of mobile apps improving business

EducationYou’ve probably heard all of the mobile statistics by now. Mobile is the fastest growing trend in history. Tablets will outsell PCs/laptops this year. Smartphone and tablets accounted for 70% of total devices sold in 2012. The statistics paint a pretty clear picture.

But, you already know that mobile is the next big thing. You know that mobile apps are quickly becoming essential to the business world. Recognizing the trend is the easy part. So, what’s the problem? If you’re like many companies, the problem is understanding how mobile can improve your business. What type of mobile app should your company build?

If you’re asking yourself those questions, I’d like to help spark some ideas. This article highlights four innovative ways other companies are using mobile apps to improve business. Along with explaining each app, I’ve also explained how you might possibly apply each example to your business. Hopefully, the examples will spark some mobile app ideas for your company:

1. TrendSource brings data input to field agents

MSI_datesA market research and strategic consulting company, TrendSource uses mobile apps to help their field agents find new assignments and input data from their smartphones. In the past, their Field Agents (also known as mystery shoppers) gathered information from their assigned location, took notes during their assignment, and then later submitted the data manually on their computer or over the phone. Thanks to their mobile app, it’s now a one-step process.

“We created MSI Mobile for these individuals to be able to easily input data while in the field instead of having to manually do it later on a computer or over the phone,” says Jordan Bowditch, Marketing Communications Manager at Trendsource. “This has had a significant impact on our operating costs, improved the quality of the data we receive and improved relationships with our Field Agent community.”

How could this apply to your company?
The benefits of this example are pretty clear, and apply to all types of companies. For instance, do you have outside sales people or agents that need to either access data from your database, or update your database while on the road? As the example above illustrates, mobile apps put that ability in the palm of their hands.

2. Midland Medical streamlines their receiving process

A medical supply distributor based in Nebraska, Midland Medical automated their inventory receiving process using mobile apps. In the past, employees logged new inventory on paper, and then manually entered the data into their system. Now, using off-the-shelf smartphones and bluetooth scanners, combined with a custom mobile app, employees instantly scan new inventory directly to their database.

“Before, we’d have to go through the entire check-in process and read the entry once it had been entered into the PC,” explains Ben Dinger, IT Administrator at Midland Medical. “ This meant it might take an hour for an item to appear, which when you’re on a call or in a meeting with a customer, is a long time. Now, as soon as an order hits the Power Systems server, we know about it. And when I say immediately, when it comes to this, I mean literally immediately. This really speeds things up on our end.”

How could this apply to your company?
If you boil it down, what exactly did they do? They took advantage of a smartphone’s ability to read data and communicate that data to their database. When you look at it that way, it applies to all sorts of companies. For instance, companies could use it to track inventory (as mentioned above), automate shipping, or track just about anything with a barcode.

3. Amplify Entertainment offers a better way to communicate

A Florida-based wedding DJ company, Amplify Entertainment uses mobile apps to connect in real-time with their guests. Rather than shouting requests, wedding guests can now make song requests from their table or the dance floor using mobile phones.

“Guests are given small cards that tell them the five ways they can make a request — via text message, Twitter, mobile web app, QR code and “Shout” (the old-fashioned way),” says Nate Long, Owner of Amplify Entertainment. “The requests then get sent live to the DJ’s on-site iPad so he can add them to the song queue. It’s been very popular since it launched on New Year’s Eve 2011. What’s really cool is that since launch, we now receive more mobile requests on average than we do in-person requests.”

How could this apply to your company?
I know what you’re thinking: “That sounds nice, but since we’re not a DJ company, it doesn’t apply to us.” I beg to differ. When you boil it down, what does their mobile app really do? It gives their customers a simpler way to communicate with them. What company doesn’t want that?

How might this apply to a B2B company? Here’s an example: Suppose a B2B company gave their customers a mobile customer portal? Customers could request help, ask questions, or even make purchases from anywhere using their mobile device. Wouldn’t that improve business?

4. VMZINC lets customers view products from anywhere

A global provider of rolled zinc products, VMZINC recently released a mobile app that lets customers browse products and filter/sort products by their desired characteristics. The app even lets users search for nearby VMZINC projects, and then guides the user to the project location.

“In this technology driven day and age, it is more important than ever to effectively reach consumers, and it is imperative for companies to stay up to date with technology trends to remain competitive,” explains Daniel Nicely, Managing Director at Umicore Building Products USA, Inc. and VMZINC ® -US. “Our new mobile app gives us the ability to display our products where our clients are, as well as be in touch with the tools that architects are using on a daily basis.”

Nicely goes on to explain the business benefits of using mobile apps: “The beauty of using a mobile app is that it opens a whole new world of engagement opportunities as all features can be done in the palm of a hand from any location and offers users an easy way to share detailed information across all contributors to a project.”

How could this apply to your company?
As Nicely mentioned, their mobile app lets them display their products to their customers at any time, wherever they are. In essence, it helps their customers do business with them. What company doesn’t want that? If your customers could browse and purchase your products or services from anywhere, on any device, wouldn’t that help business? Of course!

Wrap Up

Just as the rise of the internet drove the need for web applications, the rise of mobile devices drives the need for mobile business apps. As outlined in the examples above, mobile apps hold great potential for all types of businesses. They can help automate manual processes, bring additional capabilities to your outside sales people, let you better connect with your customers, and much more.

The big question: How will your company take advantage of mobile?

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