Have you ever daydreamed about a world where you’re not chained to a desk in an office? Thankfully, this vision of a working nirvana isn’t a million miles away. In fact, it’s all right there in that little device in your pocket.
It’s now realistically possible to use your phone or tablet to run a business remotely from the comfort of your home, car, or even on the beach, as we found out at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Whether it’s staying on top of your pipeline, collaborating with the team, or taking care of administrative tasks, there are plenty of apps that can help you run a company without being a slave to the office. Apps that work in the cloud allow you to manage your business across different devices, syncing information in real time.
The consumer apps takeover
But what’s the best app setup to get you working effectively in your new desk-less paradise? The vibe from Mobile World Congress 2015 is that popular consumer communication and productivity apps, not traditional business software, are playing the biggest role in helping companies break through those figurative four walls.
We spoke to several up-and-coming mobile businesses at MWC 2015 about what they were using to run their operations on the go, and the same app names kept coming up. Gmail and Google Drive are huge, and almost everyone we spoke to cited these Google apps as crucial to the mobility of their business. Communication apps like Skype and WhatsApp were also popular among the respondents at the conference.
“We mostly use Gmail and Drive,” said Blandine Weill, Partnership Development Director at app developer Cellfish. “We use it because it’s reliable and, simply put: it works”
Fernando Sanchez-Teran, CEO of mobile marketing platform iadbox, said that WhatsApp had transformed his ability to do business on the move mainly because of its user base:
“Its a matter of critical mass,” he said. “The number of users is incredibly high and it just makes sense. I also like Skype because of its inherent VOIP capabilities”.
The trend towards the ‘consumerization of IT’ was picked up on by Mike Foreman, General Manager of AVG Business in his address to the Mobile Security Forum at MWC 2015. Foreman recognized that the adoption of consumer cloud apps are freeing businesses to work without walls. But he pointed out that the adoption of non-business apps by employees and BYOD policies that allow employees to use their own devices at work can cause huge security headaches.
“Mass ownership of personal mobile devices, the adoption of popular consumer cloud services like Skype and Dropbox for business purposes, and the impact of the Internet of Things have been the catalysts for true ‘businesses without walls’,” said Foreman, who was announcing the release of the new AVG Business SSO (Secure Sign-On) at the event.
“Business in a fully connected environment puts smaller firms at risk of data breaches. AVG Business SSO for the first time makes it simple for businesses without big budgets or in-house IT staff to keep company-confidential data safe, private, and within their control, even while it is shared with employee-owned mobile devices and externally hosted cloud services.”
Once security issues are addressed, it’s clear that the likes of Skype, WhatsApp, and Gmail have the user volume, feature sets, and consumer confidence to make them viable tools to help businesses move out of their four walls. Of course, that’s not to say that these are the only tools that a business needs to make the move towards mobility. For instance, cloud collaboration software opens up a world of corporate social networks where employees can engage and share ideas remotely; project management apps allow you to track business tasks from outside the confines of the meeting room; and inventory management applications can help you track stock without so much as walking past a warehouse.