How business apps are freeing up the way we work

The way that businesses are operating is changing. The traditional 9 to 5 office life is no longer relevant, with companies and employees demanding greater flexibility and mobility than ever before. Increasingly, it is the availability and adoption of technology that is driving this change in workplace behaviour and specifically, business applications.

According to the 2015 Enterprise Mobile Application Report, 59 per cent of businesses plan to use 10 or more employee-facing mobile apps over the next two years and 51 per cent intend to implement 10 or more customer-facing mobile apps across the same period. Clearly, apps are increasingly important to businesses across a wide spectrum of industries and of varying sizes.

In particular, companies that do not possess internal IT departments are using applications to gain a competitive edge. Apps can help businesses meet a variety of workplace aims, such as improving productivity or working remotely, for a fraction of the cost of more traditional solutions. As applications move to the cloud, commercial models are becoming more flexible – particularly with businesses now able to acquire software on a subscription basis. This has helped to level the playing field and meant that organisations with smaller budgets and limited IT support can have access to the same productivity benefits that were previously only accessible to large scale corporations.

Business Apps from EE can help businesses that may not have the time or resources to identify the software tools that they need. Most of the apps are available as a free 30-day trial and many come with inclusive extras for EE business customers. They have been handpicked for their ease of use and productivity benefits, so whether you need help with marketing, online security or managing your finances, there’s likely to be an app to suit your needs.

Smart Forms from EE is a three-tiered solution for businesses, incorporating the Canvas digital forms app (part of Business Apps from EE), a 4GEE data plan and a tablet. The solution enables organisations to reduce their reliance on paper forms, filling them out digitally instead. The Canvas application allows businesses to create their own forms using templates, so they can carry out paperwork across smartphones, tablets or PCs. Vast amounts of data can be easily collected and stored in digital forms, reducing the amount of errors and saving time. The high speeds and reliability of the 4GEE data plan and the portability of the tablet also makes Smart Forms from EE important for businesses that need mobile working.

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Canvas is an app that can be easily tailored to a variety of business needs. Sunsail, a sailing school and private charter company, was able to greatly increase its productivity using the application.

“We get the full benefits of always-on, superfast connectivity, plus the ability to set up and create our own bespoke forms for simple, efficient data collection,” explains Simon Boulding, the company’s events director. “Using the tablets we’re able to complete pretty much everything online – admin, boat inspections, marketing – and all our data is instantly uploaded to the cloud.”

For retail businesses, Connected Retail from EE offers a fully integrated solution allowing them to conduct card purchases, track stock levels and manage operations. The solution includes the Shopwave app, an iZettle card payment terminal, an iPad tablet, a printer, secure case and cash drawer – all running over 4GEE. Altogether, the Connected Retail solution can help a wide range of retailers achieve greater productivity levels, whether you’re running a pop-up shop or a more established branch. Storeys pop-up bar and market in London, for example, relies on Connected Retail from EE to provide an affordable, fast and reliable service for their customers. By using the applications and hardware provided, they can achieve their business aims at a fraction of the cost when compare with traditional point-of-sale (POS) systems.

As part of Connected Retail, the Shopwave app is vital for improving business efficiency. Shopwave runs on superfast 4GEE to enable companies to process transactions at a faster rate and manage their stock levels all from one convenient interface. What’s more, the solution has a tiny footprint so takes up far less space than traditional POS systems, giving retailers more space at the till for merchandise. Businesses also have the choice of purchasing additional retail hardware as part of the Connected Retail solution, or integrating with their existing hardware, such as cash drawer or card payment mechanisms. The Shopwave app also provides full sales reporting, helping firms to better understand their revenue streams and stock taking, as well as assisting with future in-store promotions and marketing campaigns.

Looking ahead to the future of workplace life in the UK, the business trends that are already emerging – the move away from traditional office hours, mobile working and the increasing use of digital technologies – are likely to accelerate in the years to come. Although it can sometimes be difficult for businesses without huge financial resources to keep pace with this change, business applications are offering an affordable way of embracing innovation.

If you are looking for productivity or flexibility enhancements then the kind of software being offered by Business Apps from EE could provide significant benefits. Businesses all over the world are reaping the rewards of apps and you could too.

Image source: Shutterstock/Kirill Wright