Operating a small business requires devoting your time to many different tasks, from sales and accounting to daily administration. Keeping up with the workload can be a huge burden for entrepreneurs with limited staff. Fortunately there are many software tools available to streamline, organize, and even integrate different business roles and processes. Here are four that every growing company should consider essential.
CRM solutions allow you to store, track, and organize your customer information. Details such as contact information, service histories, transactions records, and even notations or advise can be added or edited for every customer you have on record. Centralizing this data provides an in-depth profile so that customer-facing employees such as sales or customer service can call up the information and see at a glance who they’re dealing with. This includes what the customer’s preferences are and other insights to create a smoother, more rewarding experience for both parties.
The information can also be used for reporting or integrated into business intelligence to provide analytic insights for marketing, customer acquisition, and customer retention.
POS systems are important for any retailers, but also for companies who have sales people, service agents or consultants in the field authorized to accept payments. POS technology is basically a high-tech, convenient cash register, but benefits your company in many ways. POS systems are designed to upload transaction data directly to computer systems, so that you can monitor sales activity in real time, or later analyze sales histories down to specific products, locations, timeframes, or sales people with little effort.
With the rise of smart phones, mobile payment apps allow your field staff to utilize the same activity. This saves your company time and money over traditional manual sales data collection. Automated receipts and expedited payments are also conveniences the customer will appreciate.
ERP solutions allow you to do material and equipment management reliably. Many systems include a range of functions, such as inventory control, automated materials ordering, reporting, analysis, allocation, and scheduling. ERP systems can be used to manage a single warehouse and production system, or multiple locations over the cloud. They can also integrate with mobile apps so that your sales people, delivery drivers, or job estimators working in the field can utilize ERP over the cloud. They can also work with vendors to monitor pricing and lead times.
ERP, in effect, lets you monitor every aspect of your logistics to save costs, shorten lead times, support collaboration, adhere to regulatory compliance, forecast material usage, and other benefits that improve efficiency and increase your competitive edge.
In today’s technologically advanced world, no business is complete without a mobile app. Having an app instantly increases your customer base to those consumers who prefer to complete all their transactions on their mobile device. It also provides instant advertising when you make your app available for download. If you’ve never had an app before, it would definitely be a good idea to work with a professional to make sure it is well-designed and intuitive. The consumers who will be most attracted to being able to access your business on mobile will also be the ones who will be most concerned with ease of use, so it’s imperative that the two go hand in hand.
If you are thinking that your business would not benefit from a mobile app, remember that today even banks and credit unions have mobile applications. Nearly every business imaginable will benefit from getting on mobile, and it’s very likely that yours is no exception.
Growing business are bound to be engaged in many projects, such as installing new machinery, improving layouts for greater efficiency, or developing new software systems or projects. All of these, and essentially any business function or changes, are managed more efficiently with project management software. Usually, project management solutions are handled by a project manager, or PM. The PM is responsible for developing time tables, providing labor, tools, and materials in the right time and place, and meeting stated requirement while coming in on time and under budget.
You can make this complex and demanding role easier for your company with software. PM programs allow different aspects of the project to be designed and monitored from one central solution. The data that results can also be used to suggest improvements and insights into later projects. Choosing the software packages for your business needs creates a work environment that’s more productive and coordinated. They help to reduce errors and improve productivity. While cost and training requirements are also considerations, integrating powerful software tools into your activities is a smart investment.
Mobile marketing currently represents one of the newest forms of digital marketing present on the market. For those who do not know, it provides customers with personalised information, promoting services, goods and ideas. The technique has been regarded as any marketing activity that is conducted through a network that mobile users are constantly connected to.
Some of the main benefits associated with mobile marketing include the possibility to send location and time-sensitive pieces of information, via a wide variety of channels, including push notifications, app-based marketing, QR codes, SMS, MMS, Bluetooth, in-game mobile advertising, voice email and even through automated calls. As we live in the era of smartphones, mobile marketing carried out via push notifications is essential to promoting services, establishing brand loyalty, encouraging people to purchase products or services, but also making sure that existing customers return to buy more.
In this particular infographic compiled by the team behind Website Builder, you will be able to find 104 interesting facts that you don’t know about mobile marketing, including desktop vs. mobile comparisons, niches that work best, great mobile marketing techniques, but also usage, user friendliness, adoption, commerce, search and conversion stats.
The millennial generation may find it hard to believe that there was once a time when people survived without smartphones and apps. Today, there are over two billion smartphones across the globe. These devices have dramatically revolutionized things in the mobile phone industry and have presented unique opportunities for app developers, designers, and other stakeholders associated with the industry. Mobile applications have become an ingrained and essential part of today’s lifestyle, improving the efficiency of processes, and making many daily tasks easier.
Of course, mobile app development has been in continuous growth since the introduction of the technology around two decades ago. The best is yet to come as developers integrate new technologies in the development of smartphones and mobile applications. These are some of the changes that have occurred in app development over the years.
After the initial development of mobile apps, users had to visit a technician’s shop and pay to have the app installed on their device. While the process seemed meaningful at the time, now it is viewed as cumbersome and time-consuming. The installation process for apps has revolutionized over the years. All you have to do is visit the Google Play Store or Apple iTunes, find the app you need, and install it. These platforms have even made it easy for users to pay for premium apps through credit and debit cards and other digital modes of payment.
Research indicates that as at July 2015, there were 3.1 million apps in iTunes and Google Play app stores. The iTunes store alone receives around 1,600 new app submissions every day. With so many applications to choose from across the various categories and genres, it would be difficult to get the best ones without a review system. However, developers have made it possible for users to rate apps on a 5-star tier, and even provide useful feedback on their experiences. The info makes it easy to identify the best apps with high ratings and reviews without going through the pain of installing and testing them out on your smartphone.
Initially, apps were primarily designed to run mobile phone tasks only, including accessing the Internet, communication, entertainment, and the like. However, today, apps have been integrated with other technologies to increase their capabilities and functions. For instance, apps have been developed to control televisions, computers, door locks, vehicles, and other gadgets and appliances. Once the app is integrated with the device, you can send remote commands to the gadget and monitor its activity.
Applications like AtHome Camera have taken home security to another level by allowing you to keep an eye on your home when you are away through remote monitoring with cloud video recording. Upgrading your home security is easy with mobile apps like Pulse and are gaining traction with home owners and business owners. These apps come with advanced features such as motion sensors, alarm recording, remote capture, split video viewing, and two-way talk. With these, you can monitor the safety of your home and even communicate with individuals in the home in real-time.
A decade ago, it would take months or even years before the launching of a new app. The negotiations and processes involved were lengthy and complicated. However, today the process of digitally downloading software has led to the emergence of a new type of mobile web developer. The ability to design, develop, and launch an app has been made easier, and developers can take even minutes to get one in the market.
App development has and is still evolving as the world goes through continuous tech advancements. This comes as good news to developers who will be able to get something out there without spending months behind a computer. As for consumers, these changes are providing access to millions of apps that will improve their lifestyle and increase efficiency in their daily operations.
Having a mobile app for your business is not any more impossible. You may think that this is a privilege, which only big companies can afford to have, and years ago this was probably true. Nowadays, virtually anyone can make an app not only for business but also for personal use. If you are an entrepreneur with a small business, you can take advantage of this chance in order to increase business growth.
Some techie entrepreneurs can develop their own mobile app for which they need special hosting for their apps, for example a specialized ASP.NET hosting to keep their mobile app up and running.
Nevertheless, you don’t have to be techie to launch your own mobile app. There are also some websites and platforms that offer great information and insights, which can help you better understand the process of creating a mobile app without any knowledge of coding.
The benefits of having your own mobile apps for business are endless, and today we will cover a few of them.
A company that has its own mobile app is more likely to build a base of loyal customers than a company that depends solely on advertising.
This is because advertising formats today are beginning to annoy users and consumers, so they are less effective in terms of building customer loyalty. Mobile apps can be a form of advertising that engages customers until they become used to such engagement.
More and more businesses today are beginning to have their own mobile apps, and pretty soon every business will want one.
If this scenario happens, then the competition may be focusing on who offers the best mobile app. This means that having a mobile app is your first step to beat the competition, and your goal is to have the best app available.
You don’t need to conduct a massive survey and a complex marketing intelligence study to understand your customers and your market.
Since a mobile app can promote customer engagement, the data you need is right at your fingertips. All you have to do is to design your mobile app to be able to collect data, feedback, and user behavior.
These days, customers are less likely to visit a company’s website to chat with a customer service agent using a traditional web chat platform or messenger. Since most people spend much longer time with their mobile device, they would likely connect to a customer service support either through social media app like Facebook or through a company’s mobile app.
To provide convenience to your customers, you should connect to them easily through their smart phones simply by having a use-friendly mobile app. In this way, you can easily address their concerns and establish good customer service.
Mobile users are more likely to visit a company’s mobile app than a company’s mobile-friendly website because it is more convenient to navigate a mobile app than a mobile version of a site.
Do not rely on your website alone to improve your online presence. Having a mobile app is another effective way to improve your online presence.
Why your business needs a mobile app, It’s not a business requirement to launch a corresponding mobile app, but it’s a smarter choice you can make, especially today that more and more entrepreneurs and digital marketers are creating their own mobile apps.
While it’s not too late, you can try a mobile app for your business, and see whether or not it works for you as most businesses find this concept favorable as mobile apps are trending.
If you are thinking about creating a mobile app for your business, you are certainly not alone. Studies show that mobile apps offer new and established businesses opportunities for exponential growth. While giving customers the ability to access your business on their smartphone may be a brilliant business idea, it does come with certain legal issues that must be addressed during the development process.
The best case scenario is that your app will find a wide audience of consumer users. The best way to protect yourself from potential litigation is to thoroughly address the following legalities during the development process.
Today there are more kids using free gaming apps on mobile devices than most of us ever imagined possible. This explosion in business has led to an equally unexpected number of refused and contested charges on in-app purchases. Popular gaming apps are full of in-game purchases that are often facilitated without the child’s clear knowledge. When parents see hundreds of dollars worth of in-app purchases charged to their accounts, they naturally contest the charges.
The best way to avoid a problem connected with these in-app purchases is to only include potential in-app charges that are necessary to the game and always in a way that is transparent to the user. Discuss this with your app developer and your company’s legal representatives to ensure that the legal ramifications are clear.
It is an unavoidable reality that your app will be able to collect consumer data. That is the nature of running an app business. However, there are ways that you can avoid legal problems connected with improper data collection. The way to do this is to assess what kind of data the app is collecting and why it is collecting it. If your app is collecting data that is not essential, that is data serving no purpose in the app’s function, then you should have your developers modify the app to conform with proper data collection standards.
If you want to start an app business most of the time you will try to avoid potential legal issues by hiding behind torrents of legalese in the form of lengthy ‘Terms and Conditions’ statements. The truth is that these statements will not truly protect you from litigation if an app user’s rights have been violated. It is therefore imperative to discuss all of the above points and more with a lawyer, like those at Carter West, while it is still in the development phase.
There are always legal issues that arise anytime new technology comes into the limelight. The development of app businesses is no exception. Thankfully, there are useful solutions to many of the potential legal issues that can arise when starting an app business. If you are mindful of the above legal points during the development of your app, and discuss other potential app related legal issues with a corporate attorney, you are sure to protect yourself and the success of your app business in the future.
App development is the latest successful business trend and for good reason.
Businesses are creating powerful apps for numerous platforms, providing tremendous value to their customer base, and ultimately making a lot of money in the process.
The only problem is that many startups have a tough time affording the app development process. If you attempt to do this as savvy as possible, you could possibly get away with spending around $10,000-$50,000 on the first development phase of your app. But if you really want your offering to be as professional as possible, you should enlist the help of an expert agency that specializes in app development. With that said, we’ll take a look at some of the factors that go into pricing app development, we’ll discuss monitoring for errors and we’ll even briefly touch on a money raising method to get your finances off the ground.
Sound good? Let’s get to it.
As you have probably discovered on your own already, there are many different things that factor into app development costs. The more complex the application, the more it’s going to cost. And the more platforms you develop it for, the more your app is going to cost. In fact, let’s take a look at a simple price breakdown to help you get a better understanding of the overall pricing structure and what you can expect to pay for professional development.
As you can see, the development process is no simple walk in the park. It’s quite costly upfront, but if you develop a valuable app that your customers will use and appreciate, it will eventually pay for itself and all whole lot more.
Unfortunately, many would-be developers often forget about error monitoring during the development process.
It’s so easy to potentially make a huge mistake during the development phase that could accidentally get overlooked.
If this were ever to happen to you and your team, you could end up spending countless hours, time, and money developing an app that will not work correctly.
So, to prevent this from happening, you must institute a system for error monitoring that will catch any potential costly mistakes before they turn into huge financial problems that really end up hurting you in the wallet.
When all’s said and done, it’s going to cost a great deal of upfront money to complete a successful and professional development process for your latest application.
Many people aren’t comfortable shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the project themselves. They’d rather use easy no cost fundraising to gauge interest and raise enough money to complete the project.
By going the crowdsourcing route, not only will you bring in enough money to develop your app, but you’ll also start building your customer base by giving funders the app itself and other interesting perks that your audience will find useful.
At the end of the day, the app development process is very expensive. Make no bones about it. But if you have a great idea that will provide tremendous value to your audience, it’s worth it to take a chance and see how it goes.
Title: Super-Connector at OutreachMamaWendy is a super-connector with OutreachMama and Youth Noise NJ who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition. You can contact her on Twitter.
Mobile application development is one of the most popular software categories precisely because it is relatively easy to get started. While it might seem the compatibility and cost issues are significant, the truth is there are many ways to build mobile apps that don’t necessarily require specialized equipment, software or even intricate programming knowledge. Here are a few ways you can get started learning how to build mobile device applications.
Prototyping and Rapid Development
Tools like Adobe’s Comp CC make it possible for designers and digital artists to produce working mockups of a mobile application interface in a fraction of the time it would normally take to hand-code the same functionality. Like the Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools for desktops, these utilities make it possible to produce a structure that can be enhanced with strategically placed functions for maximum capability with minimal technical risk.
One of the best kept secrets of the mobile development world is the fact Adobe’s Flash IDE can export fully functional applications to mobile devices with exactly the same capability as the desktop equivalent. This can be an enormous advantage, since the Flash IDE is leaps and bounds ahead of most other tools in its category
Java and Formal Training
The language of choice in most academic institutions is Java. It combines relatively simple syntax with a well understood object model that is fairly straightforward for beginners. Java does require study and most developers will find at least a year of experience vital to their ability to be productive and reliable. Students who pursue a degree like a masters of computer science online, can learn Java and immediately apply it to app development because Java is the native language for the Android mobile operating system.
Developing for mobile devices is not all that different from development for desktop PCs. The ability of a developer to work confidently on the PC will be of great use when developing for mobile devices. This is a skill that should be developed. While mobile devices can be a fast-moving technology and present a number of challenges, they do offer some interesting alternatives to the stationary computer and its heavier, more established and more powerful applications.
Technology, progress, and education tend to go hand in hand and 2016 will be set to be an interesting year in new technologies made for education. These emerging technologies are already progressing students in unimaginable ways. Below are the top five new technologies you can expect on university campuses and how they are doing more for your academic career.
Wearables will soon push students and educators to create many amazing things they could only dream of a few years ago. Wearables will help students with fitness and school notifications, they will also assist in student engagement. Soon, with wearables, students will be able to interact more with different lectures in engineering and design. Educators will also be able to monitor, track, and communicate with students much more efficiently. Overall, wearables will push collaboration to new heights.
Fully Connected Classrooms
We are already experiencing smart homes and cars, but soon we will have smarter classrooms. Every piece of classroom technology will soon be able to be connected to internet enabled devices. Classrooms will soon be experiencing things like Gesture control devices which will allow educators to collect more data on students and ultimately creating a more dynamic environment.
Mobile apps are doing more in universities than many might have predicted they would. Students and professors alike are working with these new applications to get better education and new chance in the classroom. SoundNote, for example, records audio for students to listen to lectures and go over verbal notes. ShareYourBoard is an android app that allows users to photograph a whiteboard and store the data for fast notes as well. Exam prep apps like BenchPrep and TCY Exam Prep are able to network students with fellow users who are supplied with notes, quizzes and more.
As technology keeps growing smarter, educators and researchers will use them as aides to work. Researchers will be able to use supercomputers to help with massive data collection and analysis and educators will use them to help students with disabilities. Even getting a degree in health information management requires being educated in the latest analytics and data information collection technologies. We have already seen robotic instruments revolutionize the special education field such as helping withdrawn ASD students.
3-D printing is still a fairly new technology and will continue to amaze. However, it already has begun to change education environments. Students now don’t only get to see a picture of a specific thing, but also get to actually use and interact with the item in question. With the ability to create, students will create new ideas and be able to work in their field faster.
Virtual Reality is the best technology to not only engage educators and students, but to help immerse students into any situation. Imagine students experimenting with different career prospects, or students being explained complex lessons in a new world that will help them see, feel, and experience it, rather than just reading about it.
These are the top five exciting technologies coming to your local university. Get ready to experience an educational movement towards the future where students and educators will create, wear, engage, and immerse themselves into new educational frontiers we could only dream about. Students should be ready for technology in and out of the classroom.
Technology has made the life of quite a few disciplines simpler during their day-to-day routine. There are a plethora of free and paid apps available for the three major platforms: iOS, Android, and Windows. Professions such as teachers, journalists, drivers, civil engineers, and salespeople are beneficiaries of app innovation in classrooms or on the road. Here is a review with a few app suggestions.
The classroom is the breeding ground for the S.T.E.M. revolution. Educators are on the front line with apps that take attendance followed by transferring the information to the office. Progress reports are no longer a cumbersome task with mounds of paperwork. Instead, the same app will track and measures grades and test scores. The data is then populated into standardized forms that parents can receive electronically or via mail. Scholarship works seamlessly with both iOS and Android devices.
News stories happen anywhere in the world so journalists need flexibility to discuss the details with all the key players. Language translation apps are becoming the virtual linguist for journalist chasing breaking news. The options will have as many as 90 languages with features that sound out dialects so engaging with subjects is possible. Android and iOS platforms have solutions including Google Translate or iTranslate that can be upgraded when needed.
Graduating with a ms civil engineering translates to more responsibility. Top projects are accessible, but a helping hand will ensure expectations are met. It is no longer necessary to carry awkward blueprints and schematics to every work site. A virtual assistant that can produce whiteboards in the field is an ideal resource for these busy professionals. Trello is an iOS and Android life-saver with the capacity to create and share real-time information with team members. They can also comment and offer feedback regardless of their location.
To provide an estimate or have contracts signed requires the sales team to be in the field. Impromptu meetings and questions from customers or vendors can easily receive face-to-face responses with the assistance of innovation. Video chatting is quickly taking several industries by storm including real estate and manufacturing. Fring is an app that allows up to four different stakeholders to join the conversation simultaneously.
Running a company on a shoestring budget makes some people think they should play by the book and hope for the best. Well, the truth is, belt tightening and unimaginative philosophy will not get you very far. Think in terms of bold moves, daring initiatives and unconventional business strategies. They can help you spread brand awareness, connect with the customers on an emotional level, create a sharable content, and increase your exposure to the public. This seems like a way which shows much more promise, does it not?
Out-of-the-box and guerilla marketing tactics are a great way to jumpstart marketing activities. According to research, they boost the sales by 30%, while considerably cutting down the marketing budget. This is a win-win business scenario, especially for startups looking to get their operations off the ground. Many turn to campaigns that spark attention on social media and produce content with the viral potential. Infographics, for example, suit the shortened attention spans and visual cravings of modem consumers, easily stealing the online show. Now, focusing on the immense power of the internet is fine, but do not neglect the other, “real world” opportunities.
The stage is set
Today, customers are bored and overwhelmed with content fatigue. They are bombarded from all sides by generic ads and aggressive visuals. Unless the ad is original, they will likely hate it. What they want is something new and exciting. Hence, companies that manage to create a fresh consumer experience are leading the way on the market. You will hear a lot about the importance of finding out where your audience is. But, have you ever considered going so far as to put an ad in a bathroom of a bar where your potential customers spend time? The whole world is the stage, whether it is a prime digital real estate in the form of social media, or bare walls of the urban jungle.
The great outdoors
So, why not contact local street artists to turn dull, gray surfaces into vivid displays of your business philosophy and company’s values? Here, you are dwelling in the area of guerilla marketing, which most often manages to spark the attention of the wider audience. Daily mail is just one of the companies that had much success with outdoor ads. Those who want to explore the enthralling three-dimensional marketing further should think in terms of installations. Namely, Proctor & Gamble put a giant green comb on tangled phone lines to prompt people to switch to Rejoice Conditioners. This shows that the surrounding environment is teeming with opportunities, so get you creative juices flowing.
On a personal note
Personalized products are in the spotlight lately, as they stand out from the piles of uniformed items. Master the art of turning mundane, everyday item into something unique that customers will rush to get their hands on. Startups can offer some of them as rewards for customer loyalty and as incentives to spur engagement. Think about giving away some custom USBs, office supplies, T-shirts, gift cards, etc. Also, remember the “Share a Coke” campaign that the famous company launched in June. It swapped the all-famous label with 250 different names, resulting in increased sales and public exposure. This is something startups must use as a fuel for the exhausting business race ahead.
Rise and shine
To achieve success in an unfavorable economic climate, think beyond billboards and ads. Follow avant-garde ideas and stay on top of social trends. This goes a long way toward building lasting relationships with the consumer. Deploy your guerilla squads, arm yourself with peculiar strategies, and present messages in a fun and exciting way. Seek alternatives to existing methods, and beat the competition in the creative department. There is no better way for startups to rise above their disadvantaged position on the market and stay ahead of the pack.