Once upon a time, mobile applications were for fun and games. Sure, the better ones could send a text or an email. But for the most part we downloaded apps to kill Angry Birds, look up a nearby restaurant, tweet out a brilliant comment to our followers or take a goofy photo of our friends at a bar.
But times have changed. I'm now able to watch Game of Thrones on my smartphone, thank the Gods. And slowly but surely, businesses are beginning to adopt mobile applications to help them better manage their customers, collaborate with their teams and make their employees more productive. Which all, in turn, serves to please the Cash Flow Gods. The choices are growing and their power is increasing.
Of all the choices available, here are ten great mobile apps that will help increase your company's cash flow too.
Basecamp. A good customer relationship management (CRM) application is important for finding and nurturing customers and prospects. But a good, mobile project manager will keep all deadlines and jobs on track, whether they're for customers or just internal. And that's what Basecamp does, with tasks, Gant charts, alerts, workflows and other team building and communication tools. With Basecamp, your projects will finish on time and with better results and your bank account will show the results.
DocuSign. Ever since my company began using this service we've seen our sales cycle decrease substantially and our cash flow improve. With DocuSign, our quotes, contracts and service agreements are uploaded and immediately sent, with a link, to our customers for their e-signature. No more printing, converting, faxing, mailing and e-mailing. No more undelivered messages, bouncebacks, wrong recipients, bad addresses or missed communications. Our clients receive, review, click their approval and everything's legal and ready to invoice.
Feedly. Knowledge is power and with Feedly, a mobile newsreader, you've got all the knowledge you need right on your smartphone and it's updated every second. I create categories in my Feedly app to bring me up to the minute news on products, services, technologies and the latest developments in my industry. And OK, I'm also interested in what the Kardashians are up to too, OK? With Feedly, I'm able to answer customer questions, bring them the most recent information and know what my competitors (and Kim and Chloe) are doing. I help bring my customers information about their business, their industry and the economy that they often don't have time to learn. This helps me stay one step ahead and provide a value added service that people continue to pay me for.
Insightly. Insightly is a powerful and fast growing cloud and mobile based customer relationship management (CRM) application that will enable your sales team to track their sales, forecasts, opportunities, follow-ups, contacts, notes and calendar from whatever device they choose. With Insightly, you'll find potential sales that were once lost will stop falling through the cracks and your mobile team will be up to date on their prospects and customers.
Office 365. Although facing formidable competition from the likes of Google and others, Microsoft Office still has more than 100 million users around the world and remains (in my opinion) the top productivity and collaboration tool for any sized business. Its mobile apps will increase your cash flow by improving your team's productivity as they integrate with both cloud and desktop offerings and provide users the power of Word, Excel and other tools on their smartphones and tablets securely and quickly. And, thank the Gods again, Microsoft is making this all happen regardless of your operating system.
Periscope. Voted Apple's best new iPhone of 2015 and acquired this year by Twitter, Periscope enables you to stream video real time to your Twitter followers from your smartphone. If you don't believe me, just follow Howie Mandel and you'll see what I mean. You can keep your fans and community up to date, show them what's going on in your warehouse or factory, broadcast training and educational events or interview customers and partners and broadcast everything live. And then you can save what you've recorded to upload to your website later to inform your community and provide them with the information they need to keep coming back to you with orders.
Shopify. If you're running a retail store you'll need to engage with your customers on the other side of the counter and still give yourself the ability to ring up the sale and collect payment without the need of a cash register. And that's what Shopify is all about -- a mobile point of sale system that also offers powerful ecommerce and social media purchasing tools. Shopify will maintain inventory for you so that you can get more sales (and generate more cash flow) with recommendations and quick transactions.
Slack. One of my favorite communication tools (and one of the best of 2015), no organization is complete without a mobile group communications tool like Slack which integrates your email and combines text and instant messaging into a single, consolidated database for sharing and searching of all your corporate messages regardless of the sender or recipient. Watch your cash flow improve with faster and more informed communications.
Square. While Apple, Google and Samsung duke it out in the mobile payments universe your customers are going to continue to use their credit cards. So at least for the foreseeable future you need to give them a way to quickly pay and move on with their lives. And that's exactly what Square does. Already used by millions of merchants, taxi drivers, craftsmen and service professionals the Square reader clips on to any mobile device and with a quick swipe collects your cash faster and more profitably than the old way of invoicing and chasing, even after you've paid their processing fee.
Zendesk. A cloud based, customer service and support application that will enable you and your customers to create tickets whenever a problem comes up. Workflow can then be used to assign these tickets (or problems, or cases or issues or whatever you want to call them) to the appropriate person - wherever they are and whatever device they're using - to get resolved with reminders, alerts and updates built in to keep everyone in the loop. Happy customers means returning customers and returning customers means more cash for your business.
I'll be reviewing these, and other great mobile apps on a webinar tomorrow too.
A version of this column previously appeared on Inc.com.