The cloud is redefining how we live and do business. It is now being recognised as a global economic engine underpinning new innovations, new business models and even entirely new industries. Now data can be created, stored, disseminated and accessed real-time from anywhere in the world that is connected to the internet. This has created a data explosion with 90% of the world's data being created in the last 2 years!
The global app ecosystem is leveraging this plethora of data and is fast becoming one of the biggest marketplaces in the world. There are now apps servicing all parts of a business - accounting, operations, payments, cash flow management, marketing and sales. The success of a business is now defined by how best to use these apps to help improve business productivity. So how are apps making businesses and their owners more productive? By:
- Automation - technology that automates processes that have long required human labour to operate. Most simple tasks now can be handled by smart technology.
- Mobility – the creation, storage and use of data from anywhere.
- Connectivity - technology acting as the plumbing between databases thereby centralising and structuring data from various sources.
- Insights - Smart analytics turning data into information then disseminating and reporting the information that is digestible for users in seconds.
Let’s look at some top apps for small business that are helping with productivity across all parts of the operation. These are apps that are helping to automate business processes and which more effectively communicate to internal/external stakeholders, get better insights into your business and customers and of course help you grow!
Cloud technology has been the driving force behind innovation in the accounting space. A business's accounts are the foundations to their financial credibility. If you don’t have solid foundations, your house falls over. The same goes for accounting. That is why cloud accounting platforms are the driving force behind most productivity apps.
Xero is Australia’s fastest growing and most innovative cloud accounting platform. Xero is an app from a team that has pride itself on delivering beautiful accounting software that is user-friendly both to a business owner and also their bookkeeper or accountant. With 70% of SMEs still relying on their accountant for advice and direction, Xero has created an app that helps streamline and strengthen the advisor/customer relationship. Furthermore, Xero actively promotes open integration and data sharing with over 500 other apps available on their app-marketplace. Xero reported that of 600,000+ businesses using their software, those that used apps on the marketplace grew 30% faster than those who didn’t.
One of the biggest challenges and inefficiencies in a business is manual data input. Especially when it comes to bookkeeping. Fortunately automation technology that scans, uploads and structures paperwork is removing mundane, time consuming and expensive data input leaving the user to focus on more important tasks.
Receipt Bank is a market-leader in the small and medium business space that has automated much of this process and is making life easier for businesses and bookkeepers alike. Seamlessly connecting to your cloud accounting platform, piles of paper now are stored in a structured manner within a few clicks. You can read more about Receipt Bank and their automation technology here.
Banking & Payments
Managing transactions and payments efficiently has a huge impact on a business's cash flow and on the people involved. Banking and payments have long been an antiquated, labour intensive processes due to the lack of technological innovation of the sluggish Australian banking system. But now there is a wave of financial technology stimulating innovation in the financial services space which are making financial services more customer outcome focussed.
One exciting fintech business that is leading the charge in banking and payments is Tyro and their new Smart Account. The Tyro banking app enables a business owner to open a bank account seamlessly and manage payment processing and reconciliation all from the palm of their hand. Integrated with Xero, you can reconcile and make batch payments at the click of a button as opposed to battling with old banking spreadsheets. Furthermore, Tyro doesn’t charge any account-keeping fees, transaction fees, overdraft fees or statement fees! A true technology business delivering business productivity at a fair price!
Cash Flow Management
Over 50% of SMEs still fail due to poor cash flow management. Conceptually a simple process of managing the balance of money in and out of the business, cash flow is often managed reactively using manual tools like Excel or overly sophisticated software. How do you keep a finger on the pulse and monitor the health of your business cash flow?
Skippr is a financial technology business that lives and breathes cash flow. We set out to revolutionise how a business owner or their trusted advisor manages cash flow but most importantly we aim to give them peace of mind. Cash flow management should be proactive and a simple process. Our app helps a user diagnose cash flow health in minutes and craft the best course of action using easy-to-use visual dashboards.
Sales & Marketing
There is no point of having good internal processes, if you do not have effective external processes to market and sell your product or service. Cloud technology has revolutionised how a customer purchases goods or service but more importantly how a business triggers awareness, conversion and retention of their target market customer.
Hubspot is one app that is redefining how businesses market and sell to their clients and encompasses multiple marketing channels in one. Social media, blogs, online advertising, email marketing, website hosting, landing pages and workflow automation all come together on one platform. If it sounds daunting to have all those marketing and sales functions on one platform, users can join the Hubspot academy to learn about marketing and sales best practice and how this fantastic app that is tailored to source the right clients and convert and retain them using content marketing best practice and automation.
According to App Annie, the app economy could double in size to $101bn by 2020 as smartphone adoption continues to redefine how consumers and businesses use data. These are just 5 apps that are leading the charge in their space to help make businesses more productive.
What are some other great apps that are making your business life easier?