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Nancy Powaga
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November 08, 2019

There’s a Workplace App for That

shutterstock_321884942 (1)Ah, the 2000s, the decade that introduced us to TheFacebook.com, the Black Eyed Peas, and trucker hats. It’s also the decade that brought us one of the most impactful inventions in recent memory: the iPhone. But despite the glory of this product, there was one noted downside to the advent of smartphones, namely the phrase, “There’s an app for that!”.

Like so many advertising slogans, the catchphrase, trademarked by Apple in 2009, became so ubiquitous that the mere sound of it sent shivers down the spine of many an advertising-wary human. Want to check tomorrow’s weather? There’s an app for that! Want to remember where you parked? There’s an app for that! And so on. In addition to much ire, the phrase inspired many parodies, including this cute ditty on Sesame Street.

In the past ten years, apps have grown in power and sophistication. You no longer just check the weather on your apps, but you can track your burrito delivery in real-time, stream music from seemingly endless libraries, or meet the love of your life. So while Apple’s original catchphrase remains true, it needs to be amended. Nowadays, there are darn good apps for that, including those that make your job easier.

Workplace applications, or mobile-ready platforms that improve on-the-job processes and workflows, are now being internally deployed by companies of all sizes. Still, you might be skeptical about adding yet another icon to your already-crowded smartphone display or your team’s already busy day. In this post, we’ll explain why you should move forward with workplace apps without looking back, despite what your 2000s-era curmudgeon might be telling you.

Workplace Apps: A Key Element of Digital Transformation

The business world is changing. Companies everywhere are embracing digital transformation and using new technologies to automate manual processes that no longer serve them.

Digital transformation is a massive trend — and one that has been in motion for a long time. This trend is sometimes called the fourth industrial revolution, as it refers to a new era in manufacturing that will be defined by the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning, ultra-fast connectivity, and — of course — apps.

However, embracing digital transformation and benefiting from it are two totally different things. Often, digital transformation can be nebulous and difficult to effectively drive across an enterprise. Businesses can also face resistance from employees who are reluctant to change how they work — which is largely why one in five executives secretly think that digital transformation initiatives are a waste of time.

It turns out that app usage, perhaps unsurprisingly, is now exploding in the workplace. Companies across all verticals — including finance, healthcare, manufacturing, energy, and utilities — are using apps to streamline workflows and increase productivity.

When it comes to app usage, organization size isn’t a determining factor, either. Every organization — from small businesses to large enterprise — can benefit by using them. Companies are using apps to optimize many types of processes, like inventory management, communication and collaboration, scheduling, managing workflows, field service productivity, and everything in between.

How apps can help your business

By now, you understand how more and more businesses are using apps to work more effectively and improve profitability. But you might be wondering about the specifics.

You’re in luck: Up next, we’ll explore five use cases to give you a better idea on how apps can transform your business.

1. Painless data entry

Data collection is highly resource-intensive and risky when it’s performed manually. For example, in manufacturing and utility environments, data is typically recorded onto paper and then transcribed into a spreadsheet. This opens the door for countless errors. Workers might lose these records or they might fudge the numbers during the data transfer process.

Apps, however, enable easy data entry, providing workers with an opportunity to record information using simple drop down menus, photos, and user-friendly forms.

With the right tools in place, data can flow seamlessly from an app into correlating spreadsheets, databases, and supporting programs like customer relationship management systems or inventory control platforms. 

2. Easier process control

In the words of Karl Iagnemma, uniformity is the friend of scalability. Businesses must stay in sync across all departments, teams, and facilities. A manufacturing facility in Munich, for instance, should follow similar policies and procedures as a sister branch in Chicago.

Companies today are using apps to centralize management and information. Thanks to apps, global teams can share information in a way that’s easily accessible over a smartphone or tablet. Essentially, apps can serve as digital blueprints for processes and procedures, enabling consistent and predictable scalability across the enterprise.

3. Improved visibility

It’s not easy managing a team when you have limited visibility into what your workers are doing every day — especially if you are overseeing multiple projects and a distributed workforce.

Apps can provide greater visibility across teams and departments by facilitating real-time communication. With the right app in place, managers can receive hourly or daily status updates, allowing them to make managerial changes based on data. In this light, apps help managers keep their fingers on the pulse of operations every hour of every day.

4. Enhanced productivity

Productivity issues tend to stem from poor communication. For example, the average worker checks email 74 times per day. And as much as 15 percent of a company’s time is spent on meetings, on average. Workers are also less productive when they aren’t clear about what they should be doing.

Apps can lead to major productivity gains in this arena by automating communication during project updates and eliminating unnecessary meetings.

What’s more, thanks to no-code platforms, employees can build their own apps to support their specific workflows. They don’t have to rely on apps built for the run-of-the-mill company; they can use a tool that’s fit for purpose instead.

5. Increased profitability

Inefficient data sharing can lead to major financial losses. For example, in a competitive real estate environment, agents need accurate data to identify deals, close properties, and flip them. Without an effective communications mechanism, it’s impossible to compete in this fast-paced industry.

Apps ultimately put data into workers’ hands faster — meaning companies can move beyond merely collecting data and instead turn their data into actionable insights. As a result, workers are equipped with the information they need to make the best decisions and respond to new opportunities with agility.

These are just a few ways that apps can help your business. In the age of no-code development — where you can build your own app to help make your own job easier — apps can deliver an essentially endless amount of benefits to companies like yours.

To get started, all you need is data. Find out more about how to start making apps with AppSheet.

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