CIO Symmetry

Feb 3 2011   7:35PM GMT

Is there an iPhone business app for that?

Christina Torode Christina Torode Profile: Christina Torode

I’ve had an iPhone 4 for a few months now and I haven’t even begun to tap all the things I can do, and I’m nowhere near taking advantage of all the iPhone business apps.

I know this because the salesperson over at the Apple store gave me a funny look when I asked him to check if I had a defective battery. ‘Gee, you haven’t downloaded much. I have 3,000 songs on my iPhone and…hmmm you’re on an older version of the OS. Do you sync your phone up with your computer to get the latest updates? Have you checked out the App store? There are apps that you can use for work too, and you can make your own apps.’

What I’ve discovered so far is songs that I haven’t heard for years, Angry Birds (yes the game is as addictive as everyone says) and that you can scratch your iPhone screen (despite the car key test the Apple store employees show you before you buy one). All it takes is walking away from your phone for a few minutes while a puppy intent on eating your iPhone bumper is in the room.

As for business applications, I have it synced up with my work email account and I downloaded a scanner application to input receipts in my company’s travel and expense system. That’s it. It’s pitiful I know, but I have been checking out other iPhone business apps lately.

If I were a salesperson I could track leads and view invoices, and if I were a sys admin I could remotely update desktops. Actually, there are a lot of useful iPhone apps for IT admins like Rove Virtual Machine Manager and NiceTrace.There’s also apps that let you view financial reports and see how well a marketing campaign is doing.

And in this economy, who couldn’t use a few good networking apps. On the retail side I think it’s pretty cool that credit card transactions can now be swiped on the iPhone, even if I’m switching topics here to hardware advancements.

I know I’m glossing over a lot of other applications, but what I’m looking for is iPhone business apps that appeal to a more general audience, and what is more general than the use of Microsoft Office. I haven’t tried these out yet so this is by no means a plug, but according to their Website, DataViz makes Documents to Go, an application that lets you view and edit word documents and sync mail and documents with your Exchange Server. QuickOffice also has a suite of applications, one of which lets you create and edit Office files on your iPhone.

I’m not the only one on the look out for useful, general purpose mobile business apps. A lot of IT executives are putting mobile application development at the top of their priority list. The consensus at a Society for Information Management panel at the annual SIM conference this past October was that the developer community isn’t making many useful business applications, but instead ones that appeal to younger consumers. And this group of consumers find business applications “boring.”

“We, as enterprise architects of our organizations, have to understand that feature sets are going to be driven by consumer demand, not by what we in the business would like to see,” said panelist Chuck Musciano, vice president and CIO of construction material supplier Martin Marietta Materials Inc., at the time.

If this is true, then it will be up to internal IT departments to come up with ways to connect apps that the business needs to mobile devices, as is the case already at many Midmarket companies.

Let us know what you think about this blog post; email Christina Torode, News Director.

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