Technology has often focused on the dour end of utilitarianism when it comes to business tools. For a long time, there was little difference between filling out a paper expense form and doing it on your computer.
But increasingly, productivity and utility tools are becoming more and more about great experiences, whether you want a taxi delivered to your door or a file delivered to your client.
Understandably businesses often take time to catch on to these new tools; it’s not an easy decision to invest time and money in a new service that might not exist in six months’ time.
But if you want your team to work more effectively using engaging utilities, here are six helpful tools that provide utility without the monotony:
Stitch calls itself "mobile email for sales people," but this smart app is useful for anyone who works on the go. You can track your sent emails to know when they’ve been seen and easily attach files from your online storage services, like Hightail or Dropbox. Plus, creating templates helps avoid typing the same messages—like "I’m running late"—again and again.
2. Zen Payroll
Accountancy is built on double-entry bookkeeping, so it’s not surprising that more efficient ideas take time to catch on. Zen Payroll is delightful with its secure automated payroll software that integrates with commonly used bookkeeping software. Best of all, employees can easily access their own paystubs and other information.
Everyone knows that conference calls are rarely smooth, and sometimes you need a more casual way to chat with remote colleagues. Perch makes video conversations simple. At Hightail, the design team has always-on iPads on the walls of two offices. All you have to do is ping the person you want to talk to, stand in front of the iPad, and start chatting.
When I asked my colleagues about their favorite utility tools, Trello turned out to be a big hit. One person even used it to organize her wedding. Trello makes clever use of columns and cards to provide a beautiful visual overview of all ongoing projects, while each individual project gathers all comments, files, and activities in one easy-to-follow thread.
I’m a big Keynote fan, so alternative presentation software has to work hard to impress me. Like Keynote, Bunkr is great at helping you create rich, interactive presentations. But it also offers much more, like the Bunkr bookmark that lets you collect information, images, and videos for future decks. Best of all, it makes it really easy to work online with others.
I mentioned submitting digital expense reports before and how there was little difference to filling out a paper form. Well, in some cases—I speak from bitter experience but I’m not naming names—it’s actually worse than filling out a paper form. Abacus promises to change all this with its beautiful real-time system that’s "expenses without the expense report."
—Matte Scheinker is Chief Product Officer at Hightail.
[Image: Flickr user Style: Raw]