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How Appy are You?

How Appy are You?
20 March 2014 John Moore

A seismic shift is taking place in the mobile app world, but are you part of it? Today, you can have an app for just about anything you would like from managing business meetings to finding a date and from how to train your dog to communicating with your remote sales team.

A research survey carried out by the US-based Pew Research Center found that half of adult mobile phone owners in the States had apps on their phones. Add that to the research conducted by consumer research agency Nielsen which found that 62% of cell phone owners aged 25 – 34 own smart phones and you can start to see that if you are not in the app game, you might just be missing out on something.

The question for me, is which apps do I want or need? I have spent too much time looking at different apps as the choice is overwhelming. So, just like I do with other problems I have, I turned to my network to ask them which apps they use and rate. All too often, we do not ask for help because we feel embarrassed that we do not know – for me this is especially true when it comes to technology.

Whilst I am not a technology dinosaur, I am not by any means an early adopter. Technology for me is not a ‘geeky’ thing that gets me excited – it is a tool that can help make my life just a little easier (except when I cannot get it to work!). For me, a great app, is one that can lighten my load and make me just a little ‘appier’.

My advice is do not be afraid to ask for help. Whether the help is from your children who often zip around the technology world like Usain Bolt or whether it is from a colleague, a technology specialist or a member of your team, JUST ASK FOR IT.

So what are the most popular and useful apps in my humble opinion?

Workflowy is an online tool and app that allows you to better organise yourself, by mimicking the way you think by making a list of high level ideas and tasks and then breaking them into smaller pieces. For example, you could start with two broad categories such as Personal and Work and then create sub-lists. Under Work, you could create sub-lists such as planning the launch of the new Exponential online course, Meeting Stakeholder Needs; or contributing to our blog ‘In the Loop’; or working on our latest European project LEXSHA. You can subdivide lists like this almost infinitely. With the daily possibility that you will get nothing done because you have so much to do (and you cannot find the envelope that you wrote your last to do list on), Workflowy is an ideal brain-clutter buster.

Doodle is a scheduling solution that can free you from the tedious email threads that clutter up your inbox with eight different people discussing their availability for a meeting. You can simply, identify a few potential dates and times for the meeting you are trying to schedule, and ask everyone who needs to be there to identify all the times that could work for them (not just their preferred windows). Doodle makes it easy to spot the time slot that works for all of them, or as many as possible. I find it works better if I offer people a choice of say, 1-2 pm, 2-3 pm or 3-4 pm rather than just asking them for their availability during 1-4 pm as a single time slot. Doodle means you can offer at least four options, on at least two different days – what a time saver this can be for everyone.

With the proliferation of online content – blogs, Twitter stream, cat videos from your friends – it can be hard to find articles that are actually relevant. This is where Zite (a play on “Zeitgeist”) can help. Zite is an app that gets smarter as you use it, creating a personally-curated online magazine. Using an algorithm that evaluates the popularity of articles in the blogosphere – by the way, I really do not understand what I have just written, but it is okay because I do not need to – , your own online activities (such as the type of links you share on Twitter), and your own “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” ratings, Zite tailors its offerings to your preferences. Even better, it’s easy to share articles straight from the app, completing the virtuous circle of ‘buzz – (whatever that means!)’

Some of my network contacts say they do not know what they would do without HootSuite. It’s a social media “dashboard” that allows you to monitor and post to all your networks simultaneously. As a blogger, this is a huge time saver. When my colleague James has written something new, or read something he wants to share on his networks, he can let everyone know with a single entry, rather than having to log on to each network separately. I understand that HootSuite can be used to manage Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, as well as with Tumblr, WordPress, and Foursquare – if you know what they are!

If you use multiple computers, work on several projects, and/or have multiple colleagues — if, in short, you’re a modern knowledge worker — you need Dropbox. Dropbox is a cloud-based storage utility. Understand? No? In lay terms that I understand, Dropbox, puts your files and projects on every computer you own, in a normal folder, and synchronizes them in the background without you having to lift a finger. It also lets you share different folders with collaborators so you all have access. How many times have you tried to send a file via email, only to have some server reject it because it was too big? Just create a Dropbox folder, invite the recipient(s) to share it, and your problems are past tense. If Dropbox ever goes away, I might be put off using computers altogether.

Had enough yet? No? Then why not download: Top Apps for Business Leaders in 2014.

If you know of any other useful Apps which I have missed then share them by commenting below!

‘Appy apping!

John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.


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