By adding new applications, such as GPS and location-based services, businesses can now distribute BlackBerrys to staff and locate and dispatch workers, manage work orders, process electronic time sheets, and monitor assets.
Suffice it to say, the BlackBerry has become an indispensable tool for millions of small and mid-size businesses, largely in part to its reliable push-mail solution that delivers messages to your phone as soon as they arrive in an inbox.
But in order to maintain its competitive edge, the Waterloo, Ontario-based Research in Motion understands it needs to open up its doors to third-party applications to help businesses remain productive while on the go.
“There has been phenomenal growth in applications available for the BlackBerry platform,” confirms Tyler Lessard, director of independent software vendor alliances at Research in Motion. “We are signing new partners every day and being approached constantly by people who are looking for ways to increase the mobile capabilities of their applications using the BlackBerry solution.”
The following are a few recommended applications that can help you and your employees stay in touch, keep organized and remain competitive, wherever business takes you. Be sure to check with your cell carrier for availability and pricing.
Rather than purchase a separate GPS unit to help you navigate from point A to B without getting lost, or finding relevant location-based info, a GPS-enabled BlackBerry lets you have it all on one device. Small and mid-size businesses "especially benefit from services like TeleNav because they save on travel time and they reduce the need for road warriors to call in for guidance,” says Carmi Levy, senior vice president for strategic consulting at AR Communications, a Toronto-based marketing communications firm. “[Employees] work more independently, consuming less office time and spending more time in front of customers.”
eOffice lets you easily access and manage all your documents, wherever and whenever -- all stored remotely on your office PC, through a password-protected virtual hard disk on the Internet. As if it were stored locally on the smartphone, you can now retrieve, review, edit, and save documents -- such as Microsoft Word or Excel files. “Attachments are an increasingly frequent reality for anyone who sends and receives e-mail, and although the basic BlackBerry OS allows Office files to be viewed, the experience is severely limited,” says Levy. “DynoPlex’s eOffice is often good enough that users can leave their laptops at home and travel lighter on business trips.”
This voicemail-to-text service can save you time because there’s no need to dial in to pick up your voice mail. Instead, an accurate transcript of the voicemail message is text messaged to you automatically so you can simply read the message on your BlackBerry. After all, you might be in a meeting and unable to answer that important call from a client, your boss, or a member of your staff. Well, now you can discretely glance at a text message which has the content of the voicemail message on your phone.
Consider it an alternative to using your thumbs to type your way through all of your BlackBerry’s functions -- such as making calls, drafting an e-mail or adding a calendar entry -- as you can use the power of your voice to take command. Your spoken words are transcribed into text for, say, an e-mail message, or you can choose to send your voice clip as an e-mail attachment. “Voice-activated control and navigation can remove the last barrier to on-the-road productivity -- the tiny keyboard -- from potential objections to wider mobile deployment,” explains Levy.
This all-in-one instant messaging (IM) client supports a broad range of services, including AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk, ICQ, and Jabber. For small and mid-size businesses with mobile employees that need to routinely interact with the home office in real-time, "the presence awareness offered by an always-on IM client can be a compelling driver of productivity,” says Levy. “Road warriors can get answers to their questions more quickly, which allows them to spend more time servicing customers and less time waiting around.”
Other BlackBerry applications to check out:
“We find that organizations are interested in applications that access [small business] CRM and accounting packages such as Goldmine, ACT, and Quicken,” says RIM’s Lessard.
Impatica Showmate allows mobile professionals to deliver PowerPoint presentations directly from their BlackBerry smartphone.
MobiMate’s Worldmate Live and Handmark’s PocketExpress can greatly enhance personal productivity and efficiency while traveling with tools that include flight status updates, rental car information, and world weather.
Virtual Reach's Viigo is an RSS reader that can track, download, and display critical pieces of regularly updated content, such as news, stock values, and sports.