iPhone Apps for Business: Salesforce, SplashMoney, Quickbooks

By Elizabeth Millard  |  Posted 2008-09-02

Numerous iPhone aficionados have gotten addicted to Google, much as they have when surfing from their desktops and laptops. The mobile search app works well on the iPhone thanks to its spare interface, and users can toggle through features like maps and image searches.

In January, the Google mobile team did a nice revamp of some features, as well, putting in customization of tabs, improved Gmail functionality, and a better calendar.

Oracle Business Indicators
The first of what's promised to be a number of Oracle apps for the iPhone, Business Indicators lets users access a range of business reports such as customer satisfaction surveys or financial trends.

Oracle plans to follow this initial release with support for ERP business approval processes with rich analytical context, according to the company. For example, when traveling to a meeting, an executive can get out the iPhone (not while driving, please) and review pending approvals for expense reports, with supporting analytics.

The app is a free download from Apple's App Store, but users must have a license for Oracle's BI software.

A simple application, ReaddleDocs allows a user to email online text to the phone, so it can be read later, which is particularly useful in locations where service might be spotty, such as during a train commute.

The app can be purchased directly from iTunes, and has a built-in viewer that supports multiple document formats, and for those it doesn't include -- such as OmniGraffle or MS Visio -- a user can convert them into PDF. Email attachments can also be stored, by forwarding the message to ReaddleDocs.

"Instead of having to sit at my desk and read docs for work, I can forward them to Readdle and open them on my iPhone, to read them on my commute home or at Starbucks," says Robb Hecht, Digital Managing Director at Universal McCann in New York. "From PDFs to Powerpoint to Word, ReaddleDocs is awesome."

Being able to access data from a CRM application while on the road is a major advantage for any mobile worker, and now iPhone users won't be left out.

Salesforce.com users are able to display all the usual type of CRM goodies on their iPhone, such as customer accounts, sales trends, and contact lists.

The mobile application also gives access to custom-built apps stored at Force.com, which lets companies create their own software for user groups within their organization and then run them on the Force.com platform.

Some users in the blogosphere have complained about the app's read-only capability, but in its July update blog, Salesforce noted that they're working on a version that will allow for input, as well as better integration with the iPhone browser capabilities.

Splash Money
Another app deemed "awesome" by user Nick Gebhardt, a sales representative at AT&T Wireless is Splash Money, which has consumer usage as a money management tool, but can also be enterprise ready.

Gebhardt notes that the application can manage daily expenses well, and that the wireless sync capability is notable.

The app, already popular in its Blackberry version, can connect online to a bank, but can also create budgets, then track and analyze spending with customizable reports and charts. Since it does continual tracking, it takes some of the detail work out of expense management, and the accounting department is going to love that little chart.

Intuit's flagship program is a business staple, so refashioning it for the iPhone should make plenty of users happy. Not only is there access to vendor and customer lists, bank account balances, profit and loss reports, and accounting info, but also, the QuickBooks Online contact info will work with the phone. 

Many users of the QuickBooks app have gravitated toward QuickBooks Online, and some appreciate the simplicity of now accessing the software from the iPhone. For example, at the Gadgetopia blog, one user noted: "I know app on your phone are nothing new, but the iPhone's screen size and built-in usability has enabled a lot better apps."

Gebhardt also appreciates this app greatly, since it allows for native synchronization with public PIM and calendaring services, including Google Calendar. There's no need to install software on the iPhone, either, since it uses synchronization protocols that are already built in.

"This is a must have," says Gebhardt. "Plus, it's free!"

On NuevaSync's site, one of the FAQs is: "How are you guys going to make money?" To that, the admins answer that they're not certain, but it could involve introducing some form of premium paid service in the future, but assure users that there will always be a free service.

A Web-based app that can be accessed over other mobile devices, as well as Macs and PCs, HyperOffice includes a number of tools, such as forums, chat, polls, and an intranet/extranet publisher.

But Pankaj Taneja, a business development executive, chooses it for its ability to synch corporate information, and believes it's better than both Exchange ActiveSync and MobileMe.

"You can access, synch, and share your personal and corporate info like mail, calendars, and tasks on your iPhone," he says.

Taneja also likes the ability to view and collaborate on documents from the iPhone, which he feels is unique to HyperOffice.

There are several applications that let users get RSS feeds streamed to the iPhone, but Jeremy Schell, Director of Interactive Media at PriceWeber, has a special place in his heart for this one.

"During various downtimes, like in my car or between meetings, I can easily and quickly get up to speed rapidly," he says.

For those on the technology management side of life, this app is ideal for putting control of Windows servers onto the iPhone, Schell says.

"This is a great RDP client with the zoom and pan aspects of Safari," he notes. "It's well worth the $13 to any person managing these servers." The only drawback, he adds, is that it doesn't have right-mouse-click capability.