B2B Apps for the iPhone

Yesterday we joked that there is not an iphone app to help with influencer marketing in the B2B space, so that got us thinking about what iphone applications there are for B2B. While the Blackberry is still the smart phone of choice in larger organizations, the iphone is making inroads into corporate America. The number of available business apps is one major component that will help that growth.

1. The Obvious


Twitter Apps: There are a slew of Twitter apps including Tweetie, Twitterific and even Tweetdeck for the iphone. While I am looking forward to the new version of Tweetie, which should be released any day now, there are small differences between these apps. Each one handles things a bit differently, so you just need to find the one that works for you. Many people stick with their first Twitter app, but you can ask others what they use. Ask them what they like about it.

Social Networking Apps: We have already covered the Facebook app in depth, so what about LinkedIn. This app is mainly focused on your connections, rather than bringing the LinkedIn experience to the iphone. It shows you Network updates, connections and status. You can view your profile, but you don’t have the ability to edit it. The only interactive functions are the ability to update your status, send an invite and a limited search function. The social side of LinkedIn – Groups, Answers, Events – are missing from the app. Hopefully a new version of this app is in development with more functionality.

2. The Enterprise and CRM


The biggest enterprise software companies, Oracle and SAP, both offer iphone apps that feature a small window into the data housed on your corporate network. According to this post, Oracle displays business performance reports, analytics and access to their CRM module, while SAP displays contacts and account information. These are primarily viewers and provide limited interaction with the main system, but that is changing. As the iphone becomes more ingrained in the corporate computing world, mobile employees will have the more ability to update the home office from their smart phones. If your company uses either of these enterprise solutions, explore these mobile platforms with trial versions and start talking up the importance of mobile data.

The leading standalone CRM solution, Salesforce.com has an iphone app that connects to your version of Salesforce.com. Create new leads, convert them, log phone calls, all from a native iphone app that syncs with the cloud version. This free app is a must for all mobile employees using Salesforce to track their business. While “Leads” is featured on the bottom navigation menu, selecting “More” brings up contacts, opportunities, tasks, events, cases, solutions, and dashboards to fully manage all functions from the iphone. A free 30 day trial of Salesforce is available, so you can try out the app and see how it syncs to the web.

3. The Marketplace


Many B2B companies around the world use trading sites, like Alibaba.com, to find products, manufacturers, import and export partners. There is an iphone app called World Trade Center, which calls itself a B2B hub with one-click access to top sites, B2B facilitators, and products. It costs $2.99, so I have not downloaded it to see how it works. It does not look very elegant, and may be not much more than the links shown on the front screen. If your business regularly uses sites of this nature, this mobile app may be of value to you. As more people go mobile, this is sure to be a growing category of apps that interact with online trading partners. If you have used this app, or something like it, please let us know below.

4. Resources


And finally, if you are looking for information and ideas about B2B marketing and social media, Marketing Profs has an iphone app with a B2B marketing section under the More menu item. These articles provide summaries of posts on the Marketing Profs site and other sites. While every post includes an upsell to Marketing Profs membership options, this app provides good content that is easily consumed on the go.

And finally, I used this post as an opportunity to add a Word Press plugin called WPTouch, that optimizes this blog for the iphone, and other touch screen smart phones, so you can more easily read SocialMediaB2B.com on your iphone.

So if there are other iphone apps that you have found indispensable in your B2B world, whether to manage Social Media, Marketing, or Business in general, share those with our readers below.

Comments

  1. Iris says

    @ 3. The Marketplace:

    Dear Jeffrey,

    I’m new to your blog (great, thanks!) and was intrigued by the entry above. After not being able to unearth much online background information, neither on the app itself nor on the company selling it, I simply downloaded and tried it. But, as you had guessed, I found it’s just a collection of links:

    – “Trade shows” points to http://www.eventseye.com/fairs/trade-shows.html?z1_trade-shows_asia-pacific.html
    – “Top B2B Links” points to http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/474894/Top_20_B2B_Trade_Websites_2009_edition_.htm
    – “Import Export Help” points to http://www.importexporthelp.com/
    – “Alibaba” points to http://www.alibaba.com
    – “Mellinger B2B Services” points to http://www.tradezone.com/busops.html
    – “EC21″ points to http://www.ec21.com/
    – “Manufacturing” points to http://www.manufacturing.net/
    – “Business Knowledge” points to http://www.enterweb.org/
    – “Bonus Links” points to http://www.alexa.com/topsites/category/Top/Business/International_Business_and_Trade/Import_and_Export/Portals

    None of those pages are mobile-optimized as far as I can see, and I find it tiresome to navigate them or to use the link lists contained, with some links not even being clickable as is true for 37 out of the 38 links provided in “Top B2B Links”. Product searches on the B2B directories included proved to be a frustrating business with this app – if you managed to complete a search at all.

    I have not followed all of the links offered on the pages which the app points to. I saw some useful ones, but actually didn’t feel like digging deeper and deeper into those sites via my phone – and not only because of the battery issue. In my opinion, such reading and research is not necessarily something you’d do on the go, especially as long as content and functionality both of the app and on the pages it directs you to are not adapted to mobile usage. I’d want to read on from a stationary device, preferably if the app allowed me to bookmark and forward interesting findings.

    Also, I find the resources offered a fairly random selection and wonder whom (I mean, whom exactly) the app targets.

    There are other B2B applications which give the user real benefit by focusing on single needs and serving those well, instead of attempting to cover too much ground. For instance, I ran across HKTDC Mobile and liked it, see http://www.hktdc.com/info/vp/a/tech/en/1/2/1/1X06C7F0/HKTDC-Launches-First-IPhone-Applications-For-Br-B2B-Sourcing-And-Trade-Fairs-Br.htm.

    Hope to read more about this topic soon!

    -Iris

  2. Jeffrey L. Cohen says

    Iris: Thanks for spending the big bucks and purchasing what turned out to be a disappointing iphone app. We really appreciate the detail on the links and on the various sections of the app. We will keep our eyes out for other mobile apps that help B2B organizations do their jobs.

  3. says

    Jeffrey,
    Hoover’s has a new application, Hoover’s Near Here, that helps the road warrior sales person find prospects near them. It is a very targeted B2B app, but incredibly useful if you fit the target customer. The App Store also has a “Business Class” apps page in Quick Links that calls out some of the larger brand business applications available on the App Store.

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