The business world has a lot to thank mobile apps for

The most hazardous place to make a decision is within the office. Well, that’s according to Ulrik Nehammer, general manager of the giant Coca-Cola corporation. His comment reflects his mobile mind-set: he conducts much of his day to day work from the comfort of his smartphone, according to this Forbes article. He isn’t alone in this practice either. Today, there are mobile apps for almost every imaginable function we carry out -- in addition to less useful mobile apps like Electric Shaver and Pointless Game. A Forbes survey even found that 9/10 of the 511 US-based executives asked use a smartphone to carry out business, and 1/10 use their smartphone exclusively for running their business. True, South Africa might be behind the States when it comes to smartphone use, but it’s only a matter of time before we catch up.

Apps are supplanting filing cabinets, computers and even colleagues

So why are mobile apps threatening to replace the resolute work environment when it comes to running businesses? Well, most mobile apps are free, or come at a very small cost. Mobile apps appear all in the same place -- your mobile phone -- and they can do things we couldn’t do before. And it’s all thanks to the internet. Without cloud computing this new mobile life just wouldn’t work. Take Dropbox, for instance, which has already started replacing the crowded filing cabinets once a spine in any work space. The app has removed the need for paper, made it easier to find files and precludes the need to be in the same physical location as your files. With Skype you no longer need to be in the same room as colleagues or clients; Evernote means you don’t need to carry a paper and pen; iCal and Google Docs have replaced the need for a desktop computer.

All manner of small businesses can be managed with only the help of a phone

This all sounds well and good, but what if you’re not an executive running multi-billion rand businesses? Can you still run a one-man-band from a smartphone using mobile apps? Definitely. A car service, taxi business or tour guide business can all be started and run from a smartphone. Calendar, phone, messaging and map apps can all be used to assist the day-to-day running of the business. You can even use an app like FreshBooks to keep track of your ingoings and outgoings. When it comes to getting paid, there are apps for that too. WeChat is a messaging platform that now includes a mobile wallet feature so you can send and receive money on the go.

Mobile POS apps are changing the trading game

Besides mobile wallets, it’s possible to get payments on the go using a mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) app. The app effectively turns your smartphone into a mobile credit card machine. The phone connects to a secure external card reader via Bluetooth, and the payment is sent over a 3G connection to be processed. Mobile payments give small business owners flexibility, allowing them to offer improved customer service and attract extra customers, and get paid instantly. Mobile payment apps are generally more reasonably priced than traditional POS systems and are quick to set up too.

It’s not just the taxi drivers and tour guides of this world that can benefit from a mobile payments app. Doctors, counsellors, chiropractors, beauticians, hairdressers, personal trainers, market vendors, pop-up shops, bars, artisans and many more are just a few examples of freelancers or small companies that can benefit from the convenience and simplicity of transacting through their phone.