Web applications for business have come a long way. They used to be poor imitations of their desktop counterparts, with only one or two functions and not at all practical. But my, have these apps grown. Today’s SaaS business and CRM apps have become so powerful and useful that in many cases, they’ve begun to replace traditional desktop software such as Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP, etc.
Desktop apps are great and all, but they don’t provide the same benefits as business apps that make use of cloud computing. With most SaaS apps, you only need a browser and an internet connection to access all your data online. That beats having to install annoying programs any day and gives you much more flexibility when working in teams. Cloud business apps have the added advantage of integrating with each other, so you can hook all your systems together.
To give you a better sense of how useful web apps have become, I’ve compiled a list of 15 of the best business apps and CRM tools that can replace some of the desktop business software you use. I hope you take the time to try them all out. You’ll be surprised how well they work.
Without further ado, here are some great web alternatives to the popular desktop business applications.
For most people, internet suffixes are not something that are given a great deal of thought, but they are part of life online. Wherever you are in the world, you can visit google.com to access the global page for the search engine, but there are numerous international variants available as well — google.co.uk for the UK, google.fr for France, google.cn for China. You probably don’t consider the existence of many suffixes or TLDs (top level domains) beyond a familiar handful.
Wherever you are in the world, .com is universally recognized, but each country has its own version as well. These are the addresses that most companies and individuals want to bag for their site — they are the ones that matter. Of course there are numerous other familiar TLDs: .org for charities and non-profit organizations, .gov for official governmental sites, but this is far from being the end of the story.
Passwords dominate our lives these days; they are part and parcel of spending time online. There are now so many applications, service, devices and websites that require us to log into our secure account using a password that the sheer number of passphrases we have to remember has spiralled completely out of control.
For the best level of security it’s advisable to use a completely different password for each website and service — just off the top of my head I can think of 20 websites that I need to log into (there are probably at least double if I were to sit down and list everything properly); how the heck am I supposed to remember 20 completely unique passwords, each of which comprises a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Oh, and don’t forget… you’re meant to change these passwords every few weeks!
In the past couple of years, cloud storage has become more and more popular with people. There are so many different options to choose from: Dropbox, Bitcasa, Box, Google Drive and so on. One of the many advantages of cloud storage is that you can easily share a document with someone else. For example, if I create a document and put it into Dropbox, it is very easy for me to share a link with someone. I don’t have to type out an email and attach the document to it. That process, although easy, can be cumbersome and has some definite downfalls.
Now days, with so many people using cloud services, you almost expect most people that you share documents with to be using them. The problem though, is that there are so many different services to choose from and not only that, but what if you are sharing documents back and forth with someone who isn’t using a cloud service you are using?
Let’s say, for example, that you are using Dropbox, but the person you are wanting to share files back and forth with doesn’t use a cloud sharing service. That can definitely be a pain for you and the other person. That’s why today I am going to be reviewing a web application that will let anyone upload documents to your cloud service, whether they are using it or not. Let’s take a look at EntourageBox and see how the cloud can make you collaborative.
One of the great things that the web has brought us is the ability to find and create content for people to read. With blog services, magazine curation, and other social media apps, the web has given the average person the ability to create something of quality, using just the web. Before, you had to work for a company that would provide you with the tools to create good quality on the web or really know how to use the web tools, whereas now, just about anyone can do this.
Take for example Flipboard, who has come on to become a solid application for both reading and now curating content for others. When they first started out, they came onto the scene with a solid iPad app to consume your RSS feeds and other news that you wanted to know about. Slowly over time, they opened up a new side of their business by not only letting the average user consume content, but gave them the ability to curate it as well.
Now, they have opened this up even further to expand to the web, which has now created an application that can be used by many more people. Let’s take a look at Flipboard for the Web and see how this can be used in a variety of different ways.
As I may have mentioned before, one of the great things about the web is the fact that it gives you the opportunity to connect with people from many different places. No longer do you and a coworker have to be in the same room, looking at the same screen in order to discuss a project. The web has made it so that distance knows no boundaries for two or more people to connect or work together. It still blows my mind that there are developers out there that create apps and they haven’t even met face to face. But yet, they are able to crank out amazing apps by being able to communicate and collaborate through the web.
One of those apps that can help people connect and work together is one called Kollaborate and it does exactly what the name says. It is a web tool to help people collaborate with each other in real time, so that they can work together. I had the chance to take it for a spin and I was intrigued by its possibilities.
Outside of reading numerous different tech blogs on a daily basis, I keep up with my technology news through podcasts. There are a lot of great tech podcasters out there that not only keep you up to date on the latest and greatest, but also offer a huge amount of insight into the tech world. Most of the time, I use my iPhone to store and play them in my car or while I am out and about.
But, I don’t always want to use my iPhone to play podcasts, especially when I am at my desk working on my computer. Yes, I could use iTunes and just play them through it, but today I am going to talk about another alternative. I came across Podcast Gallery about a week ago and it is a web based app where I can find and play a variety of podcasts. It actually is a pretty nifty alternative for those of you that are looking for something that is on the web. Let’s take a more in depth look at it.
Well look at that! Just after announcing it would discontinue Reader, Google has decided to release a simple note-taking service, one with the name Keep. When I first heard about it, I thought the service was aiming to compete with Pocket and Instapaper to be an official Google project that allowed you to save anything for viewing later. Something like this would have been fantastic after seeing Reader leave, but that wasn’t Google’s aim for this basic notes service.
When I say basic, I mean it, but there might be more to this little Web and Android app than meets the eye, and the mere icon invites creativity. I investigate after the break. (more…)