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13 apps every businessperson should know
[November 26, 2012]

13 apps every businessperson should know

Nov 26, 2012 (Las Vegas Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Las Vegas is beginning to find its footing as a tech hub.

The valley ranked seventh in a recent study of high-tech office markets, and the local tech workforce was the second-fastest growing in the country last year, according to a study by commercial realty brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle. It ballooned by 23 percent.

Much of the city's success can be attributed to local entrepreneurs building tech companies and developing new products, many of which are making their way to computers and smartphones.

Most everybody has a smart device these days, and the thousands of apps that are developed annually make life easier. That's particularly true for busy multitasking business owners and executives.

Here's a look at 13 apps -- some being developed in Las Vegas, all being used here -- that can help streamline workers' lives: -- CardMunch Available for iPhone Cost: Free for LinkedIn members Even in an electronic age, people like to hand out business cards. CardMunch keeps the cards from piling up on your desk and saves people's contact information to your phone.

Take a picture of a business card and CardMunch forwards it to people who transcribe the information. The copying isn't automated -- actual humans do it -- so accuracy is high.

Users can keep the information in the CardMunch app or import it to an iPhone contact list. Because the service is run by LinkedIn, users also can easily add contacts to their professional network.

"I used to have a stack of business cards on my desk that I rarely used," said Kaley Briesmaster, a Kirvin Doak Communications account executive. "With CardMunch, I can instantly connect with new contacts on LinkedIn, and I always have their business card stored in my phone. The app has made networking much more efficient and effective for me." -- Square Available for iPhone, iPad, Android Cost: Free to download, cost varies by use Square gives small business owners and mobile operators an easy way to accept noncash payments.

A small, plastic square reader plugs into the headphone jack of a smartphone or tablet and reads credit or debit cards that are swiped through it.

Square charges users 2.75 percent of each purchase swiped or a flat fee of $270 a month. The reader is free.

Square also offers Square Wallet, a service that allows customers to make mobile payments using their phones instead of credit cards. Customers download the app and set up an account. To buy an item, they tap a "pay here" button, then scan a QR code, similar to a bar code. A digital receipt instantly appears, and Square Wallet is linked to customers' financial accounts so balances never have to be reloaded.

Starbucks is among the growing number of companies that accept Square Wallet payments.

Square says it has more than 2 million users.

-- HP 12C Financial Calculator Available for iPhone, iPod Touch Cost: $14.99 This calculator app has the same layout and 120-plus functions as its mechanical predecessor, the HP 12C Financial Calculator. Both were developed by Hewlett-Packard Co.

Horizontal mode shows the full calculator, while vertical mode provides a more basic calculator. Users can click the HP logo to list a reference page of common calculations. That information traditionally appeared on the back of the calculator.

"For my business, I crunch numbers all day," said David Thorson, vice president and treasurer of Nevada Trust Co. "This app is a faithful replication of my favorite calculator. It's great to be able to get answers fast with the same algorithms and keystrokes I have used for decades." -- Evernote Available for smart phones, tablets, computers Cost: Free Evernote captures and saves notes, documents, audio recordings and photographs for future use by any device. Users can tag items for easy searching, and Evernote saves all data to a server so it is accessible across platforms.

The app features a simple interface with a home page that centers around a virtual filing cabinet with electronic file folders.

Evernote can record spoken notes and has a GPS function that automatically saves the location a note was taken. The program has a matrix for easily copying documents, and its photo saver can be used to take notes and keep up with PowerPoint presentations.

Evernote's Web Clipper, a browser add-on, allows users to save webpages to their notes.

-- mbPointer Available for iPhone, iPad Cost: $2.99 Turn your smart phone into a PowerPoint slide show remote.

The mbPointer app uses computer software and a Wi-Fi connection to allow users to navigate presentations. Buttons on the phone's screen make jumping from slide to slide easy.

The PowerPoint cursor also can be moved by twisting or tilting the phone, and slides can be easily changed with text features.

-- TripIt Available for smart phones, tablets, computers Cost: Free TripIt aims to make traveling easier. The app, owned by expense-management software company Concur Technologies, organizes flight, hotel and rental car information into one online itinerary.

Users send their email travel confirmations to TripIt, which bundles them together in a sequential master itinerary. The app also provides driving directions, maps, flight status checks, flight check-ins and weather updates. Users can even use it to book restaurant reservations or other activities.

"It is a must have for anyone who travels," said David Langford, vice president of technology for Smart City Networks. "All of your pertinent travel information is right at your fingertips, all in one spot easily accessible on your smart phone. It even offers additional information, like local weather forecasts and maps corresponding to your itinerary, to make traveling easier.

-- JotNot Available for iPhone, iPad Cost: Free JotNot, a suite of products from developer MobiTech 3000, aims to eliminate clutter for people on the go.

The JotNot Scanner is a portable scanner, as its name implies. It converts paperwork, receipts, business cards and other notes into PDFs. The app automatically removes shadows and corrects contrasts, making documents look crisp and clear.

JotNot Fax lets users send PDFs to any U.S. or Canadian fax number.

JotNot Signature allows people to sign PDF documents from an iPhone or iPad. The signed documents can be password-protected for emailing or sharing.

While the scanner and fax apps are free, JotNot Signature costs $5.

"This can be very helpful on the fly," said Monty Lapica, founder of Coloma Ventures, a local firm that matches tech startups with investors.

-- Expensify Available for iPhone, iPad Cost: Free Expensify automates the expense reporting process.

The app syncs with credit cards and bank accounts to track purchases as they happen. Users can scan and upload receipts by snapping photos of them and submit expense reports electronically. Mileage can be inputted electronically via GPS or odometer.

Developers say Expensify, which gained 1 million users in four years, processes more than $2 million in expenses daily.

-- Intro Available for iPhone, iPad, Android Cost: Free Intro helps businesses grow by connecting people.

Using information from users' LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts, the app creates customized, ranked listings of people to meet. It shows where users' social networks overlap, such as having shared contacts or similar educational backgrounds, and allows members to contact one another through the app's network.

Thomas Knoll, a Las Vegas entrepreneur who used to work for Zappos, said Intro allows him to stay on top of connections that could lead to new hires or business deals.

"There is a ton of value in discovering the connections all around me," Knoll said.

-- iReferDR Available for iPhone, iPad, Android, tablets Cost: Free for generic version, customized version costs $7,500 iReferDR is a customizable app for healthcare organizations. Companies can build personalized programs with branding, location, worker profiles, patient information, call buttons and links. A patient referral feature allows doctors to make referrals quickly and easily.

Nationally, more than 200 million doctors and health care providers use mobile apps.

"The use of a tablet or iPad among doctors in the United States is currently 62 percent, almost double from 2011," said Karen Rubel, vice president for development at Nathan Adelson Hospice, which used iReferDR to develop a customized app. "Our healthcare system has benefited greatly from advances in communications technology, and smart phones and tablets are changing the way health care professionals communicate. iReferDR allows companies to embrace these advances in technology." -- Forte Specialty Contractors app Custom, for internal use Not available to the public Forte Specialty Contractors is among the Las Vegas companies developing their own custom apps.

Forte's program will allow construction workers to report work hours from the field. Traditionally, workers logged their hours on paper, then Forte spent additional time and money having staff re-enter the data into office computers.

The new app will work with any smart phone, computer or tablet.

"We will be able to tell what job every one of our workers is at, what task they are working on and whether they are clocked in or out," Forte Co-owner and President Scott Acton said. "This is seamlessly entered into our accounting software and can be tracked by management in real time." -- Facebook Pages Manager Available for iPhone, iPad Cost: Free Pages Manager helps people quickly access and manage Facebook pages remotely.

Users can post updates -- text or photo -- and interact with subscribers through comments or private messages. Push notifications alert users to new activity, and the app supports Page Insights and analytics. Business owners also can create Facebook Offers using the app.

For many small businesses, Facebook pages have replaced company websites.

"Facebook is an integral part of my social media marketing, and this app helps me manage my page effectively," said Michele Rothstein, president of Balloons With A Twist. "I get notifications about new activity on my page right away. On some days, I'm overseeing several events. Because of the instant notification feature through Facebook Pages Manager, I have been able to help out clients at the last minute or attend an event I might not have known about." -- Awesome Note Available for iPhone, iPad Cost: $3.99 Awesome Note is another personal organization app for creating notes and lists. Customers can use it for memos, diaries, to-do lists, shopping lists, travel journals or ongoing projects.

Users can customize its look and choose personalized colors, background images, fonts and icons.

"Professionally, I use it to take notes in meetings and to keep and update my to-do list," said Debra Alexandre, president of the Nevada State Development Corp. "I am able to set up files to hold information such as office maintenance records, inventory, room measurements, goals, books and articles to read and favorite websites. Because all of those files are with me wherever I go, it allows me to access them when I am in a store or at a meeting. It even syncs my to-do list with my Outlook calendar." "Personally, I use it to store music I hear and may want to buy, gift lists, my travel diary, room measurements in my home, household information such as filter sizes and miscellaneous useful information," Alexandre added. "It is easily the app I use the most." ___ (c)2012 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.) Visit the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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