Loads of Apple fanboys are touting the iPad’s capability, with one marketer taking on the challenge of only using his iPad to do his job for 30 days. But can you run a business that employs several people entirely from an iPad?
The answer is yes, there’s an app for that. Or a suite of apps, rather – nobody has designed a “Small Business Management” app yet, and we don’t expect to see an iPad capable of handling one very soon. However, for most important functions, there is a ready-made solution:
Document management and collaboration – Google Docs
There’s a free Google Docs app, and it does everything a $15,000 server and network can do, only a little slower and less pretty. You and your employees (or selected employees) can access and collaboratively edit as many documents as you please, without it costing you much at all (aside from Google Apps for Business licenses).
Financial management – Mint
Mint is a personal finance app – the best in its class. But it can also be easily used by a small business, as long as you only have a few bank accounts. Simply feed it your bank account numbers and you can use it to keep track of all of your finances, and get a snapshot of your financial health at any time. The best part is, multiple people can log in using the same info.
Project Management – Outpost 2 (BaseCamp for iPad)
BaseCamp is a popular online project management tool that is simple to set up and use, and doesn’t require you to have a degree in Project Management and a PRINCE2 certification to manage. If your business employs more than three people, you’re going to need a way to plan projects and track progress, and Outpost 2 for iPad does this excellently.
Remote Desktop Access – Wyse Pocket Cloud
The major limitation when trying to run a business on your iPad is going to be processing power. This problem is entirely solved by this app, which lets you log in to your virtual desktop environment (provided you have one) anywhere in the world. It’s a little data-heavy, so don’t expect to do it on your 3G very easily.
Conference Calling – Skype
While the iPad does have FaceTime, which lets you make video calls to other iPad users, that doesn’t help much for video conferences. The newly approved Skype app for iPad lets you make low-bandwidth calls to other Skype users, and the Skype Out feature (which lets you call mobiles and landlines) is perfect for keeping your call costs low and joining conference calls.