These days a good business suite is as much about useful apps and software as it is about high powered hardware. Make the most of the latest trends in technology with these must-have devices and apps for business professionals.
1. A business tablet
While tablets have a reputation as lightweight devices more suited for entertainment consumption, business-focussed productivity tablets have been gaining ground over the last couple of years. Overall, good business tablets are lighter in weight, come with great battery life and can usually share a charger with your smartphone, making them ideal for the road warrior, mobile worker or anyone who is on their feet a lot. Add a removable keyboard and a VPN or cloud access portal app, and you’ve got yourself a ready-made portable workstation with plenty of benefits and only the occasional sacrifice to usability. Let’s take a look at the leaders in tablet productivity.
Windows to the future
Microsoft’s Surface Pro series sets the gold standard for Windows users, with a full desktop OS squeezed into its slim 12-inch frame. If you think that’s a little large for a tablet, the Surface line drops down to a 10-inch form factor and the Surface 3 also sports a full Windows OS for about half the cost of its Pro 4 big brother. Both have additional keyboard covers and a stylus for versatility and comfortable usage.
Contenders to the crown
With the Surface lineup seeing global success, other providers have also moved into the tablet space. The Asus Transformer 3 Pro offers great value for minimum sacrifice, while the HP Elite x2 and Samsung Galaxy TabPro S both boast unique keyboard attachments and quality builds. Choosing between these offerings should come down to budget and design, as most sport similar ports and customisable specs under the hood.
iPad for business
Apple has also moved confidently into the productivity space with its iPad Pro lineup. The original Pro boasted a whopping 13-inch screen, but the addition of the pencil and a variety of first and third party keyboards to choose from really gives this iOS powered device a lot of versatility. The addition of split screen doesn’t hurt either. Apple has also released a 10-inch Pro device, for those more comfortable with the original iPad and looking for a touch-friendly ultrabook you can use as confidently as a tablet.
Android is where you’ll find the most choice for productivity tablets, though you’ll need to know the pros and cons before deciding if Android is for you. Samsung has a pretty broad tablet lineup, usually sporting an S-Pen and with keyboard docks available from third party providers. Other alternatives include the Sony Xperia Z4, which brings a Surface-like design to Android, and Google’s own Pixel-C, which showcases how the search giant imagines the latest Android, and sports a groundbreaking keyboard dock with multiple viewing angles.
2. Cloud storage
A number of companies are competing to be your business data storage in the sky, and many of these now provide an app for their service. Companies like Dropbox and Google want to make it easy for you to access your files from anywhere with an internet connection, without lugging around portable hard drives and other high-risk devices. All this competition is great for business consumers.
With a number of providers to choose from, and prices kept way down, the choices are plentiful.
Dropbox has been on the scene for years now, and is practically a household name. Despite being one of the few cloud service providers that isn’t diversified across a number of internet services, they’ve managed to maintain a cost-effective option for plenty of businesses and mobile teams.
Features include 2 GB of free storage for everyone, $10 per month for a terabyte, and support for just about every OS under the sun. Dropbox allows unlimited file size uploads via app (so long as you have the space) and up to 10 GB uploads via the web page.
The search giant seems to have a finger in every pie these days, and cloud storage is no exception. Perhaps Google Drive’s most unique feature is its seamless integration with other Google services like Docs and Sheets. File sharing is easy and intuitive and via Docs, users can simultaneously edit documents in collaboration with people all around the globe
Google Drive features 15 GB free with a whopping 5 TB as a maximum file size (no one even comes close to this if file size is important). Price options include $2 per month for 100GB and $10 per month for 2 TB.
Amazon Cloud Drive
Amazon Web Services are quickly gaining popularity among SaaS and IaaS providers for speedy deployment and architecture. Amazon’s Cloud Drive is also a great option for business professionals on the go.
Amazon Cloud Drive features no free storage (small amount to Amazon Prime members) but unlimited storage for $60 a year.
3. A quality keyboard
Some days are desk days. And while a PC is a PC, there are ways to make that next big report a little enjoyable to write, starting with a great keyboard.
For those looking for a shaped ergonomic solution, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard is a curved, split solution that comes with an additional mouse. With a perfectly shaped wrist pad and detachable number pad, this is as good as it gets for ergo keys.
The Logitech K810 and K811 have been around for a while now, but they remain a great quality Bluetooth keyboard. The main difference between the two (besides the lighter brushed aluminum on the K811), is that the K810 has Windows Keys and the K811 is strictly for Macs. Both are an absolute joy to use though, with adjustable backlighting behind the keys. The keyboards also allow up to 3 profiles, meaning you can switch easily between multiple devices.
4. Payment apps
Paying for that next business lunch with your phone is so good you’ll probably want to toss your fat old leather wallet into the ocean. Which app you use can be platform-dependant – Apple Pay for iPhones and Android Pay for everything else.
There are alternatives though. Most banks have their own app, which might be a better alternative from a security perspective.
5. Physical storage
Cloud Services are great for safety and security, but heavy use on mobile can rack up some pretty hefty bills for your business, not to mention patchy reception or WiFi ruining your next sales meeting. Personal storage is still a perfectly viable option for the modern business professional, with tech advancements and the proliferation of cloud services conspiring to drive prices down.
First up, you’ll want to avoid physically large hard disk drives that come with separate power packs – a healthy solid state drive is a more portable and effective option. We’re currently in the transition phase to USB-C, so newer devices will support this standard, but even the non-reversing USB plugs will work with the right adaptor (look for transfer speeds 3 to 3.1).
Small businesses should also look at a NAS (Network Attached Storage) for a viable option in lieu of a full server rack. Look for one with removable storage and drive mirroring to protect against data loss. The modern NAS is cheap, easy to configure and can be setup for remote access and auto backup to the cloud with relative ease, or with the small cost of talking to an IT professional.
Incorporate technology into your business
To increase the productivity and efficiency within your business, consider incorporating some of these devices and apps into your business communications. This will assist with business processes, increasing efficiency and allowing your business to focus on growth.
Author: Biz Think Tank
BizThinkTank is a dedicated small business website, with a wealth of regularly updated tips and articles. Whether you’re looking to start a business or grow your business, you’ll find a wealth of handy advice and information.