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AT&T rolls out a new tool to recommend mobile business apps.

Small-business owners crave mobile applications as much as the next savvy smartphone user. According to market research firm Compass Intelligence, American small businesses will spend nearly $350 million on mobile software in 2010 alone.

Yet the overwhelming volume of games, e-books and fart apps in consumer-centric storefronts like Apple's App Store make it increasingly difficult for businesses to identify and evaluate mobile tools suited to their specific demands. So AT&T has introduced the Small Business Mobile Application Recommender Tool, or SMART, an online portal that spotlights operator-certified apps categorized by industry verticals and lines of business.

At, select your requirement from a checklist to see the recommended apps.

SMART spans verticals such as financial services, construction, healthcare and real estate, targeting demands such as customer relations management, sales force automation and field services. In addition to the iPhone, it boasts apps optimized for handsets running the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian operating systems, and it even features software optimized for old-school WAP devices.

If SMART's initial suggestions aren't quite smart enough, users can further refine the requirement of their business, inputting information on their business or project type.

Besides applications from independent software developer partners, SMART also offers apps directly from AT&T. Here are four.

  1. Airtime Manager: A tool to track billable hours on BlackBerry devices, capturing time associated with mobile messaging, phone calls and other billable events. Data is entered directly into the firm's billing system.
  2. Associate: It transforms compatible smartphones into portable dictation devices. Users can capture, encrypt, transfer and store verbal information in a centralized location for retrieval by authorized staff.
  3. Nice Office: A CRM solution including a browser application that synchronizes with Microsoft Outlook. Users can wirelessly sync contacts, calendar, tasks and notes. The app also offers real-time job updates, detailed reporting capabilities and automatic logging, backup and recovery of mobile activities.
  4. ProntoForms: An app to streamline out-of-office processes and work flows. Users can create forms, capture data, generate reports and manage users in real-time. 

This story appears in the October 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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