Starting a business is a bitter-sweet adventure. You get to be your own boss, but in the early days, you and your co-founder have to accomplish more with less. You may want to scale up the business and already have a lot of customer data available. But the more data you have, the harder it gets to keep track of the leads on a spreadsheet and identify your next best lead to follow. 

So you need something better and smarter than spreadsheets to improve productivity and manage customer relationship. Don’t have time to pick and choose the tools? No worries. We’ve selected 30 five-star applications in this e-book for small businesses to improve efficiency. Check it out. 

Get the e-book: The Best 30 Apps for Small Businesses

If you take a sneak peek, you may find some trends behind these new apps and technologies. The rise of cloud-based CRM, simple-to-use artificial intelligence and the need for better online team collaboration have opened new opportunities to smart apps that prepare small businesses for big wins.  

1. Smarter Apps Extend the Power of Cloud-based CRM

Having these ready-to-go app components on top of your cloud-based CRM, you are guaranteed an in-depth, 360-degree view of your customers at every touchpoint. You can easily plug in these third-party apps from the Salesforce AppExchange and use them right inside the Salesforce CRM console. For example, if your customer support representatives use LiveChat (available on AppExchange) to answer questions, data from the chat can be rolled directly into your CRM. And it gets even better when the CRM is also compatible with apps you are developing outside of the Salesforce ecosystem.

2. AI-Powered Apps Tell You Stories Behind Data

I know spreadsheets used to be your best friends for business analytics, but the rise of AI and machine-learning technology has made apps so intelligent that they can help you dissect data in seconds. Spreadsheets have limited capabilities for instant data updates, tracking and interpretation. But AI-powered apps can predict patterns, detect anomalies, and offer recommendations on new business opportunities in real-time.

For example, at Salesforce, Einstein Opportunity Insights helps salespeople set their next priorities. It uses your Sales Cloud data from historical sales cycles and engagement with customers (e.g., email) to discover whether deals are on track or at risk. With the AI add-on in the Salesforce1 app, you can easily filter out the noises and focus on deals you are most likely to win.  

3. Better Collaboration Apps Increases Your Productivity

We are embracing a more mobile workforce, as one-third of American workers are now freelancers or contractors. According to research from the SMB Group, 33% small businesses now support telecommuting for 10% or more of their employees. High performance teams utilize awesome collaboration tools like Quip, Chatter or TeamViewer to make long-distant teamwork as efficient as face-to-face communication. By allowing team members to view, access and share information across apps, devices and locations in real time, your team will be able to double productivity and move quickly when changes occur. 

Quip is designed to be mobile-first and works offline when wi-fi is unavailable. You can create, edit, and collaborate all in one place.

Want to get the full list of the 30 apps we recommend? Check out our free e-book here to upgrade the tech of your own business. Good luck!