While I don’t have an objective measure to prove it, I believe that I am at least twice as productive as I was 5 years ago because of the various apps I use on my smartphone and tablet. I’m constantly surprised at how many business owners haven’t yet embraced this amazing new technology.
Here’s a typical example of how I use apps for improved productivity, in this case for travel.
Yesterday, I did morning and afternoon keynote presentations for groups in Houston, TX. At 4:00 PM. As I headed out into the unbelievable Houston rush hour traffic using Uber (a transportation app) to the airport, my TripIt app told me that my flight was cancelled. This was a serious problem. I had to be in Canton, OH by morning or I’d miss my next speaking engagement.
So I fire up my FlightBoard app, which shows every flight out of Houston during the next four hours. I see that Delta has a 5:50 PM departure running 15 minutes behind schedule and I can make that because Waze (my social GPS app) has a deadly reliable estimate of my arrival time at IAH (5:03 PM in case you’re curious).
So I fire up my Kayak app and discover that the Delta flight to Pittsburgh (via Altlanta) is available for less than $200. I buy the ticket and then launch my Delta app to get my boarding passes. I add these to my Apple Passbook app so they’ll be available on my Apple Watch when I reach the airport.
I board my Delta flight bound for Atlanta and we pull back from the gate 15 minutes late as projected. Unfortunately, within one minute, the pilot stops the plane and shuts down the engines. I can’t help but remember that DELTA is an acronym that stands for Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport, but this time it’s not actually their fault. It’s a thunderstorm that has the entire airport under ground stop.
Finally, the lightning passes and we take off to Atlanta. As soon as the wheels touch down, I switch my iPhone out of “airplane mode” and receive a TripIt update. I’ll transcribe it for you here:
TripIt Pro [10:00 PM]: DL54 arr term N, gate E-35. 8m to make conn @ ATL DL1072 term N, gate E-16.
In short, I’ve got 8 minutes to make my connection. Did I mention that I’m sitting at the very back of the plane because I purchased my ticket just 90-minutes before departure?
FlightBoard also tells me that the Pittsburgh flight is indeed leaving in 8 minutes but upon finally disembarking, I run to gate E-16 anyway. Not surprisingly, when I get there the gate area is deserted, save for one friendly agent who says “Man, I held it for you as long as I could.” I’m sure it wasn’t even close.
So now I call my travel agent’s emergency 24-hour hotline for help. According to the agent, the next flight to Pittsburgh, Akron, Cleveland or anywhere close departs Atlanta at 8:30 AM tomorrow. This is really bad news, as my 3-hour keynote in Canton is scheduled to start at 8:00 AM. I’ll miss it entirely.
So back to FlightBoard. Miracle! It’s now 10:20 PM but the 10:04 PM Delta flight to Cleveland is showing a 60-minute delay. My travel agent can’t see it (or book it) in her system because it’s past departure time. FlightBoard shows the gate is B3. While I’ve got plenty of time to make it there, I run anyway. Long story short, I make the flight with time to spare. I’m the only guy on the plane who’s happy that it’s running behind schedule.
Before we take off, I use the Hertz app to book a car in Cleveland, and the Marriot app to book a Springfield Suites hotel in Akron. My Google Maps app shows that the hotel is roughly 2/3 of the way along the preferred route to my meeting in Canton, so I’ll have just a 30-minute drive in the morning.
Yes, it was short night but the iPhone alarm roused me on time, the Waze app found me the fastest route and informed me (always with a half mile advance notice) about police locations, objects on the road, and such. And Gas Buddy found me a place for a final “bio break” and energy drink just before my destination.
It all worked out OK and the client was delighted. Five years ago, this happy ending would have been impossible. Embrace your apps business people.