I wanted to start this post with an exam­ple of a great B2B mobile app that I reg­u­larly use—an app that I can’t imag­ine doing my job with­out. But I couldn’t think of one. Not that they don’t exist—I’m sure they do—but I per­son­ally haven’t found an app that is engag­ing, gen­uinely use­ful, and inte­grates seam­lessly with my day-to-day workflow.

If a firm that I already fol­lowed cre­ated an app that helped me become a bet­ter mar­keter, stream­line my work, and was enjoy­able to use, I’d down­load it in a heart­beat. I can think of sev­eral tools and processes I’d love to see in a mobile app; there’s a clear gap in the B2B mobile expe­ri­ence that dig­i­tal mar­keters should be rac­ing to fill. Mobile presents tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ties for B2B com­pa­nies to reach their audi­ence with increas­ingly use­ful and valu­able brand inter­ac­tions and services.

For the typ­i­cal B2B per­sona, the value of a prod­uct can be mea­sured by how much it increases effi­ciency or stream­lines a process. That’s why pro­duc­tiv­ity is at the heart of the B2B mobile engage­ment cycle.

Defin­ing Productivity

Pro­duc­tiv­ity can best be described as effec­tive­ness: It is a mea­sure of out­comes against effort. In other words, the less effort it takes to accom­plish a given task, the more pro­duc­tive that effort is. Pack­ag­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity for B2B users means more than sim­ply repli­cat­ing a process they already per­form. It’s not just a cal­en­dar app; it’s a cal­en­dar app that syncs with cowork­ers’ sched­ules, auto­mat­i­cally updates across devices, sends event noti­fi­ca­tions, stores recur­ring infor­ma­tion, and ini­ti­ates sup­ply orders when the time comes.

Great Exam­ples of B2B Mobile Pro­duc­tiv­ity Tools That Actively Engage Users

1. Mobi­lize Prospect­ing and Networking

Hoovers Inc. is a B2B com­pany that makes cor­po­rate, indus­try, and cus­tomer data avail­able to busi­nesses build­ing lists, and look­ing for leads and indus­try insights. In 2010, they rolled out an app that “uses location-based tech­nol­ogy as a sales prospect­ing tool.” Their users can search and seg­ment prospects; map and group sales calls by region; and even get direc­tions to their next stop. These tools make the sales rep more effi­cient, increas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity by increas­ing the num­ber of calls he or she can make in a given day.

The Mon­e­tate Resource Library is a con­tent app for dig­i­tal mar­keters that deliv­ers “the lat­est trends, best prac­tices, and inno­v­a­tive cam­paigns for cre­at­ing the ulti­mate online cus­tomer expe­ri­ence.” It com­bines 50 web­site opti­miza­tion resources cov­er­ing test­ing, mer­chan­dis­ing, con­ver­sion rate opti­miza­tion (CRO), and tar­get­ing in mul­ti­ple lengths and for­mats. And you can quickly print, book­mark, or email con­tent for later read­ing. This app posi­tions itself as the one-stop, com­pre­hen­sive source for stay­ing up to date and com­pet­i­tive as a dig­i­tal marketer—an entic­ing promise.

LinkedIn released Card­munch, a tool for col­lect­ing and orga­niz­ing busi­ness con­tacts that feeds directly back into their site. Users can instantly scan and upload busi­ness cards. The info will be processed by a live per­son, who fol­lows up with a LinkedIn invite to send to the new con­tact with a sin­gle click. The con­tact info also goes into a con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem, Out­look, and more. For the per­son who already uses LinkedIn, or who wants to, this is a bril­liant way to ramp up engage­ment with the site while sim­pli­fy­ing users’ lives.

2. Mobi­lize Busi­ness Meetings

Adobe has its own Web con­fer­enc­ing plat­form that works across devices. Thanks to the mobile app, I have attended work meet­ings and viewed pre­sen­ta­tions from the pas­sen­ger seat of my car and the bleach­ers at my kids’ bas­ket­ball practices.

Tele­con­fer­ences are the norm for many busi­ness teams. Smart­phone video­con­fer­enc­ing is a wel­come option for B2B users, so long as the tech­nol­ogy is viable. Enabling vir­tual meet­ings is a sure way to become a valu­able productivity-boosting resource for com­pa­nies. But mobi­liz­ing meet­ings means much more than tele­con­fer­enc­ing: apps are spring­ing up to help plan and orga­nize meet­ings, con­nect atten­dees, and dis­sem­i­nate sched­ule changes and agenda updates instantaneously.

Meetr takes a unique approach to meet­ing man­age­ment by help­ing “com­pa­nies and employ­ees cal­cu­late the cost of time spent by groups or indi­vid­u­als in meet­ings, con­fer­ence calls or other events.” Addi­tional fea­tures include Meetr Docs, for access­ing and edit­ing shared doc­u­ments, and tools to pre­pare and present mate­ri­als and follow-up with attendees.

This year, Adobe is rolling out an app for the 2014 Sum­mit. The Web-based and mobile app lets users access a detailed guide to ses­sions, spe­cial events, pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment work­shops, speak­ers, exhibitors, and more. The app can inte­grate with per­sonal dig­i­tal cal­en­dars, help you nav­i­gate the con­fer­ence loca­tion, net­work with fel­low atten­dees, and con­nect on social media channels.

3. Mobi­lize Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Management

CRM can encom­pass a broad range of ser­vices, activ­i­ties, and touch­points, and there are many apps on the mar­ket to cover a range of needs. Yet it’s still one of the most impor­tant and sought-after areas of mobile busi­ness tech­nol­ogy. Dif­fer­en­ti­ate your mobile CRM tools by tai­lor­ing them to the pref­er­ences and pri­or­i­ties of your unique B2B users (hint: you may want to start by look­ing at the needs and pro­files of their unique customers).

Apps like Nim­ble and Con­tac­tu­ally have espe­cially strong social media inte­gra­tions, enabling users to fil­ter social streams so the impor­tant cus­tomer con­ver­sa­tions don’t get drowned out in the noise. Base mea­sures sales, goals, and quo­tas across mul­ti­ple regions, and Audius dash­face visu­al­izes that infor­ma­tion and lets sales employ­ees cre­ate cus­tomer contracts.

Com­pa­nies spend bil­lions on CRM sys­tems each year, but can’t always access and use them in the field. Even if you don’t cre­ate full-fledged CRM sys­tems, you can con­sider cre­at­ing a third-party mobile CRM app that helps users sync with and derive more value from their tech investments.

What Are You Doing to Cre­ate B2B Mobile Mar­ket­ing Tools That Engage Your Audience?

Whether at the office or work­ing remotely, pro­fes­sion­als rely on pro­duc­tiv­ity tools to stay in close con­tact with com­pany oper­a­tions. Cre­ate mobile expe­ri­ences that make us want to use B2B apps on our phones and tablets. Think of your brand as a B2B ally, and lis­ten to the pref­er­ences of entre­pre­neurs, busi­ness lead­ers, and mar­keters. As you respond with mobile con­tent and ser­vices that keep users con­nected with their team and their con­sumers, you posi­tion your brand as a cham­pion of their work. And, as you’ll learn in my next post, sup­port­ing and cel­e­brat­ing the efforts of your cus­tomers leads to a more rec­i­p­ro­cal rela­tion­ship with last­ing loyalty.