What’s That One App That You Can’t Live Without?

Remember the days of doing a Phase I environmental site assessment without a digital camera? Or GPS? Or a scanner? Or finding a place to grab lunch or dinner before yelp?

How many of you now use smart phones (i.e., those equipped with email, text, a camera, browser and applications) in the field? A lot. Eighty percent to be exact. And one-quarter of you are already using new tablets in the field. This percentage will only grow over time. Gartner just released a forecast predicting that in just two short years, mobile application use in the workplace will double.

Are you overwhelmed by all the apps out there? Worried you’re not harnessing the latest and greatest for your field work but no time to dig around?

My EDR colleague, Paul Schiffer who spoke at last week’s webinar on how technology is revolutionizing property assessments, had this to say about apps: “Apps today are sort of like websites were back in the 1990s. Nobody could tell what website to go to, so all sorts of recommendation engines sprung up. There were magazines, lists of the best sites, specialists, etc. That is actually how Yahoo started….as a list of web sites. Eventually the Yahoo list got so big that it turned into a search engine. Then Yahoo got so big that another company (Google) did it better. Today, the engines for finding apps are online/social recommendation networks, but finding new apps is still unsettled and unknown territory.”

In EDR Insight’s July survey of environmental professionals, we asked respondents to tell us what apps they use (see below graphic). Perhaps not surprisingly, the most popular had to do with travel, data documentation and eating. The apps that consultants get the most jazzed up about are the ones like camscanner that allow document scanning in the field. As one gushed, “this app is so good, it’s like having a high-quality scanner in your pocket that can convert multiple pages of documentation quickly into a pdf.”

Mobile technology is forcing firms in every industry to rethink how they do business. Things are moving fast, but not so fast that you can’t keep up. It’s fun to think about what the world of future site works might look like—and the new ways we’ll have to use mobile devices to do our jobs from just about anywhere at any time.

What’s your must-have app? Which one couldn’t you live without?