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Business and Management
Workhorse applications help keep the business world on track.

They might not evoke oohs and ahs like splashy graphics applications, but key business apps continue to get appreciative nods of approval from users.

Contact managers and personal information managers (PIMs) made significant gains this year, in both usability and functionality. With contact managers increasingly becoming "home base" for many professionals, software publishers offered more flexibility than ever before so users could add customization with their own fields and reports. Improved drag-and-drop operations were also introduced to make it easier to pluck information from a contact list and deposit it in a calendar or to-do list. Expect even more integration in next year's contact managers, along with easier e-mail hooks, including the ability to attach e-mail messages to contact records.

Document management took some significant strides, too. OCR accuracy improved with engines that can "see" words in context, and related apps let you arrange documents logically with drag and drop. As we become more accustomed to dealing with digital documents, OCR will become even more ubiquitous--don't be surprised to see it incorporated into the major word processors soon.

Accounting--the bread and butter of business--got more graphical than ever. Graphics replaced stodgy menu commands while illustrating the workflow and letting you jump between functions or drill down for details. In the year ahead, look for improvements to inventory management, more flexible payroll features and seamless integration with online banking services. Networking features should also improve. And the contact management features that popped up in accounting programs over the last couple of years should become more integral parts of these apps.

Watch for more programs that address specific needs, such as personnel issues, and better analytical tools that integrate with spreadsheet and accounting programs.








Business and Management: The Winners

Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.