Lucy Jameson, chief executive, Grey London
Google Maps and podcasts
I’m going to cheat and go for a perfect pair: Google Maps and podcasts. Planner types are notorious for getting lost but Google Maps makes sure I always easily find my way to a meeting and help me figure out the best commutes and running routes, even when travelling. Meanwhile, podcasts provide the perfect soundtrack. Things such as HBR IdeaCast and Peter Day’s World Of Business or US classics such as StartUp. Stuff that opens up new points of view and makes me smarter every time I listen. If the much-hyped Howl becomes a one-stop shop for podcasts like Netflix, then my commutes will be complete.
Ben Jones, chief technology officer, AKQA
Staying ahead is about hiring the best possible talent. But it’s a small pool of great minds to fish from and a huge number of anglers. The best person is a maker and problem-solver at heart: a designer who codes and a coder who is creative. Identifying this archetype is never easy but LittleBits came along and we incorporated the kits into our interviews. LittleBits is a set of electronic building blocks that snap together to allow you to invent anything. AKQA job candidates get a box that asks: "Are you the future?" They create and code. If they’re good, they’re through to the next stage. Simple.
Richard Huntington, chief strategy officer, Saatchi & Saatchi
If you don’t like noise and need to work in a quiet environment, might I suggest that advertising was the wrong career choice? To my mind, agencies should be noisy, industrious and chaotic places, and music is a big part of that. For that reason, I am head over heels in love with Apple Music and the way it beautifully integrates my bought, downloaded and streamed music with not a care in the world. So if you are visiting Saatchi & Saatchi and your senses are assailed by bad 70s prog rock, that will be me bashing out PowerPoint to Apple Music. Sure, it may be Spotify in sheep’s clothing but I have never got on with Spotify. Mainly because it’s not Apple.
Nigel Vaz, global chief strategy officer, senior vice-president and managing director, Europe, SapientNitro
When I first started with Evernote, I carefully explained to a client that I would be typing notes straight into my phone. Next time we met, when I started typing, she stopped speaking, so I would stop and she would start again. Eventually, I reminded her about Evernote; she had forgotten and assumed I was texting. I’m still not sure business etiquette has caught up with technology. These days, I use Evernote more than ever. People probably think I’m on social media but, more likely than sharing thoughts, I’m probably gathering them – by capturing notes on the fly or clipping and annotating things I have read.
Annette King, chief executive, Ogilvy & Mather UK
What this did was take three pre-existing technologies, namely the smartphone, the online map and GPS, and melded them together to solve about ten problems in one go. It solves the uncertainty problem (you get an instant estimate of wait time and then watch the assigned car approach on a map). It solves the expense-claim problem (add your PA’s e-mail address to the app and receipts are copied automatically). It also solves the cash problem and even the "where the hell am I?" problem. With your smartphone hidden under a table, it also solves the "how can I book a car ten minutes before the party/meeting ends without looking rude?" problem. And it even solves the language-barrier problem: how do you call a taxi in a city where taxi drivers don’t speak English – New York, for instance?
Zaid Al-Zaidy, chief executive, McCann London
Truthfully, it has got to be the smartphone. Phoning, mailing, messaging, navigating, searching for info, networking, scheduling and, ahem, gaming… packed into something the size of a slab of cheese. I love apps that take the friction out of work. Instant car access through Uber and Hailo liberate me from heinous 08.00 "I’ve arrived" calls, the anxiety of cars leaving, waiting time charges and having to explain the whole drama to the driver, their headquarters and my PA. LinkedIn takes the awkwardness out of cold-calling. Sonos allows me to turn down the office jukebox without looking like a killjoy.
Al MacCuish, chief creative officer, Sunshine
The Headspace app sits on the front page of my phone and gets used regularly. The business was co-founded by the ex-Bartle Bogle Hegarty employee Rich Pierson and the meditation expert Andy Puddicombe, and has become the most successful meditation app of all time. Its mission is to bring "meditation to the masses" in a way that helps people cope better with the stresses and strains of everyday life. Meditation is no longer seen as marginal or soft – the science behind its impact on creativity and performance speaks for itself. We could all do with a little more head space – this app is a brilliant way to get some.
Bridget Angear, joint chief strategy officer, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
It has been said that the pen is the tongue of the mind. All very well and good but you need something to write on. And my vellum of choice is a Post-it note. I love their inviting colours. But, most of all, I love their size. Just large enough to express one simple thought. No more, no less. And I love being able to stick them up on a wall, rearrange them to find patterns and use them to map out a story. If the thought is clear enough, a Post-it note is all you need to express it.
Laura Jordan Bambach, creative partner, Mr President
The smartphone has got to be the obvious choice – it has changed everything about my "work life". First, by allowing me to have one – the continuity between work and the rest of my life that means I can have a more flexible and productive creative flow. I can find greater inspiration by spending time away from my desk and spending proper time with my family when they need it too. I get so much more done now on both fronts. It has also changed a lot of what we make – understanding how to connect with people on their mobile has been an exciting development in working creatively with brands.
Andy Sandoz, creative partner, Havas Work Club
There’s always a little magic in good technology. When you see someone else in your Google Doc finish your sentence, in real time, it’s in equal parts exciting and unsettling. Like the computer is doing your work for you – just as we were promised it would back in the 50s. I don’t need a flying car. I need Google Docs. Beware of those anonymous animals, though – the ghosts in the machine.
David Golding, chief strategy officer, Adam & Eve/DDB
I know the radio isn’t new but the iPlayer Radio app is. And it has changed my professional world. There’s not much to recommend about Paddington, but it’s not Omnicom Towers and it affords me the opportunity to walk to work. It takes 40 minutes from perennially "up and coming" Queen’s Park and, with the app, that’s 40 minutes of being immersed in Radio 4. So I now arrive slightly sweaty but full of political wisdom, sporting insight and religious observation. My briefs are pure Humphrys, my charts rather Naughtie. It does buffer a lot – but don’t we all these days?
Michael Sugden, chief executive, VCCP
TeuxDeux and Keynote
My rational answer is TeuxDeux but my emotional answer is different. Very few of us will die wishing we had seen more PowerPoint presentations. PowerPoint is the modern equivalent of the lobotomy. Along with its devil-child offspring, Clip Art and WordArt, PowerPoint has the ability to numb entire audiences into a form of the living dead. PowerPoint is evil. Which is why Keynote is the tech/app that has made the biggest difference to my professional life. It works, you can be creative and you never have to use PowerPoint ever again.
Helen Calcraft, founding partner, Lucky Generals
Amazon Prime Now
A vast array of products delivered to your office within the hour. Yep. Within the hour. I had forgotten a client’s anniversary but, by the end of the meeting, a "thoughtful" set of chocolate medals from the Generals were wrapped and ready. Bacon-saver. Amazon, we salute you.