February 2, 2009

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Article

The Mobile Office

Smartphones Put the Workday Desk on the Road

Jared Preusz

February 2, 2009

With businesses more tech-savvy than ever, many wonder how the next wave in technology will impact their day-to-day operations. For some business leaders, mobile broadband, a term that describes wireless high speed Internet access through a portable modem, is the next big thing. Several Utah companies have switched to the new technology by purchasing smartphones and claim their business is now much more effective. The Blackberry, Google Android and Apple iPhone are popular devices that have made it possible to take business anywhere. On the Go There are many reasons why Utah companies rave about mobile broadband. Jason Ellis, CEO of Spring Mobile, a supplier of mobile broadband devices that caters to small- and medium-sized businesses, says smartphones are speed efficient, accessible and reliable. “In my opinion, it is a benefit to employers because you can give your employees greater flexibility,” says Ellis. “You don’t necessarily have to be in an office or be connected to a laptop to get the important information that you need. Most of that can be done from the mobile device.” Ellis says the three top selling phones at his company are Blackberry smartphones including the Curve, Bold and Pearl. All of his sales managers have their own smartphone and with it they are able to access sales information from anywhere. He believes the smartphone’s versatile features, such as viewing a Microsoft Office application and editing documents, makes it useful to almost anyone. Industry software can also be run on smartphones, making them especially useful for executives and other business personnel on the go. Justin Beck, vice president of marketing at DirectPointe, an IT outsourcing provider, says since his company started using smartphones two years ago, things have operated more efficiently. Also, every employee at the company has his or her own T-Mobile Dash, and some have started using the new Google Android. “We work a lot remotely with customers,” says Beck. “So we are not always in our office at a computer and the smartphone allows us to get more collaboration done.” Smartphones were also instrumental to DirectPointe when the company recently created a new company, CentralPointe. These handheld devices helped DirectPointe easily share documents, communicate and collaborate with team members in Boston, Texas and Utah. “Smartphones are beyond just communication,” Beck says. “They involve producing things rather than just talking about things.” A Smart Investment? Smartphones are not cheap and with the nation’s sagging economy, many businesses question whether they are worth the investment. Before purchasing, here are a few things you should consider: 1. Nature of Your Business. Smart-phones are most useful if your business involves time outside of the office for trips, meetings and vacations. If the nature of your business is more inside the office than out, it may not be a good idea to purchase smartphones. However, some businesses in this situation will disagree, since the devices will allow employees to communicate easier before or after work in order to negotiate deadlines, projects, etc. 2. Discounts from Mobile Broadband Providers. Many mobile broadband providers offer discounts to companies that buy smartphones. This can make it more affordable for businesses with tight budgets. “We have specific pricing for small- to medium-sized businesses and we have dedicated account teams that work just with these companies,” Ellis says. “In addition to equipment pricing discounts, they will also get air time discounts. Depending on the size of their company, they can get up to 8 percent of their total air time discounted if they sign up as a group.” 3. Type of Smartphone. With Apple, Blackberry, Google and others offering a smartphone, there are a number of options to choose from. Each one has its pros and cons and it is important to examine them and compare them with the others. It is also essential to examine your business operations and figure out which smartphone will be the most successful in achieving your company’s goals and objectives. Beck says the Google Android, so far has been the best smartphone DirectPointe has ever used. Mobile broadband, like all tech-nologies, is still far from perfect and there will be many improvements made to it in the future. “Mobile broadband is what we would consider today’s growing tech-nology,” Ellis says. Beck believes more businesses will adopt mobile broadband as it becomes mass produced and more affordable. “As those tools are available, we will learn to do things differently,” says Beck. “In the past, we had some things that were very static and now things are more live and collaborative.”
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