Technology affects almost all of our businesses. Whether you are in a field that relies heavily on technology or in one that incorporates it to make a more convenient, streamlined experience for your customers, utilizing technology can help any business owner be more successful. One area of technology that has made huge strides in the past few years is mobile technology. More people than ever are accessing email, games, books and other resources from smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices that are convenient, cost-effective and portable. Of course, there is always a danger to technology and the two that many businesses face is that they use technology to replace human interaction and customer service and that they jump into technology too fast without first learning how to best incorporate it into their business and train their employees to use it effectively.
Working with professionals to consider which new technologies make sense to add to your business and then to make sure your staff is getting trained properly is key. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all of the new products that are available and think you need every single one of them in your business TODAY. However, this is a mistake and one that you will be paying for in numerous ways. Every piece of new technology is not appropriate or advantageous for every business out there. However, it is always a good idea to stay up on the trends and learn more about what is out there so you can make informed decisions on what to incorporate into your own business strategy.
Here are a few to consider:
“U.S. Cellular’s Android-powered devices can access more than 700,000 Google Play apps and there are many apps available for business professionals,” explains Megan Goeke with U.S. Cellular. “U.S. Cellular can help business customers select the best ones to help them stay connected and be more productive. It’s all part of our focus on providing the best customer experience. Popular free business apps from Google Play include Documents To Go 3.0 Main App, which allows you to view Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, and PrinterShare Mobile Print, an app that allows you to print documents directly from your device. The Square Register app accepts credit cards, so you can run your business anywhere, while Box allows business professionals to view and share files.”
“Business customers expect a great deal from their wireless devices, so they can stay connected and are as organized and efficient as possible when they are away from the office,” continues Goeke. “They want devices that help them stay connected to employees, vendor partners and customers and be productive throughout the day.
The Galaxy S III is a cutting-edge device designed to enhance your life and make it easier to do the things you need your phone to do, such as messaging, multimedia activities and sharing information. Calendars and documents can be shared with S Beam by touching Galaxy S III phones together.
The Galaxy Note II is the ultimate multi-tasker with its unique Pop Up Play picture-in-picture feature that allows business customers to watch a video while reading an email or sending a text message. Pop Up Note allows customers to open an S Note instantly as a pop-up window anywhere on the screen to jot down a quick note during a phone call. Using the S Pen along with Air View, business customers can conveniently and quickly browse photos and documents without opening folders.”
“At U.S. Cellular, we look at the entire customer experience,” concludes Goeke. “We are helping our business customers get the most from their wireless devices, so they can stay connected and get more done. It’s also important that your phone works when you need it, so we provide a high-speed nationwide network and are rolling out 4G LTE service. Currently, 61 percent of our customers have access to 4G LTE speeds and 87 percent will have access by the end of 2013. Bellevue, La Vista, Omaha and Papillion are among the Nebraska cities that will receive 4G LTE services by the end of 2013.”
Those on the go don’t want to have to worry about connecting to their devices, which is why wireless solutions continue to evolve and provide more solutions. AJ Warner with Headsetters explains, “Bluetooth technology is always evolving: the range of the device is always growing farther, batteries lasting longer, devices getting more comfortable to wear, the strength and durability continues to improve, etc. These make it easy to talk on your phone, listen to music or connect to your tablet without worrying about cords or wires. We are also offering some headsets that have ‘multi-connections’ where the headset can connect to a computer, a landline, a VoIP and a cell phone all at once and all it takes is the push of a button to tell it which one to make a call from.”
In addition to offering wireless solutions for their customers, Headsetters also offer mobile access to their products and services. “People can log on to our website and browse our entire inventory and/or order the product from a computer, smartphone or tablet,” Warner explains. “On top of that, we have a growing Facebook and Pinterest page that are linked to our site for easy cross-traffic, which can again be used on a computer, phone or tablet. These features benefit our customers because they can satisfy their headset needs on the go, as well as browse our inventory at any time of the day, any day of the week. Even when we’re closed on nights and weekends, people never have to be out of info or out of contact. We also post all Headsetters news on our social media pages. Finally, we are thinking about an app for smartphones and tablets because of the sheer number of products we carry. This app would offer a simplified, stripped-down version of our website. Anyone with an Android or iPhone would be able to order products right from their phone without the loading and large pages of a website.”
Web companies such as Nouvo Design understand that apps are becoming more and more popular and are capitalizing on them by focusing on customizing apps for the best user experience and following it up with a web-based app for those who don’t want to download the app to their smart device. “We can design and build apps for IPhones, Androids and tablet devices such as the iPad,” says Justin Henriksen with Nouvo Design. “There are many benefits to apps. The app resides on the phone and doesn’t always rely on an internet connection, so the user can experience it at any time. Also, the app is made for the device it’s being display on, making it easy to use and control the appearance of it, which is something we cannot always do with websites.”
“Mobile devices have changed the face of technology,” continues Henriksen. “It’s no longer, ‘let’s build a website’. Now it’s ‘let’s build an app and make the mobile device our main focus’. It’s the first time your company and brand name can be in front of your customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and that’s exciting stuff and a value you cannot put a price tag on. I would encourage those reading this to look at their websites on the devices they use. With 50% of all local internet searches happening on mobile devices (and growing), it’s easy to see why building a website or app around devices can be so important to your growth and sales.”
CrossPointe Innovations specializes in bringing wireless expertise to a new level for today’s business owner and Mark Mason knows the importance of apps. “We offer a variety of applications for our clients based upon their business needs,” states Mark. “Mobile Credit Card Payments, Customer Data Base, Mobile Dispatching and Healthcare mobile applications are examples of what many businesses are utilizing in their respective industries. Utilization of these applications are all put into place for our clients to serve their customers more efficiently, accurately and to maximize business processes within. We are seeing more and more custom applications being developed for specific industries, all to increase productivity, improve processes and maximize business revenue.”
Tom Nielsen with Cost Effective Technologies and Floor99 also incorporates mobile applications to better assist their clients. “The entire Floor99 platform and all 5000+ web applications are available on most mobile devices,” he says. “From CRM, Document Management, Human Resource and Donor Management applications, we have a built-in gateway to access thousands of them. The clients who take advantage of mobile applications think they help with productivity. We see it especially from our CRM and Sales applications as management is able to get real time reporting from their staff in the field. It also allows employees to be more real-time with status so they don’t feel like they have to go back to the office or home to recap their day or get their notes in.”
Getting trained on new technology that you are incorporating is vitally important. Many of the companies you work with will offer training solutions for you and your employees so you can most effectively utilize the products and services they offer. However, if you decide to go with a company that does not provide this, make sure you are seeking out a professional in the area who provides training. Technology is only as good as those operating it and you want to make sure you have not thrown your money away by purchasing costly products that no one in your office knows how to use!
The key to making technology and mobile solutions work for your business is making sure they enhance your core products and services and never take the place of what matters most: good old fashioned customer service. Although technology can help with the customer service aspect of any business, there is always the possibility that you and your staff can begin relying on it too much and lose the face-to-face experience that many customers value. A good mix of technology and hands-on customer service is the key to many businesses’ success.
Mark Mason with CrossPointe Innovations also stresses that embracing technology is very important for businesses. “Mobility is key for today’s business, especially if you are working to serve the needs of others,” he says. “Embracing technology and investing in the time to learn and implement it is what we see is separating businesses from just staying ‘status quo’ and pushing ahead.”