Modern businesses need to be agile and flexible to succeed, so it comes as no surprise that the availability of smartphones and tablets has made it much easier for employees to be productive when out in the field.
A powerful, portable device which is connected to high speed wireless networking can be the link between staff and the central office so that they are able to access the same services that are available to them at their desks, even if they are on the move.
Appreciating the benefits of mobile for business will encourage you to take advantage of this type of device today. So here is an overview of what can be achieved by using smartphones and tablets in an enterprise environment.
Telephony & VoIP
The core function of a smartphone is still its ability to make voice calls and this has to be the best reason for business users to remain invested in mobile devices. As well as having the ability to call any other mobile or landline number both domestically and internationally, current generation smartphones are also endowed with the ability to handle VoIP communications through dedicated applications.
VoIP may be something you have invested in for the office, helping to lower call costs, improve management tools and reduce the need for complicated on-site PBX setups. In the mobile sphere, it offers all the same advantages but in a portable package. Calls can be forwarded to smartphones automatically so that staff are connected and contactable wherever they are. With mobile VoIP services operating over Wi-Fi networks, it should be possible to harness this functionality even if a mobile user is outside the bounds of normal network coverage.
VoIP is still completely backwards compatible with legacy telephone services, so you can make calls to other web-based contacts and still ring up landline and mobile numbers as necessary.
Email & IM
Further communications capabilities are available to enterprise mobile users through the plethora of messaging options which are built into even the most basic of portable handsets. Users can fully synchronise multiple email accounts to a single device, so that they can send and receive messages, download and upload attachments and do everything available with a desktop machine, but using something that fits in the palm of the hand.
Email is just one messaging option, because along with traditional SMS modern smartphones also have the ability to access IM (instant messaging) services. IM is a great way for staff to stay in contact in real time, with great continuity between conversations and the ability to communicate discreetly and quickly. Popular IM services like BlackBerry messenger are widely used in the enterprise world and this solution in particular has recently been confirmed as coming to a wider array of major smartphone platforms including iOS and Android.
Last year mobile users sent more instant messages than texts for the first time, which shows just how popular and powerful IM has become in the mobile space.
Apps & Productivity
A smartphone platform is only as good as the apps that are available to download for it, so with hundreds of thousands of mini programs featured on the four biggest mobile operating systems, it is easy to choose a device and be satisfied with its software capabilities. You can use popular and generic apps, apps which are designed specifically for enterprise use and even design apps that are exclusive to employees of your business.
Apps can perform a nearly unlimited number of tasks, from allowing you to check up on customer information to harnessing location-based capabilities which will supply information about your surroundings without having recourse to a travel guide. There are even apps that conjoin with cloud computing services to deliver powerful features to smartphones which might not otherwise be available on a portable platform. This will keep you constantly connected to your business without even requiring you to carry a laptop around and seek out a landline or Wi-Fi web connection.
Tablet computers have risen to prominence slightly more recently than smartphones, although the market has diversified to the degree that the Apple iPad is not the only viable option for business users. Tablets tend to run on mobile-oriented operating systems, although the emergence of Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface Pro has meant that users can enjoy a full desktop OS experience on an all-in-one touchscreen device. With access to apps, messaging, web browsing, GPS and all the features to be found on a smartphone, tablets are portable and highly functional, allowing for easy access to business services when out and about.
In addition the larger displays to be seen upon tablets make them ideal for other purposes. For example, they can be used to store brochures which can be shown to clients and even used for improvised presentations. Tablets are more portable than laptops and with displays ranging from seven to ten inches they are the ideal accompaniment for business users, often joining forces with smartphones for the purposes of Wi-Fi tethering when a shared data connection is required.
Costs & BYOD
Perhaps the only thing which you might consider as being prohibitive to the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets is the cost associated with the devices themselves. This might have been an issue in the past, but a growing number of companies are turning to BYOD (bring your own device) culture for the answer. In fact many businesses will find that employees may already be using personal smart devices during the working day, so it is better to accept this state and benefit from it rather than attempt to stifle such activities.
BYOD means that the costs of procurement will plummet and once staff have been trained on the proper usage of mobile devices, covering the topics of best practice and security, there should be no obstacles preventing you from embracing adoption. Consistent connectivity means workers can remain productive whether they are in the office, out in the field, commuting to and from work or even working from home. Smartphones and tablets are able to provide this level of continuity, leaving you always connected to your business and in a better position to help it thrive in the future.