The business world is a fast-changing place. Information and communication technology is continually setting the pace. New advances in technology are changing the way everyone works. Not only at the desk, where more can be done in a day, in less time than ever before, but also on the road and away from the office.
The Need for Mobile Solutions An increasing number of businesses are recognising the need for mobile data solutions. Typically, there are two options:
>A hosted exchange solution where everything is managed for you and your people. All you see are the messages, email basic messages, data, reports, and content that are delivered to your PC or mobile online device as part of your hosting agreement.
>A mobile information server, which is a full solution, managed inside your business or by a hosted supplier. For a simple monthly fee plus airtime costs, you get everything you require, including all the hardware, software, installation, training, and support.
Most small businesses that have invested in mobile solutions are reporting significant productivity gains.
What's Out There?
Wireless systems bring huge benefits. With no cables to worry about, you can easily add new users to your network. You can download files and print documents from your laptop or handheld device without any awkward connections. And you can move around the office yet remain online as if you were at your desk.
systems let you swap data and synchronise calendars between infrared-enabled devices such as mobile phones, laptops, and personal digital assistants (PDAs) without cable connections. They operate over short-ranges.
Bluetooth-enabled devices also communicate wirelessly. They don’t need line of sight to make them work. Bluetooth-enabled PCs, notebooks, PDAs, printers and mobile phones can talk to each other over a short range – up to 10 metres – without any wires. Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) is the wireless technology of the moment. Fast, reliable and secure, it offers a range of up to 550 metres.
GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) is a wireless communication service that provides continuous connection to the internet for mobile phone and computer users. It lets users take part in video conferences and interact with multimedia websites and similar applications using mobile handheld devices and notebook computers.
The Next Generation Next-generation mobile phones add more features every day, letting users browse the internet in colour, make voice calls, send text messages and emails. They can also work as cameras allowing users to take and send photos with voice messages attached. New 3G (3rd-generation) mobile phones transfer data faster and allow it to be shared in real time between multiple users. They also provide video conferencing and enable access to documents, databases and work schedules stored on company intranets and secure websites.
In addition, there are powerful hand held computer devices now available, including PDAs, Smartphones, and Tablet PCs.
What Does All This Mean for Me? Mobile options give you and your people speed, freedom, flexibility, and the resources to work anywhere, at any time and in any way. The technology can enable you to:
- Increase productivity
- Save money on the cost of renting office space
- Increase employee motivation
- Optimize the flexibility of your trading hours (your staff can work outside of office hours)
- Reduce employee stress levels
- Save the cost of hiring a central office
- Reduce business traveling costs
- Improve your company’s resilience against weather or transport problems
- Reduce employee commuting time and costs
- Employ specialist personnel irrespective of location
- Offer an attractive proposition when employing new recruits
Sekhar writes articles for Microsoft India Small Business