Well, not only have things gotten better but in the information technology arms race we call modern business, they had to get better. Today the common feature phone you made that first call with is nearly obsolete — your phone has an operating system now and it runs real applications. That’s all because you can’t be very productive any more just by making a call from anywhere. (Ok, it wasn’t quite anywhere, you needed some bars, but you get the point.)
You are climbing a ladder of expectations. Today your “device” manipulates data and communicates in many more ways than simple voice calls, there’s social, text and old reliable email to do business with, too. In short, you have the Internet and the expectation that the data and applications that sit on your desktop or laptop will follow you to your device.
That’s a reasonable expectation but it’s also where things can get sticky because apps for the big screen don’t automatically show up in your hand without some significant effort. Moreover, there are networking and security issues to consider for the souls who provision your device. And finally, there are questions about what to store on the device versus what can be better managed back at the ranch. If your IT group is watching out for you, none of these issues reach you in any material way.
Today doing business on your mobile device requires CRM applications that do all the things that your desktop systems do and then some. For instance, your CRM can generate a list of sales calls for today but your mobile device can marry that data to your location through its GPS service and plot your route.
Most importantly, a mobile device can bring your company to the customer complete with videos and stills of your products as well as the ability to check inventory and place orders. Even when a team member is on the road, that member is still able to access data and update orders and inventory with timely customer information so that everyone has a clear view of where the business is right now.
But all of that is only going to happen if you have the appropriate software on your servers. That means integration between front and back office systems and the ability to shrink the user interface into something useful in your hand. And since your company gave up on dictating what device you could use it also means standards like modern HTML5 based applications that run in whatever browser and operating system you’ve come up with.
If you can set up these basics, and it shouldn’t be that hard if you’re working with the right vendor, then you’ll find yourself free to innovate at the business level and that’s where things get exciting. You can try new approaches to doing business and dealing with customers secure in the knowledge that your supporting technology was made for your nomadic work style.
Ironically, you might not make that many calls from your device today because calls require the other person to be there at the same time. Better to leverage social media, email and texting to asynchronously engage for things like follow up. That’s where the idea of business innovation comes in. Few people could have predicted that your phone would become the hub of asynchronous communication that it now is. But that’s the power and beauty of having a modern business technology stack. You might not know where things are going next but you do know that your device and its mobile applications will adjust as quickly as you do.
(Cross-posted @ Beagle Research, LLC.)