How your cell phone is evolving into a business productivity tool
By Dan Burrus
In the early days of cell phones, they were used merely for
talking. Today, cell phones have a myriad of other applications. For
many people, their cell phone is their daily organizer, music
player, camera, GPS system, and news and weather device. But that’s
just the tip of the iceberg. In the very near future, cell phones
will also be people’s banks, credit card, keys, remote control, and
video conferencing platform, just to name a few. Clearly, today’s
cell phones are much more than phones, and tomorrow’s will
revolutionize the business world.
In order to stay competitive and ahead of the curve,
businesses need to look beyond what the cell phone is today and
anticipate where it will be tomorrow. You have to ask yourself, “How
is the cell phone changing my customers?” “What new service could I
deliver on a mobile platform?” Or, “How are these
beyond-voice-capabilities changing my customers’ customers?”
The fact is that if you don’t change with your customers,
they won’t be your customers for much longer. For most businesses,
their customers are changing rapidly. Are you changing and learning
as fast as your customers are? Because today’s technology is rapidly
evolving, you have to go beyond keeping up. Merely keeping up will
cause you to always be behind. Rather, you need to jump ahead based
on what you know will happen.
What do you know will happen? We know there are three driving
forces that create exponential technological change: 1) Processing
power doubles every 18 months as it drops in price, 2) Storage
capacity doubles, and 3) We get faster speeds and higher bandwidth.
Because of the processing power being faster, your cell phone can go
online and perform searches faster. Phone companies are continually
upgrading their network so the 3G network becomes the 4G network. In
less than a year processing power, storage capability, and speed
have all doubled, and next year they will double again, making the
cell phone as powerful as your current desktop computer.
Additionally, businesses need to look at other countries to
see what they’re doing. As Americans, we tend to think we’re the
first with technology, but that isn’t always the case (and it’s
definitely not the case with cell phones). Whereas we have multiple
standards for cell phone technology, many other countries have one
national standard so everyone’s phone works the same way. As such,
they can roll out new cell phone innovations much faster than we
Culture also plays a big role. The Japanese culture, for
example, loves their devices and prefers using them over
face-to-face conversation. So they have more cultural incentive to
unveil the next cell phone use.
The bottom line is smart businesses will start seeing the
certainty of technological change of cell phones and will recognize
the opportunities that lie within. Following are some current and
coming cell phone uses you need to be aware of and using.
Currently, some airports allow you to use your cell phone as
your boarding pass. You simply download your boarding pass to
your phone. When you approach security, you pull up the barcode
of your virtual boarding pass and swipe your cell phone under
security’s scanner. You can then go through security and board
your plane without a paper ticket. Such technology saves your
employees’ time when traveling and eliminates the last minute
“where did I put my boarding pass” search.
You probably already have music on your cell phone, and you may
even have television programming. But now businesses can
disperse training and education to employees as part of that
mobile media. So while an employee is waiting in an airport for
a flight, she can download the latest training information right
from her phone.
Need to know where your salespeople or delivery drivers are at
all times? We all have triangulation or GPS as part of our cell
phones. There are programs, such as Looped for the iPhone that
allow you, with permission, to bring up a map and see where your
employees are located right now. Granted, this program was
developed for personal use, so that friends and family could see
where each other are, but there’s no reason why a business
couldn’t use it to locate employees, drivers, or anyone else who
leaves the office for extended periods of time.
In the near future, you’ll be able to do banking on your cell
phone, such as doing money transfers to other people. How do we
know this? Because other countries are already doing it. For
example, in Kenya, where we assume everything is behind the
times, they have a mobile phone system where if someone owes you
money, he can use his cell phone to transfer money from his
account to yours. As the technology makes its way to the States,
cell phones will become a vital part of people’s banking.
There are places in the world where you can pay for your
restaurant, auto service, groceries, parking meters, or any
other item with your cell phone – without using a credit card.
You’re simply using your mobile phone to pay for the
transaction. To prevent fraud, cell phones will have biometric
ID capabilities that can detect everything from the user’s
fingerprint to voice pattern and facial recognition. Such
measures are actually far more secure than using a credit card.
As mega stores dominate the landscape, shoppers need more access
to customer service personnel. Imagine a customer being in a
huge warehouse type store and being able to use her cell phone
to pull up a map of the store and locate the nearest customer
service person. Or, even better, imagine that customer being
able to touch an icon on her cell phone screen, which
automatically lets the customer service rep know where she is
and that she needs help. The technology to do this exists today;
it’s simply a matter of businesses applying it to this scenario.
Imagine the competitive advantage you’d gain if you were the
first to roll this concept out.
for tomorrow’s cell phones are limitless: Mobile data … mobile media
… mobile finance … mobile commerce … mobile health … mobile
marketing … mobile security … mobile location services – these are
just the beginning. Over the next few years, cell phone apps
(applications) will grow exponentially as well. We’ll see apps for
specific segments, such as doctors, lawyers, real estate agents,
etc. To stay ahead, your company needs to develop internal tools or
apps for your employees that can give your organization competitive
advantage, such as an app so salespeople can access key data right
on their phone. Developing an app is relatively inexpensive and can
work on iPhones, Blackberries and Smartphones.
Ultimately, as we move into the future of cell phone technology, the
goal is to get businesspeople to not just crisis manage in the
present, but to opportunity manage for the future. When you can
start viewing your cell phone in that capacity, you’ll be connected
to a whole new world of business that can make a significant impact
on your company’s bottom line.
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