Upgrading Mobile Technology

It is important to periodically update your technology to enable your business to produce more in less time. Upgrading your mobile devices is one aspect of this technology refreshment that you should not ignore.

Your 4-year-old cell phone is no competition for the cell phones of today, which can receive faxes, take photos, and download e-mail. The pagers you have become accustomed to for decades are dinosaurs compared to the multitasking gizmos on the market now. Electronic organizers of the early 1990s could only dream of wireless internet access and running digital presentations like today’s PDAs can.

Although mobile technology is something to be embraced, don’t rush to improve your technology without a clear plan of why you want to upgrade and what the return on investment will be for your enhancement. In fact, Lena L. West, founder and CEO of strategic technology consulting firm xynoMedia Technology, got rid of her cell phone because she was tired of its constant interruptions.

“I felt like everyone had access to me anytime and anywhere. It was stressful and not the best use of my time as CEO,” says West, who prefers using a Dell Latitude D600 equipped with a wireless network card. “Since mobile computing is a part of the technology plans we develop for our clients, we had to create an alternate strategy to fill our internal communication gap. So I opted for wireless access via my laptop.”

Mobile technology allows West to make quicker, more informed decisions with less red tape, which translates into a higher return on investment for her clients. “If I’m not in the office, my assistant can get files to me as needed or I’m able to approve a proposal on the fly,” says West.

Upgrade: Wireless Computingfor Enhanced Customer Service

If you purchased a PDA or notebook computer a few years ago, wireless connectivity is not built into it. Upgrading to a wirelessly enabled notebook or PDA will let you respond more quickly. If you have employees — sales staff, support technicians, or others — who are on the road often, wireless connectivity will enable them to access customer, sales, inventory, or other databases from almost anywhere.

In the office, your employees are no longer tethered to their desks, but can hold impromptu meetings with the convenience of having their data with them, wirelessly connected to the network. Your business will save time and money and gain a large increase in efficiency as you and your staff can communicate with increased flexibility.

As you upgrade your mobile hardware, you might also have to invest in software to connect your mobile workforce to your back-office data. Just having Internet access on your PDA might not be enough if your sales team cannot remotely enter customer information into your customer database.

Upgrade: Get E-mail from Anywhere

Franklin Madison, technology program director for the Industrial and Technology Assistance Corp., is addicted to his BlackBerry 7100t, made by Research in Motion. The BlackBerry 7100 series provides an integrated phone, wireless e-mail, and data exchange. The device gives Madison the ability