They may have initially just seemed like a way to get on the internet when you’re out and about – giving you access to Twitter and email no matter where you are – but smartphones have been steadily finding more niche applications.
Almost every day there seem to be stories of iPhones being issued to medical students or sound engineers mixing from anywhere in the building. Business is no exception. Here are just a few ways those little touch screen computers in employees’ pockets can increase efficiency.
The most obvious efficiency savings to come from mobiles is in making use of cloud storage. By placing all important data in the cloud rather than on local hard drives, employees have access to all the data they need at all times.
More than just having access to email while on a train (for example), this means that employees no longer have to take time transferring pertinent documents to their mobile device, or even printing them out, but instead can look them up on the fly.
Electronic signature capture using a smartphone means that whenever a signature is required – for a delivery or inspection say – this requires a) no paper and b) no specialist device.
Even better, using the right software, the signature can be automatically uploaded to the cloud into the appropriate folder making it both immediately available for viewing and already filed.
Some signature capture solutions also allow other visual data such as photos to be attached, perfect for logging job completion.
Mobile workforce management
Mobile workforce management is quite a broad term that encompasses a lot of things. It really ties in with the growing trend for remote and flexible working. In most organisations this will require a certain amount of paperwork to log things like time spent, jobs completed, meetings attended, sites visited, mileage accrued and so on.
All of this data can now be logged on a mobile handset and uploaded to a cloud server when an internet connection is present. Some of it, such as mileage, can even be collected automatically using the phone’s on-board GPS capability.
Obviously this removes a huge amount of paperwork, and again, by being placed directly on the cloud this can be made accessible to the relevant parties at both business and client level almost in real-time, cutting down on administration costs for filing, making copies and so on.
The employees of the corresponding administration can be provided with contract mobile phones for this purpose.
Cutting down on travel
Some organisations have found that one of the natural consequences of shifting paperwork and reports to mobiles and the cloud is a reduction in travel time and costs. Put simply, by removing the need for physical paperwork, employees working in the field have to spend less time (and mileage) travelling to and from the office to file paperwork.
So not only can using smartphones improve the accuracy of mileage calculation and cut down on administration in claiming the expense, but it can actually reduce the mileage accrued.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for mobile use in business. Just like the medical professionals and sound engineers already mentioned, there are already so many bespoke applications becoming available for particular sectors.
Nick is a tech writer for signature capture specialists GoMobilize.