Here in the US, we are tied to our mobile devices. But are we really them to their full potential? Probably not. We use them for games, social media, and banking, But in other parts of the country, mobile is everything. It's the primary computing paradigm with desktops being the added conveniences. As time and technology progress, mobile will transition to becoming the predominant computing platform the world over.
Already, we're seeing the effect of mobile on how business is done throughout the world. During the time when fix location was king, field agents were hamstrung by insufficient support and inadequate mobile infrastructure. Today, managing your on-the-go team is much easier, but comes with its own challenges. If you are running a support business, choosing the right field-service software might be the toughest challenge of all.
That said, the ability to manage your mobile operations efficiently is one of the greatest advancements enabled by the mobile revolution. Here are a few others that are already being utilized in many places, and are ready for testing in your own small business:
Mobile Payments and Money Transfers
In June 2017, Apple announced their iOS 11 initiative to include peer-to-peer money transfers in the Messages app. Far from being the first, they join a long line of companies already carving out their space in this aspect of mobile usage.
This is one of those places where useful mobile apps can really help. Mobile workers have long been able to invoice on location. But modern mobile advances enable them to accept payments on the spot, greatly reducing receivables. It won't be long before peer-to-peer payments are included.
The World Bank reports a massive drop in the number of unbanked people around the world. Mobile technology is credited for the advancement:
Between 2011 and 2014, the percentage of adults with an account increased from 51 percent to 62 percent, a trend driven by a 13 percentage point rise in account ownership in developing countries and the role of technology. In particular, mobile money accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa are helping to rapidly expand and scale up access to financial services.
It's become more common to send most digital remittances via mobile money. The only relationship many people have with banking services is through mobile devices. This is a trend that simply wasn't possible before the advent of ubiquitous mobile devices and connectivity.
Local Discovery via Search and Mapping
Desktop search engines have been with us for a long time. But search has evolved to accommodate more mobile usage. If you get a flat tire in the middle of Colorado, a desktop search isn't exactly possible. Furthermore, mobile search is useless if the top hit is auto repair in Arizona. I use mobile search almost every day to look up new businesses.
Local SEO helps ensure relevant results to people whenever and wherever they happen to be searching. That means if someone is on a road trip, the search results for restaurants will change based on location. Local businesses become much more discoverable.
This is most prominent in smartphone mapping apps. It's less about getting from point A to point B and more about finding what's in your immediate area. Type in “gas,” and you'll get the nearest gas stations. It's like having a pocket-sized phone book that changes based on where you are and what you want, without having to pay for placement. This makes every business more discoverable to anyone with a mobile device, and a need for your particular services.
Uber uses an advanced form of this to mobilize their fleet around the world. When someone needs a ride, they're automatically routed to the nearest available driver. No human dispatch is needed. It's the ultimate blend of search and mapping producing unparalleled field service efficiency. There's no reason this wouldn't work equally well for utility workers and installation professionals.
These days, communications are so secure on iPhones that the government has to get help from Apple to access old backups. That said, even Apple can’t get into newer iPhones running the latest OS. Their mobiles are software and hardware encrypted out of the box. At work, someone recently found a lost iPad. We couldn't do anything to find out who it belonged to other than call and see if Apple had a way to contact the owner. And, with iCloud locking, a finder is not able clear an iPad's data to use it as their own. This means that the lost iPad essentially becomes a useless brick.
While Google decided to leave its messaging app unencrypted, users can actively change the settings to something more secure. Furthermore, third-party developers are offering applications for secure communications. What’s App officials have been arrested in some countries for not producing a backdoor for governments to access user communications. This more secure communication is a product of the mobile revolution.
Greater privacy means greater freedom of communication between field agents and the home office. Trade secrets can easily be compromised over text. But mobile communication apps that provide end to end encryption have revolutionized how field agents communicate.
Not all advances are monumental. But there are a few standouts for business. Mobile payments are changing the way people access money and do business in developing nations. Local discovery is giving new life to businesses that would have otherwise faded into obscurity. And sensitive communications are safer thanks to smartphones. In every way that matters, mobile means business.