Smart Phones & Mobile Apps…Get On Or Get Left Behind!
I have always been into electronic gadgets. My first cell phone in 1985 was hard mounted in my vehicle and the next higher tech version was a bag phone about the size of a woman’s small purse. Neither would be considered a mobile phone by today’s standards. Finally in 1994 I got what I thought was a mobile phone, but you couldn’t wear it on your belt or keep in your pocket, because it was about the size of a brick.
My next phone was a true mobile phone, the Motorola flip phone that included a belt clip. I felt like a gunslinger as I whipped that phone off its clip and flipped it open in one swift motion. After several years and different phones the next big thing from Nextel was a phone that could double as a walkie-talkie that my wife referred to as my “beep-beep” phone.
Imagine my excitement when I heard of a device called a Blackberry – it was a phone, push-to-talk, it could send and receive text messages, and I could even check my email. I was in heaven! When I thought it couldn’t get much better Apple announced a new device called the iPhone and Google introduced the Android, both smart phones of the future.
These new smart phones are much like a Swiss army knife with all the different mobile apps available today. I can remember just a couple years ago we were providing a cell phone, digital camera, GPS device, pocket calculator, and a credit card reader to our service providers and now all these are wrapped up in a small device that can fit your pocket.
When Apple announced the release of the iPhone5 our Sprint rep called and said they were trying to move their existing inventory of iPhone4s. He reported that we could upgrade all of our existing phones that were out of contract for free. Now everyone in the company is using a smart phone.
Communication is vital in our business, so with this new technology we can keep in contact with our installers and service techs by phone, text, email, calendar, and alerts. We just added a new time clock app, so the field employees can clock in and out per job or task and then email the timesheet to the office eliminating the need to come in or have a supervisor collect time cards on a weekly basis.
Our installers can use mobile apps to check the internet for inclement weather, use sizing calculators to design ducts, electrical and gas piping, access installation instructions and building codes. The service technicians can receive service calls via email, use GPS mapping for locations, use diagnostic mobile apps for airflow, capacity, superheat, and sub-cooling, digital camera to record critical information, and a credit card reader to process payments.
My favorite mobile app is Dropbox where we can store company files that can be accessed and viewed from any smart phone or tablet. We use Dropbox to house our company contact list. This document is ever-changing, but now we can edit listings and publish updates to Dropbox quickly and easily so everyone has access to the latest information.
I just read in a news article that sales of smart phones had just surpassed one billion devices worldwide. Apple announced it sold over five million of its new iPhone5 in the first three days of availability and the initial inventory was already sold out. Just this week I read that Samsung has now passed Apple in sales of smart phones. This is an indication of the direction and popularity of smart phones. I’ve had my new iPhone5 for a couple of months now and I’m still like a kid in a candy store.
In today’s mobile environment access to information in the field is essential to be productive. Smart phones and mobile apps provide the tools to respond quicker with solutions to improve performance. Bottom line — the smart phone should be in every installer’s toolbox and on every service technician’s tool belt. Are you ready to hop on the bus and take your company to the next level?
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