Business on the Go — Setting Up Your Mobile Office

I finally switched to a smartphone a few years ago when my travel really picked up. I needed to have access to emails wherever I was and I didn’t always want to carry my laptop.

I was thinking about that the other day, and how it’s not uncommon for me to Skype with colleagues from my smartphone, which means I’m not tethered to my desk.

What else do you need to ensure your business can be mobile?

Consider the devices you will need.

A smartphone means you will have access to many apps. I already mentioned Skype. I also have apps for the airlines I fly most frequently. This is helpful if my flight is cancelled and I need to rebook. I also can find out what gate I need to get to instead of craning over heads at the monitors.

Laptops are ideal for businesses on the go, but they’re almost obsolete now as tablets have taken center stage. Although tablets aren’t always easy to use for lots of typing, if you purchase the add-on keyboard, it greatly enhances your productivity. I was all set to replace my laptop that is way too many years old. Now, though, I think I’ll hold onto it and buy a tablet instead. I still like a laptop as the screen is slightly larger making it ideal for home use. If you aren’t sure which table or laptop to buy check out this recent article.

Another device you will want is a wireless printer so you can print from any of your devices.

If you travel frequently, you may want to purchase a mobile hotspot, a device you can purchase from any cellular company that is less than the size of a pack of playing cards. It allows you to connect to the internet when a free WIFI connection is not available. There is usually no contract and you purchase what you need. If you are only using email or browsing the Web, then you won’t use much data. Downloading and streaming means high data usage and more costs. If you don’t purchase enough, you will have the option to purchase more or the session will close if you don’t.

Other things to consider for your mobile office include the operating system you plan to use (Windows or Mac), the type of calendar you will use and how to merge personal and professional calendars to keep everything straight. You should also look at GPS for getting to and from meetings. While this list is by no means complete it should get you started.

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Measuring Mobile’s Might

The other night, I went out to dinner with a friend. After we had paid, the waiter provided us with a receipt and the opportunity to get $5 off our next meal by completing a survey about his service. Instead of waiting to get home and go online, we completed the survey in the restaurant on our smart phone.

Americans spend a lot of time on their phones, and marketers want to know who exactly is using them and how.  An important question is where are customers using mobile and where in the lifecycle are they using mobile.

For example, I often use my smart phone in a store to comparison shop by checking a price. If the price is right, I will make the purchase in the store. I’m not alone in doing this. Turns out 16 percent of customers use mobile to compare prices while in a store.

Another way I use mobile is when I’m looking at a catalog while watching TV. When I find an item I want to purchase, I use my phone’s browser to connect and buy.

“When you are able to find out this information you can prioritize your improvements and benchmark your performance,” says Eric Feinberg of ForeSee, who writes for his company’s blog.

As mobile experiences continue to improve, so will the value of smart phones in our lives.

4 Ways to Better Reach Mobile Audiences

I can’t imagine life without my smart phone.

If I have a question, I simply look it up via the browser. If there is something I want to photograph it, I use the camera on the phone. I’ve got an app so that I can swipe and go when I’m at Starbucks.

Don’t take my word for it, though. A December 2011 report indicated that consumers now spend 94 minutes on their mobile versus 72 minutes for the Web. Smart devices such as smart phones and tablets now outsell desktops and laptops.

What does all this mean? Communicators need to think about how they are conveying information, says Mike Hart, president of ComDesigns. Here are four tips to do just that:

  1. Write better headlines that immediately convey the focus of the content.
  2. Provide info-graphics, which makes the information more easily understood.
  3. Offer compelling videos. It’s true, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  4. Write fewer words. People aren’t going to scroll to find information and they don’t want lots of background.

Mobile Device Usage Up Big in 2010

Opera’s November State of the Mobile Web report reflects on a year of growth for the mobile Internet, with users browsing an incredible 340 billion pages in the first 11 months of 2010. (Opera is a mobile web browser developer).

With more than 80 million users in November, the yearly trends reflect a user base spanning teenagers with smart phones in Western Europe to users of basic feature phones in developing countries.

And now NFPW is joining the trend. We have our own mobile website. In the next few weeks it will work so that if you type nfpw.org on your smart phone it will automatically know to go to the mobile site.

Why did we do this? Because those who are growing up with mobile are not going to take the time to go to a computer and then go to the NFPW website. This way we can keep our information visible to all members. Many companies have mobile sites, too. It’s still not clear how companies will be able to capitalize on mobile usage but they’ll have it figured out before long.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about mobile, here’s a link to the mobile trends for 2011.