Don't Let Your Smartphone Kill Productivity
They do so much--browsing the web, showing streaming video, hosting apps--that it's tempting to waste time playing with them. Take a hard look at how many of your employees really need a smartphone to stay productive. For those who don't, downgrading to a "feature" phone--basically any model that's not described as a smartphone--might make sense. Many feature phones--a category that includes what's often called messaging phones--can support a basic e-mail app. If "push" e-mail is a must-have, check with your carrier to see if they offer a service that works with feature phones, or consider a third-party solution, such as Synchronica's Mobile Gateway Enterprise Edition. Feature phones and their data plans tend to be significantly less expensive than their smart counterparts. The upshot: Low-cost e-mail connectivity increases productivity.
Upgrade Your Smartphone--If It Makes Sense
If there are things you want to do or apps you want to use that your current model can't accommodate, it's probably time to invest in a new model. The good news: App developers and wireless carriers frequently support models that are a generation or two old, such as Windows Mobile 5.0 (circa 2005), so an old model might be just fine. And don't overlook the network technology factor. For example, if a new smartphone means you now can do web conferencing from the field--such as with AT&T's Connect Mobile app for the iPhone and BlackBerry--that productivity gain could make a business case for upgrading.
Guard Against Prying Eyes
What happens if you or your employee loses a smartphone full of contacts, files and other sensitive information? For starters, use the keypad lock that most smartphones include. Sure, requiring a passcode to access the phone won't stop a determined hacker, but it's highly effective against casual prying eyes. Next, check with your smartphone's manufacturer or your wireless carrier to see if they offer a service where you can remotely lock and erase the memory of a phone that's been lost or stolen. (One example is the Palm Pre.) There are also apps you can buy, such as Corsoft Warden and Sprite Terminator.
Use Apps to Avoid Procrastination
They can be a highly effective way to maximize what otherwise would be downtime, making your office time more productive, too. Some examples:
- Mobile receipt software--such as Mitek Systems' $4.99 Mobile Receipt--uses your smartphone's camera to scan paper receipts and then enter the information into your expense report.
- Track billable time from your smartphone using apps such as AT&T's AIRTIME Manager and Responsive Software's Time Logger.
Reduce Paper and the Waste That Comes With It
For example, instead of spending time deciphering handwriting or typing in handwritten notes later on, look for apps that convert paper forms to digital so they can be filled out in the field from a smartphone. Two examples are Skysoft Systems' inForm and TrueContext's ProntoForms.
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