Making the Move from Laptops to Smartphones
When moving field sales, service staff and management over to mobile devices, apply the following nine best practices to achieve the lowest TCO, easiest maintenance and highest level of productivity:
Best practice No. 1: Consolidate users to a single voice and data device rather than have them use both a laptop and a smartphone. This step helps reduce connectivity costs and cuts Internet expenses for those with both a laptop and a mobile device.
Best practice No. 2: Determine the best operating systems for your organization and limit choices. The market is still open with BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian OS (Nokia), iPhone and now the gPhone, and other consumer-oriented devices entering the market. Employees will demand their favorite platform, so IT shops should establish a plan and determine appropriate devices or rogue users will increase exponentially.
Best practice No. 3: Establish a corporate plan with your local telecom carrier. This enables your company to share voice and data minutes among mobile users, centralize billing, reduce staff time spent on administrative tasks (such as consolidating phone bills for expenses), and receive centralized support for standardized devices.
Best practice No. 4: Deploy appropriate mobile applications. Whether taking existing desktop applications and mobilizing them, or observing what mobile applications would help a field person perform better, be sure to determine which tools would best suit the users' needs. To make the best decision, evaluate how they work, the types of information they need, and how they interact with customers and colleagues.
Best practice No. 5: Ensure that the mobile device allows for working in common applications they use in the business, including Microsoft Office (or Office-like) applications for standard quotes, proposals and reports.
Best practice No. 6: Determine whether the mobile device supports both cellular and Wi-Fi networks to reduce data transmission costs. In addition, if your field sales team is constantly traveling to new meeting locations, make sure their devices are equipped with a GPS application. For world travelers, make sure the devices support roaming in both GSM and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks.
Best practice No. 7: If users will be typing heavily, they'll need a mobile device with a keyboard. Do your research, as each device handles text input differently. Keyboard styles include the "virtual keyboard on the screen," the "thumb keyboard" and the "slide-out, full keyboard."
Best practice No. 8: Depending on the size of deployment, corporate servers may need to be implemented and targeted to smartphones, such as a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Larger organizations may require planning and deployment, including dedicated servers and firewalls for application communication and wireless Web browsing.
Best practice No. 9: Consider the impact on your IT department. Ensure that the chosen platform is compatible with internal systems such as your e-mail system and other line-of-business applications. Your IT group will be responsible for deploying operating system and application updates to the mobile devices, sending device refreshes and wiping the device of all company-specific data in the event of loss. Each of the mobile operating systems has different levels of server and device management tools available for them.