Thinking Smart About Smartphones & Business

It’s no secret that SmartPhones are taking over in terms of convenient and easy to use tools for employees on the move. What is surprising though, is that construction companies are in the top 10 percent of industries making these gadgets part of their day-to-day operations.

In a study conducted last year by by Constructech, 81 percent of construction companies surveyed were using SmartPhones for tasks in the field. Particularly interesting about this high of a percentage is that only 69 percent of these same companies use laptops in the field. This means that SmartPhone technology isn’t just replacing a bigger, clunkier computer, it is actually streamlining different operations that were being conducted in other ways before these pocket-sized lifesavers came along. You may be thinking it’s surprising that not 100 percent of construction companies are using SmartPhones outside of the office, but it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a reflection of how many companies have SmartPhones, but rather how many are using them for tasks in the field.

SmartPhones have been around for a number of years now, but prior to the explosion of the iPhone app marketplace in 2008/2009, there hadn’t been a lot of off-the-shelf applications available. Before this time, if you were performing business functions more complicated than emailing on a SmartPhone, it had to be a simple web form, or a custom written application. Only in the last few years?and primarily only on the iPhone and Android platforms?has it been affordable and accessible to truly conduct business functions on a SmartPhone. In the survey, Tablets came in a distant third, with only 26 percent of the companies utilising them in the field. We wouldn’t be surprised if this stat rose substantially in the coming years, however, as Tablet technology really starts to evolve.

Over the next three to five years there is no doubt that mobile devices are going to become an integral part of everyday operations in the field for most businesses, but certain consideration should be made before you jump on board. For example, the players that are currently relevant may not be tomorrow (Blackberry, anyone?), the overlap between work and personal use is difficult to track resulting in issues around billing, jobsite WiFi may need to be introduced as data use increases, security risks automatically increase when all that information leaves the office and IT costs will likely go up. This isn’t to say that they aren’t simple ways around all of these concerns.

It’s up to you whether you lead the charge and capitalize on the competitive edge that mobile business operations can currently give you, or whether you follow behind and slowly adapt to the inevitable shift. We say take the lead and be smart about the role of SmartPhones in your business.