“How did we ever live without the Internet?” Whenever I hear someone say that, I always think back to my college days and poring through periodicals in the library to finish a research paper. Now, of course, the immediacy of wireless technology permeates our lives. In the 2013 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, 66 percent of small businesses say they can’t survive without it … almost like oxygen.
Your company likely uses wireless communications in a variety of ways: sending emails, maintaining a website, selling products or services, conducting market research, etc. While these are a great start, are you seizing every opportunity to improve employee productivity, reduce costs and grow your business? Consider these four questions to see how you stack up:
The days of sending work files by email are fading fast. A more efficient way is to store documents in the cloud. Doing this helps you know you’re always accessing the latest version. More importantly, staff members can work together on a file in real time, no matter where they are. For example, an in-house assistant and a salesperson on the road can finish a client presentation while you review and approve it from your laptop or mobile device.
You and your employees probably use an electronic calendar, which makes it easier to schedule meetings and send alerts when one approaches. If you haven’t linked (or “synced”) the calendars of everyone in your company, consider doing so. This lets employees see each other’s appointments and schedule meetings with little or no back and forth. No longer must your team wait until everyone is in the same room to get a job done. Instead, they can use videoconferencing and meet online. And they can use just about any device to participate, even if they’re sitting in a hotel or walking down the street.
A surprising number — 69 percent — of small businesses don’t use the Internet or a computer network to back up their data to a remote location, according to 2012 research by AT&T. Working in the cloud helps make your documents more secure since they’re backed up automatically to remote servers. Also, look for a provider with a complete range of security features, including a strong firewall, sophisticated encryption and filters for viruses and other malware.
You need to provide secure lines of communication when employees are away from the office. One way to do this is through a virtual private network (VPN). This allows team members to share documents and information as quickly and safely as if they were using an office server. The latest generations of VPNs perform well with mobile technology, too, so your employees can work from nearly any location just as if they were in your place of business.