Businesses of all sizes are working with technology in new and innovative ways. It has transformed the way we all do business. The internet alone has changed the landscape for small businesses and the self-employed. Marketing strategies now include digital marketing campaigns far more than TV, print, or radio. Most importantly, it has revolutionized the way we work.
Remote working has become the norm for many of us. Businesses no longer need to recruit employees from their local town. Instead, they pay self-employed people to undertake tasks and projects remotely from all over the world. There are no taxes to pay, no benefits packages to budget for, and most importantly, no pension pots to sustain. Thanks to technology the cost of doing business has reduced dramatically for many.
But it is perhaps those entrepreneurs building mobile businesses that have seen the biggest changes. As mobile technologies and connection speeds are boosted, it is easier than ever to work from anywhere, even on the go. This connectivity keeps administration up to date, customer communications live, and project notes accurate. Here are just a few of the mobile businesses that are utilizing tech on the go:
Consultants need to be available for consultation at any time that suits the client. This means that mobile technologies are essential. From the humble cell phone to video conferencing apps, tech will play a part in this role. Even hand-written diagrams and notes can be captured digitally. They are then shared globally almost instantly as required. Cloud services provide all the storage needed to keep any consultant secure yet accessible.
Devices like the Lenovo Yoga Book or Microsoft’s Surface Pro mean handwritten or voice recorded notes can be stored side by side. They can all be part of the same project file. Each of these can be shared instantly, making collaborative working practical and effective. A consultant needs to oversee and edit many documents when working with a client. It makes sense to have them available instantly. There is always the option to share them visually on a larger screen, or privately in a consultation.
Food Wagons and Caterers
Food sales from a van have always been the business choice of small caterers. These businesses rarely worry much about security or technology. The food is often prepackaged, and the van drives to the customer. Selling products from a van might seem like a simple affair, but these days things have changed. For a start, cash is no longer the preferred method of payment. Even the humble coffee vendor is finding that card payments are becoming the norm.
Contactless payments mean even the card is no longer handled by the food vendor. This can reduce the risk of food contamination enormously. But there are far more opportunities for the caterer. Now orders can arrive in-app or via a messaging system. Maps or satellite navigation to the address are helping everyone from the food wagon to the pizza deliverer. Stock can be checked and supplies ordered should sales be up, all from the comfort of the passenger seat.
Security of these devices might be a bigger problem than expected. After all, snack wagons tend to be dispatched and held in less than desirable locations. Even the kiosk-style business is using mobile devices and services but may find themselves at greater risk of theft. Companies like Dynatect have new aluminum roll-up doors for these types of businesses. You can see some of the options to suit food wagons and kiosks on their ‘browse our store’ web page. It’s important to pick the right door for full functionality and security of your mobile business. These days, it’s unlikely you could trade ‘normally’ if your tech were stolen, if only for the day!
Many holistic therapists operate from a room that is rented for the day to cover their appointments. Some also work from a dedicated room in their home. But more and more are finding a market in the corporate workplace. Massages and relaxation techniques are proving very popular. Some businesses hire therapists to come to the office. They might need a van to carry their table and equipment. Sometimes they even use the van to deliver their therapies.
Again, security might be a problem as it becomes more apparent that you have high-tech equipment stored in a vehicle. Lockable containers or hidden office furniture can be ideal in this situation. It is essential that the therapist takes detailed medical histories. You might use your devices and apps to generate scans or photograph areas for later comparisons. That data must be protected no matter what. Highly secure encryption and cloud services should be used whenever you process personal data.
The humble IT technician has found life is a lot easier on the road with the use of technology. The irony of the job in the past was the need to fill out paper forms that are then photocopied and posted back to the client. These days, detailed client files can be created and shared digitally quickly and easily. Customized apps allow multiple technicians to follow a client’s service history.
On the road, client visits can be altered, updated or changed in any way. Simply change the details in the satnav app, and the technician will be redirected with no disruption or cost of time. It means that the office is no longer needed. Like the consultant, a base or regular place of work simply isn’t needed. This gives the IT service technician far more freedom to work the hours that are required.
Security companies often service, maintain and monitor CCTV, entry logins, and security gates. These days, much of this service can be offered from anywhere. With fast mobile internet access, that service might be delivered from the comfort of home. Or maybe somewhere on the perimeter of the business premises. Live video feeds mean the action can be monitored during a response to increase safety. An appropriate response can also be delivered as the situation changes.
Closed circuits for video are rare these days. It is simply easier and more convenient to use a secure cloud server and host for the feed. Alerts can be texted, phoned through or emailed automatically. Most importantly, response times can be much quicker and safer. If a criminal is discovered, the police response can also login to end the situation swiftly.
An event planner tends to spend more of their time at the event venue than they do in any permanent base or office. They need to take portfolios of their work and purchase options with them when they meet a client. Videos posted to social media can help client view these things before, during, or after their appointment with the event planner. Ordering can be completed online. Of course, many event planners like offering a more personal service. They want to be present to upsell or enhance the purchase experience.
Plumbers and electricians may receive several emergency calls each day. Response times need to be quick, and they need to have the right equipment on hand to deal with every emergency. Of course, to complete every job they might come across could mean they need a huge semi truck! But if the customer can photograph the problem or video what is going on, then that tradesperson will know better what to bring with them.
Once on the job, further photos as evidence of problems or fixes can be taken and shared instantly. This can help to speed up insurance claims and can help a customer understand what the bill is for. As with many of the other mobile businesses discussed, satellite navigation apps make sure the quickest route is selected. This serves for every callout. Shared customer data means up-to-date notes and details can be checked.
Taxis, Public Transport, Couriers and Logistics
Perhaps the business sectors most affected by technologies are the taxi and courier sectors. These days, self-employed drivers can log into a simple app, register their details and become a worker in their spare time. Their workload pops up on the app, complete with details and directions. Some of them have time limits, others work on a piece by piece system. Some of the most famous of these include Uber.
Of course, mobile technology works to bring public transport and commercial transport systems up to speed. Beyond providing directions and timings, customers can also track the vehicle’s progress. Delays can be instantly shared, and customer services can send out apologies or refunds quickly and easily. Algorithms in the apps can recalculate arrival times instantly. They can reroute vehicles that are traveling toward traffic hotspots.
Mobile technologies have opened up new ways of working for mobile businesses. In fact, they have contributed to new types of business, and a surge in self-employed people and entrepreneurs. The humble company website might be where it all began. But apps and connectivity have helped to make every company more personable and accessible. Who would have thought that would apply to the very businesses that were already mobile?
On The Move: Protecting Your Portable Tech
Portable technology is now something we take for granted in our everyday lives. We need our mobile phone alarm to wake us up in the morning, an app to pre-order our morning coffee and the sat nav to plan our best route to work. You don’t realise how much you truly depend on your smartphone, tablet and laptop. Try to envision spending one day without any of them. Pretty impossible, isn’t it? Now imagine the disaster of losing one of your much-loved gadgets. Not only will you be lost without it, but you’ll be facing an abundance of privacy issues. Kit yourself out with the latest security measures and accessories for your devices and take a step towards ultimate cyber safety.
Your phone is the metaphoric key into your entire life. It keeps your work schedule in order, maintains contact numbers and even tells you when it’s going to rain. You wouldn’t leave your diary lying around in public without a lock on it, so take the same precautions with your phone too. Create a unique passcode to up the security on your phone and tablet. Many devices have a fingerprint recognition system too, which is an excellent additional security resource.
Think about the scribbles you leave lying around on scraps of paper at work or the notes you keep written down in your phone. If you write down a password anywhere you’re literally handing your personal privacy out on a plate. It can be frustrating keeping track of the abundance of passwords for different accounts, but don’t store them in the obvious place. If your phone contains a list of all your passwords get rid of them right now! If someone were to hack into your phone, not only have they got free reign of your contacts list, but they could also gain access to your banking details and other financial information. Shield your wallet by only using online banking at home over a secured Wi-Fi network too. Never log into your bank account on public transport either. You never know who might be peering over your shoulder and memorising your details.
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There are some extremely clever apps out there which are free to install on your phone or portable device. Apps such as ‘Find My Phone’ have proved to be an invaluable tool when it comes to keeping track of your portable possessions. There are also some ingenious accessories that are trackable too, such as a powerbank. This nifty contraption can charge your mobile phone on the move and also be traced via Bluetooth. If you happen to lose your phone whilst it’s charging, you’ll have double the chance of locating it with this useful accessory.
The most sensible security measure you can use is free of charge and available at all times. It’s your instincts. Even if you take all necessary precautions to password protect and meticulously track your devices, you are ultimately the one responsible for keeping your devices out of harm’s way. If you don’t need to use your phone or laptop, put it away. Don’t make yourself a target and keep your wits about you.