Are you ready to mobilise your business?

Are you ready to mobilise your business?The advent of so-called smart technology has transformed the way we live our lives in little more than a decade. Computing tasks which used to require hefty chunks of desktop hardware can now be completed with devices that fit snugly into a pocket. It has changed the way people communicate, socialise and consume, as lives are increasingly led on the move.

If the world has gone mobile, it makes sense for your business to follow the trend. The ability to conduct all kinds of transactions from any place at any time is not merely an issue of keeping up with the Joneses, it is about making use of technology to work in smarter, more efficient ways. As the world speeds up, businesses need to follow suit.

Added Agility

For consumer-facing businesses, it is a matter of keeping up with customer expectations. In a world where people are now used to having the world at the fingertips at the touch of a button, instant response has become the norm. Mobile technology can make your business agile enough to meet those demands.

For B2B-facing operations, mobile offers a new level of efficient, responsive working. Establishing the right kind of communication networks with clients and suppliers means no one need ever be left waiting on a response to an urgent query. Meetings can conducted across huge distances, and orders and requests can be processed the moment the need arises.

Getting set up

The first step to making a business mobile is migrating at least some IT operations onto the cloud. One of the big advantages of cloud computing is that it frees users from having to connect to a physical server in a fixed location; as long as you have internet access, you can perform all of your computing tasks from anywhere. Whether that means using a hosted desktop service or moving all your operations onto a cloud server, it means all aspects of your business are ready to be conducted on the move.

Accessing your business in the cloud whilst on the move also requires the right kind of hardware. Investing in Smart phones and tablets for your mobile workforce makes sense because they are designed specifically for on-the-move use. Touchscreens are far easier to use in transit than even the most slim-fit laptops, whilst having 4G-ready devices is an absolute must if you are to be free of dependence on wi-fi connections.

Increased productivity

The final consideration is making sure that everyone in your mobile team can communicate properly. The ability to make calls and reply to e-mails on the go has been taken for granted for many years now, but mobile technology offers much more.

VoIP services – in a nutshell, communicating directly over an internet connection – have the advantage of costing less than ordinary mobile telephony, whilst also offering video and conference calling on the go simple and straightforward.

If you are interested in learning more about how to mobilise your business, Cloud 4 offers the full range of services you will need. Contact us to find out how our cost-effective services could help to improve your productivity, and your bottom line.

Can Mobile Working Save Your Business?

mobile business apps for productivityBy 2020, half of the world’s workers will be remote workers. That’s according to a survey at the Global Leadership Summit in London. Over the course of the next five years, we’re going to see some big changes. Not every business will keep pace; some will fail.

The global economic crisis continues to put financial pressure on companies, and smaller businesses are still finding it difficult to raise capital. Now more than ever, remote working could be the answer if your business is finding it hard to adapt.

Benefits of Working Remotely

Employees are looking for a good work-life balance, and that means changing the way they work. People don’t want to travel at rush hour with everybody else. They don’t want to put their kids into after-school clubs if they can avoid it. As the world’s best employers offer more flexible working, the world’s best employees will follow.

Sir Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin group, is a vocal supporter of flexible working, and says that remote access is making this easier. Virgin employees can take unlimited holiday leave, providing their productivity is not affected. That means taking time off when you’re not needed, and being around when you are. Richard himself works remotely from Necker Island, a career move that would have been unthinkable before the internet became so widespread.

While we can’t all work from a Caribbean beach, the benefits of remote working can be felt on a smaller scale when working from home. Freedom to choose when to work, where to work, and when to take breaks; the chance to get fresh air, spend more time with the family, or cut back the daily commute. Far from being less productive, remote workers get more rest, are more energised, and feel more connected with their home life, helping them achieve that work-life balance they so crave.

The company gets its share of the benefits too: a workforce willing to work, and staff that enjoy collaboration. Rather than forcing people to fit the company mould, giving them the tools they need to work anywhere means work will often ‘just happen’.

Make it a Reality

You don’t need to have complex infrastructure to let people work remotely. But you do need to invest in modern services that help keep people connected.

Here are some ways to free up your employees and let them work wherever they like:

  • To ensure everyone has access to the right software and data, purchase hosted desktops rather than a fleet of laptops
  • Issue everyone with a smartphone capable of 4G connection, plus a tablet that can be tethered to it
  • Use hosted Exchange email so that employees can access their messages from anywhere, free from the size restrictions of an on-premise Exchange mailbox
  • Invest in VoIP telephony, project management tools in the cloud, and use video conferencing in place of lengthy on-site meetings

All of these things are affordable to small businesses, helping to keep costs down and ensure the company stays competitive.

By kitting out the workforce with cloud services and relevant support, they can access company data in a secure, compliant and speedy manner, without a break in productivity or an increase in IT spend. The reality is this: if you don’t wise up to remote working, your business could be overtaken by the dynamic, youthful competitors just waiting to steal your thunder.

Attention: Your Phone Number Isn’t Working

Businesses do a lot by email these days, but the phone is still a critical tool.  Despite the existence of teleconferencing, video calling and real-time instant messaging, it’s often better to pick up the phone and call.

Through convention, most businesses have acquired geographical or non-geographical numbers pointing to fixed landline phones.  We have also seen a surge of mobile numbers replacing geographical numbers, particularly for businesses who do not work from an office.

But there are some problems with the traditional phone system, and they can result in the competition getting an edge.

The Evolving PBX

Traditionally, businesses have installed PBX systems on premise to handle incoming calls.  An old-fashioned PBX requires engineer visits to achieve most management and maintenance tasks.

If you need more lines, fewer lines, or a repair to the infrastructure, it’s generally going to be an expensive affair.  Phones are hard-wired to desks, and there’s no freedom of movement at all.

This is where VoIP steps in to fill the void.  A hosted PBX is entirely software based, apart from the device you use to answer the call (your laptop, or your phone, in most cases).  So there’s no engineer to call out.  Need a new line?  Add one in a click.  Noticed a fault? Your host is there to fix it, under the terms of your monthly agreement.

Call My Mobile

Naturally, the mobile is more portable.  But with mobile numbers, we have another problem: people don’t trust them.  A landline or geographical number can be traced; it has longevity.  A mobile phone number could be attached to a throwaway pay-as-you-go SIM.  It could be obtained online for free, and disposed of at the end of the week.

For many businesses, mobiles don’t give their business gravitas, or a local presence.  That matters if you’re running an ad campaign and you need people to convert.

Let’s face it: the main reason people like mobiles is that they’re not in a fixed place.  What if you could use your mobile, but advertise a landline?  That’s exactly what VoIP allows you to do.  You can purchase any number of telephone numbers and route them to your mobile, laptop or tablet, providing you’ve purchased an extension for each device or user.  Numbers are available with your own local area code, or another area code, or even another country.

Switch and Save

Changing the fundamentals of your business can be costly, confusing and more hassle than it’s worth.  But if you’re still using a fixed line phone, VoIP is worth the effort.  It will free you from line rental, release you from your desk, and allow you to take more calls as you go about your main line of business.  And, most importantly, it’ll save you money.

If you’re still advertising a mobile number, VoIP’s a no-brainer, too. For a small monthly fee, you could advertise a fixed-line number without giving up the convenience of your smartphone.  And if you’ve got more than one business, you can have as many lines as you need, all pointing to the same place.

Intrigued?  Find out more.  Contact Cloud4 and find out how VoIP could work for you.

Are tablets killing the desktop PC?

IDesktop PC for businessesn the second quarter of 2013, PC shipments suffered a drop in shipment by 10.9%, selling only 76 million units. This slump was caused by the increase of inexpensive android tablets, which provide everything that many PC users need in a cheaper, lighter and smaller form factor. Continue reading Are tablets killing the desktop PC?