Mobile Technology in Business. Is It A Game Changer?
Mobile Technology in Business. Is It A Game Changer?
Mobile technology refers to portable technological devices. These are devices that can be moved or transported from one place to the other. Such devices include laptops and netbook computers, personal digital assistants, mobile phones, wireless debit and credit card payment terminals and global positioning system (GPS) devices. Such devices can be enabled to use a variety of communication techniques including wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) which is a type of local area network technology, Bluetooth which connects mobile devices wirelessly and dial up services which are data networking services that use modems and telephone lines. Additionally there are virtual private networks which secure access to private networks, third generation (3G) which is a global system for all mobile communications and general packet radio service (GPRS) that networks services for mobile phones. The above communication technologies are what essentially contribute to changes in business practices.
Over the years, there has been a rapid transformation from traditional office oriented business practices to the emerging trend of incorporating mobile technology. This is made possible by the fact that one can network a mobile device to an office from home or while on transit. This means that one does not have to be in an office in order to transact business as the onset of mobile technology has created room for other possibilities. Businesses are fast adopting this feature in a bid to make their practices easier and less time consuming. Its incorporation into business activities is definitely changing the rules of the game, more so in terms of productivity. This paper seeks to ascertain the fact that truly mobile technology in business is a game changer. This is done by evaluating how it has transformed businesses and its benefits if infused into a business’ functions (Mobile Solutions – the ultimate game changer, 2013).
Mobile technology is a recent feature in global businesses. Previously, the mode of running a business can be said to have been conventional, in that there were certain rules and procedures to be followed (Kooser, 2013). One such procedure demanded the physical presence of business persons. Furthermore, business premises were almost mandatory for every serious businessperson. This business environment proved to be very demanding and some people would shy away from setting up businesses because of their demanding nature. The fact that one had to be physically present meant that no other activity could be conducted at the same time. This point to the time consuming aspect of businesses before the emergence of business technology. It was a humongous task to be able to manage two or more businesses at the same time and those who did so were often feted for their achievement.
In the 1990’s, few people had personal computers and the internet was still unknown. Mobile phones at this time had yet to pick up but since their inception, these three types of technological advancements have fundamentally changed the face of business worldwide (Cole, 2012). As afore-mentioned, mobile technology is a recent incorporation into businesses world over. This is not only for the office environment but also for primary industries such as the agricultural and construction sectors (Hegeman, 2012). Many of today’s leading companies have built their business around mobile technology, including Microsoft, Apple and Google among others. With this in mind it is clear that mobile technology brought with it a host of new possibilities and advantages. Though not without a few disadvantages, the benefits are more noteworthy thus making it a must have for businesses everywhere.
There are several ways in which mobile technology has transformed businesses. One major change is in the reduction of time wasted especially during decision making and in communication. Time can now be used efficiently among staff due to real time communication (Brans, 2003). As opposed to the time when communication could only be done slowly through departmental heads, all it takes now is a networking strategy that allows mangers to reach all employees at once (Evans, 2002). Internal memorandums are becoming a thing of the past as a tool for communication as all this can be incorporated into wireless technology. Mobile technology allows businesses to have an unprecedented level of connectivity between its employers, employees and other stakeholders.
Once everyone has a mobile device, communication is made easier as it only requires wireless connection. Additionally, due to the interactive aspect of mobile technology, information sharing through this medium enables businesses to get immediate feedback from customers on their products and services. This has helped in enhancing product development as research can now be done faster in tandem with customers’ reviews on products and any improvements made. Speed and accessibility of feedback from customers have helped businesses in staying ahead of their competitors by upgrading their products at a much faster rate.
The office environment is fading as it is no longer necessary for business to be conducted only in an office setting. Employers and their staff need not be at the office to delegate or receive tasks. If any decisions have to be made, a conference call or internet connection may serve to connect those involved in the decision making process. Minutes of meetings conducted can be viewed instantly via phone or through emails (Gutiérrez, 2007). Because of this, multitasking has become common among business people. One can be elsewhere other than the office and still manage to carry out their required duties and responsibilities. Those that previously thought it impossible to have more than one business can now do so due to the reduced workload that mobile technology brings.
A new dimension in marketing and advertising has been introduced into businesses worldwide due to mobile technology. Currently global businesses are enlisting their products and services in social networks in an effort to reach out to more people. Social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook which came about through the internet revolution are fast becoming platforms of advertising for many businesses. Furthermore companies and businesses can opt to use native applications such as websites to enable direct communication with their target audiences. There are many company based websites which contain details of their operations, goals and products, most of which are edited over time to incorporate new trends. Advertisements need not only be done through the internet but also other varieties of technologies including text messaging, mobile applications, banner advertisements and QR codes. Additionally, these advertisements can be customized to reach a specific target audience. This serves as an effective marketing tool. Through these mediums, customers’ exposure to advertisements is increased (Elleithy et al, 2013).
Commercial activities have also changed as a result of mobile technology. The most notable transformation is that of e-commerce which enables business transactions to be carried out electronically (Tassabehji, 2003). Previously such transactions were tiresome as they involved going to the bank for withdrawals and deposits. Currently there is the use of debit and credit cards which make the transactions much easier. Other changes in commerce include mobile ticketing which enables purchase of tickets using mobile technology. Vouchers, coupons and loyalty cards can also be distributed through mobile technology, which are represented by a virtual token. A customer that produces this token at the point of sale is accrued the same benefits as if they had the traditional physical token (Chandy, 2013).
Content purchase and delivery which features mobile ringtones and wallpapers is also possible and has evolved into a fully fledged business of buying and delivering full-length music tracks, books and videos among others. Services that could only be offered at a business location are now given to customers using mobile technology. These include discount offers, tracking of people, traffic reporting and local weather and news (Mennecke et al, 2002). Information and services are made available to customers with mobile phones and portable computers with regard to business trends such as company stocks and financial reports. There is also the concept of mobile brokerage which allows subscribers to access stock market services and react to them promptly irrespective of their physical location (Guizani, 2004). Financial institutions and banks have adopted mobile commerce to allow customers to make transactions and access their account information such as bank balances.
Most of the benefits of using mobile technology can be deduced from the above transformations of business practices. All the advantages ultimately lead to increased productivity and profitability of a business. This is because of its focus on consumer priorities. The adoption of mobile technology into business practices came about after more people became knowledgeable in technological aspects. Over the years since the invention of the internet and portable devices that could make use of it, many people have become aware of its benefits and subscriptions to the same have increased. By implementing mobile technology in global businesses, more consumers are drawn to products through research and marketing strategies done by these businesses (Kwok et al, 2007).
Mobile technology in business has helped to reduce operational costs. This is due to the aspect of mobility, which has made it possible for activities that previously had to be conducted physically to be done through mobile technology (Stojmenović, 2002). For instance people do not have to go to banks or conduct business in a particular office, nowadays all these can be done online or through phones. The costs of travelling are reduced because these transactions can be done in the comfort of a house or other convenient location. Time which is of essence in any business can then be used on other transactions or operations making the business to prosper faster and customers to be served more efficiently.
With mobile technology geographical boundaries are broken (Goldstuck, 2009). Communication is made easier not only within the business but between employers and consumers. Products and services can be easily accessed from anywhere in the world and delivered to customers. The speed with which transactions are carried out has increased with the incorporation of mobile technology in business (Haig, 2002). Unlike the past when documents and records had to be mailed or delivered from door to door, mobile technology ensures they are done within minutes. The same applies to travelling across the globe to secure business deals which can be done with lesser time using mobile technology.
Flexibility in working is enhanced through use of mobile technology (Kornak et al, 2004). This implies that one can work from anywhere, unlike the traditional setting where the office was the main working area. This notwithstanding, travelling across different time zones does not hinder working as business transactions can still be carried out. Flexible working practices have been enhanced by the growth of cloud computing which has impacted positively on mobile devices thus providing services over the internet. Mobile technology solutions enable workers to be linked into a business’ database at any time and away from the office (Dushinski, 2009).
Customer service is enhanced through mobile technology. As previously mentioned, the surge in interactions among people through use technology has aided in the implementation of mobile technology in businesses (Lee, 2013). Businesses are now able to reach more customers for instance through social media. Since communication is made easier with mobile technology, businesses are able to receive timely responses to their products and services in the market. This helps in the upgrading of any products that need improvement. This way, customers are made to feel like they are part of the business intimately. Their contributions are taken into consideration by the management of the business and their priorities put on the frontline. Good customer service is essential for any business seeking to thrive in the wake of tough competition.
Increased communication and collaboration between employers and staff is yet another benefit. Through mobile technology, there is communication even with people who are remote or off site as it becomes easy to send them information from the actual jobsite and receive the same from them. With such people present albeit not physically, decisions are made more promptly than they were before the incorporation of mobile technology in business. Collaboration at any stage in a business increases efficiency and eventually leads to better productivity among employees (Belch et al, 2001). Since communication is essential in any business, especially if done in the realness of time, its efficiency leads to profitability. Where workers are productive, the business environment is conducive to yield more profits.
All these benefits can only be reaped if the right mobile technology tools are used for a certain business. Caution has to be taken when choosing mobile technology devices for a business. In order to do so, thorough research has to be undertaken so as not to overlook anything that might not work efficiently or in favor of the business. For instance, the employer can evaluate his schedule and goals as regards the business to see whether they require a particular device. The nature of the business is also crucial in selecting the right devices for communication within the business (Information Resources Management Association, 2011). Thereafter, there should be training to ensure that those that handle the devices know how to use them
Conclusively, it is easy to identify why mobile technology in business is a game changer. It has the ability to transform a business’ everyday physical activities into a software equivalent by enhancing them (Mobile Technology for Increased Productivity & Profitability, 2013). Its impact on business is due to the increasing social behavior among people worldwide, whereby technology enables them to share experiences and access information. This is done by closing the space or bridging the physical distance between them. Nothing is confined to one geographical area anymore, as mobile technology has managed to bring people together. With regard to business, the power has shifted to consumers and away from enterprises, thanks to mobility. This mobility is mostly that of information. Businesses are no longer being driven by internal factors but by the needs and contributions of consumers. There is therefore a significant collaboration between the business front and the consumer world, and at a lesser cost (Robbins, 2012).
The effect of mobile technology on people has been commercialized by most global businesses to their advantage. Businesses that have set a communication foundation with people in social media have ultimately grown their customer base and built customer loyalty on a larger scale than before. Mobile technology has transformed businesses and resulted in numerous benefits (Sixty-Six Percent of Small Business Owners Use Mobile Technology, 2013). It has a huge potential if incorporated into any business strategy and companies that realize this will reap the most benefits from its adoption and implementation. From increased speed and flexibility to a surge in levels of productivity, the emergence of mobile technology as a business trend has changed how companies previously operated. Being a game changer, it has become necessary for businesses to implement mobile technology if they want to stay ahead of their competition (Hunter et al, 2004).