2014 is the year I finally caught up with the world. Finally proposed to my girl of 15 years, finally upgraded to high definition TV (a smart one, too), and finally got my first smartphone. I’m pretty slow with the smartphone stuff, but already I’m amazed at everything this little dohickey can pull off. So simple, yet so powerful when considering how the mobile revolution is changing how we live from the social front to the business realm.
Making Money Easier to Manage
Mobile devices have made it more convenient than ever to manage your money. Anytime, anywhere access to your accounts allows you to easily check your balances, transfer funds, pay bills, and much more on the go. Additional functionality can be unlocked through apps that create a more seamless experience for specific financial institutions. Whether it’s managing your money through a bank or stock broker, it’s one of the more hassle-free processes I’ve experienced on a mobile device.
Delivering Critical Healthcare Services Where Needed
We often treat smartphones like just another shiny object in our toy chest. For people in developing countries, cell phones in general are a lifesaver. Initiatives like the global mHealth programs are connecting medical workers in poverty-stricken areas with seasoned healthcare professionals who can help them perform diagnosis in the field and determine treatment options for patients. This CNN article explores some of the many ways cell phones are making a huge difference in Africa.
Guiding Disaster Relief Efforts
Every country is the same in that we’re all vulnerable to natural disasters, criminal acts, terrorists attacks, and other threats. Mobile devices can help us better manage these situations by giving us a way to communicate and mitigate hazards. Alerts can be sent out as warnings of impending danger while relief efforts can be coordinated between family members, surviors, and rescue aid on the heels of catastrophes.
Taking Citizen Journalism to New Heights
The internet rightly receives credit for changing how we consume news. Give mobile devices props for changing how it’s reported. It’s now fairly common for local, world, and sports media outlets to broadcast footage captured from consumer-owned devices. This concept is wholly embraced in countries like India, where the grassroots grown publication CGnet Swara empowers village residents to report news and tell their personal stories using mobile gadgets.
Showing Plenty Potential in Education
Allowing students to bring cell phones to class remains a slippery slope at the grade school level. Still, there is no denying the potential mobile devices have in the educational field. One reason I felt comfortable getting my 13-year-old sister a cell phone was because she could use it to help with school work. That luxury came in handy when she had to miss a few days, but was still able to have assignments delivered to her phone and submit them to teachers via a student email account.
Transforming Mobile Commerce
Advances in mobile payment processing have made it possible for retailers to literally take their storefronts on the road. Merchant service providers empower businesses by delivering apps that allow them to transform their smartphones and tablets into mobile terminals that accept credit and debit cards like convenient credit card readers. Some even offer attachable scanners that connect to the device so customers can simply swipe their cards the old school way.
Making Customer Service More Responsive
Is there really any excuse not to provide around the clock customer service these days? Okay, 24/7 may be stretching it for some, but mobile devices have certainly given us the power to respond to inquiries and issues in more timely fashion. It’s what we ourselves have come to expect as consumers, so whether it’s via phone call, email, or social media, getting back to your customers in 12 to 24 hours opposed to one to three business todays is in your best interest.
Deploying a Virtual Workforce
Once upon a time, working from home was a novel ideal mainly explored by the ambitious self-employed. Today, it’s a viable option for both independent business owners and employers operating from traditional workspaces. Armed with mobile devices, employees can use virtualization, cloud, and video conferencing apps to connect to the network and communicate with the office. Telecommuting is helping companies lure free agent talent away from competitors with the promise of a supremely flexible work environment.
Mobilizing the Enterprise
Beyond working from home, mobile devices are helping companies boost productivity across the board. Employees can essentially bring their workspace along with them as they meet with clients, sit at the airport, and travel across the country. Some organizations are looking maximize their investment in mobile technology by creating a company-wide ecosystem of devices through BYOD. A recent survey by Spiceworks found that 80 percent of respondents let each employee use up to two devices, hinting that the bring your own device trend is becoming the norm for SMBs.
Creating New Challenges in IT
In the IT shop, where these devices have increasing influence, additional management and security risks can outweigh the benefits of mobile integration. Managing a diverse flock of gadgets, reducing vulnerability to malicious threats, and merging new policies with existing company policies mounts up to ongoing concerns. The added burden on IT and security is an example how mobile devices have also made life more challenging in many respects.
Photo Credit: Northern Ireland Executive via Flickr