How are you using technology to grow your business?
Technology is best used to communicate information, collaborate on projects, automate repetitive tasks, perform math and share ideas. When you try to force technology to work outside these areas, you will inevitably run into trouble. Fortunately, that covers a lot of ground.
Currently we use: smartphones, a whole suite of Google tools and blogs.
All of these have become invaluable to how we do business. It has allowed us to streamline and improve the service we provide our customers. And it has also allowed us to become a truly mobile business.
What are your business's key tech tools and why?
Smartphones (iPhones & Droids)
Information is power. Smartphones allow us to connect with each other and valuable customer data. We have also found that using Google Apps allows us direct access to customer files from our smartphones. This makes it incredibly easy to check on the progress of a job or to simply look up reference information.
Google Apps Standard
This is the free version of the same service used by Fortune 500 companies to create collaborative work environments for their workers. Calendars, documents, email, chat, contacts and websites all hosted, protected and backed up by Google for you. It's a complete business technology infrastructure for free. How can you beat that?
We have been using Google Documents to help us communicate better with our customers. All our customers have direct access to their files which they can access at any time. We have even used some of the collaboration functions to work out specifications on new projects. I have found that this method promotes transparency and clarity.
Shared calendars allow us to better budget our resources. We even have calendars for certain resources like conference rooms and equipment. It has made everyone's life significantly easier by eliminating confusion and conflicting schedules.
Google allows you to share your contacts across the company. Now if I need to get in touch with someone's contact, I don't have to hunt the person down to find out the name and email address. All I do is search for the contact within their list.
Wordpress blog with a live RSS feed
This one was so simple it amazes me more people aren't doing it. We are using a simple blog to create and submit Work Orders to employees. Since the blog is a public website we make sure not to include anything sensitive. Because of the RSS feed, everyone gets an email sent directly to their smartphone whenever a new work order is posted. If a technician is in the area and available they can reply to accept the work order and I will then send them additional details on the job.
The best part of all these tools is that they are web-based. All I need to work is a computer with an internet connection and I have access to all my company tools. That means I can work effectively from anywhere -- thereby making my business 100% mobile. I am no longer chained to a desk which frees me to travel anywhere I need to be.
Tips and Tricks
- Google Apps Standard will also handle all your company email too!
- Google Contacts allows you to share your contact list with fellow employees.
- Google Calendar can automatically share your calendars within your group.
- Using Google Documents you can create easy to use web forms that dump data directly into an Excel spreadsheet for later analysis. This is incredibly useful.
- We are starting to experiment with Google Wave as a means of combining many of the different features and tools discussed herein. To date I am pleased with Wave but I think it will be some time before it is ready for business use.