Once upon a time, mobile phones were a luxury, possessed principally by the economically well off. Today, it’s ubiquitous, owned by all and sundry. It’s become a fixture of contemporary life, an object we can barely live without. This reality in itself presents opportunities for business gains on multiple fronts.
Because mobile devices are our most important tools for communicating with the world beyond our immediate space, they’ve opened up a new frontier for commerce which has been lapped up with great enthusiasm by individuals and corporations over the past couple of decades. And as telecommunications networks and the speed of internet connectivity have grown, the globe has shrunk before our eyes. Where building a transnationally active enterprise from your little corner of the world was once considered a wild dream, it can now be achieved with a small slice of the effort it used to require.
Mobile technology has also carried the digital revolution to the remotest corners of the world. As is the case with every other aspect of our lives, business has been profoundly changed by it. While it’s wiping out old roles, it’s creating new ones and expanding the possibilities for enterprise growth.
In this article, we’re laying out some of the most significant uses of mobile technology in business; you’re very likely to find a few business applications of this technology you were previously not very well informed about. Hopefully, you’ll also be able to deploy them to your enterprise if you haven’t already done so. If you have, you might discover new approaches to running your business using smartphones and tablets.
This is the most obvious benefit of mobile technology. Voice calls, instant messaging and email are some of the ways we communicate with fellow workers and customers over varying distances.
But it could be that you’re not taking full advantage of the communication tools your smartphone allows you to have. For example, you might think that your phone isn’t much of a help when there are complex projects to carry out and your team is scattered over different locations. How about all of you linking up to discuss, share and work on large files, and dealing with all that stuff online? Thanks to cloud based applications like Slack, you can actually do serious work with your team from wherever you are.
Reach a wider market
With today’s smartphones and data connections, you’re literally only a couple of taps away from the rest of the planet. If you’re a businessperson, this means that you have the world within your shooting range. Your customers don’t have to be locals alone; they could be from anywhere on earth.
But this shattering of the barrier to market entry imposed by distance is as much a good thing for business on the home front as it is for international trading. Nigeria has 148 million active phone lines according to the National Communications Commission; it also says that the country has more than 100 million mobile internet subscriptions. This is a huge market by any definition, and it’s potentially open to anyone who can exploit mobile technology as an enabler of multi channel communication.
Of course, your ability to use the opportunities this presents you with depends on several factors, including the amount of relevant resources available to you and your knowledge of communication channels that enable this global linkup.
Manage work on the go
We hinted at this in the cloud communication example given previously.
Here’s another example. You’re the Human Resources person at the company you work for. You need to deal with pending staff welfare issues now, but you’re away from the office. What do you do?
Cloud based HR and payroll systems help eliminate this problem. These systems can store employee profiles, performance records and salary payment histories, intra company financial transactions and other related things. They’re typically accessible from anywhere you’re at, and usually have mobile compatible applications which let you attend to whatever HR or payroll issues demand your attention, from any location.
Access useful information
Business thrives on information. When you have the right information about your industry and target market at your finger tips and deploy it effectively, your business decisions are likely to yield good results.
The internet has become a limitless treasure throve of information, one that benefits us in many ways. Entrepreneurs have learnt (and are learning) the art of building successful ventures from the numerous materials about this available on digital platforms. These materials can be connected to via mobile devices.
But there are other ways to find enterprise enabling information. Consider Verdant, for instance. This service furnishes crop farmers with the weather, soil, market and finance information they need to improve their production levels, and does so through voice calls and mobile SMS. These channels are particularly suited to rural smallholder farmers who don’t use high end smartphones.
Dedicated services like Verdant could become more common as the roots of mobile technology in Nigeria are deepened.
The success of ecommerce has been due in large part to the creation of payment systems which take the place of the exchange of goods for physical cash. Instead of handing or receiving hard currency, electronic transfers can be made from a buyer’s account to the seller’s, through an online payment gateway. You can carry out these transactions with your smartphone.
Money transfers can also be made through bank mobile apps.
The convenience of cashless payments benefits both parties in such transactions. The customer doesn’t have to travel potentially long distances to buy things; and the merchant has his revenues transferred directly into their (business) account.