Since the rise of PalmPilots and other personal data assistants in the early 1990s, mobile devices have been changing the way professionals do business. As mobile technology becomes more integrated into modern work practices, clients may simply expect you to have mobile capabilities. Don’t fall behind; below are some tips to help you make the most of mobile technology available to you.
Choosing the Right Device
While there are a number of companies manufacturing mobile devices, the majority of them run one of a small handful of operating systems: Apple iOS, Google Android, Blackberry OS or Windows Mobile. Check leading tech blogs like Gadgetwise to see which devices are right for you. Remember: maintaining consistency across their electronics can simplify synching and file sharing. However, each mobile platform is compatible with any other computer or operating system, so don’t feel tied to a platform if it means sacrificing features that are important to you.
When it comes to mobile devices, two main form factors dominate today’s business world: smart phones and tablets, both with a range of available sizes. The right one for you depends on what you plan to use it for and what you need it to do. Smart phones are small, lightweight, and portable, making them ideal for the mobile independent consultant who simply needs access to email, calendars, schedules, communication options, and light productivity. Tablets serve to bridge the gap between smart phones and netbooks, offering more robust productivity options and a larger screen that can be helpful if you plan to use your device to present information to clients, or if your work involves examining larger images or graphs.
Configuring Your Device
All four of the main mobile platforms offer robust app marketplaces filled with downloadable applications that can boost productivity (along with a few that can reduce it: e.g., Angry Birds). From file-sharing apps like Dropbox and the popular note synching service Evernote to robust reminder services and mobile versions of popular word processors, both general and industry-specific apps can help independent consultants be more efficient, organized and productive while away from their desks. The programs you use on an everyday basis may have mobile apps now; check your app store to see how you can improve your mobile consulting.
An independent consultant’s mobile devices often contain access to email accounts, copies of sensitive client documents, and lists of private contact information. Because of this, security should be a major consideration. Some companies, like Apple, offer remote device locking and locating services that can shut down, GPS locate, and even completely wipe a device that is lost or stolen. In addition, mobile devices are also susceptible to viruses that can corrupt data or steal information; when clicking links and downloading applications, ensure that they always come from a trusted and reputable source.
When many people think of accessories for mobile devices, they often think of decorative or novelty add-ons. However, some accessories are wise – and valuable – investments for independent consultants and other professionals.
- Extra Battery: Long days of heavy device use can cause batteries to drain quickly. Investing in a spare battery can help ensure that you have enough power to receive that important client call or finish editing a time-sensitive document. If your mobile device’s batteries aren’t removable, battery-boosting attachments can help give you extra power.
- Case or Cover: With a goal of function rather than fashion, a tough and rugged case can help protect your investment from cracks and scratches. Even slim rubber cases can provide added protection without extra bulk, but frequent travelers might want to opt for the extra protection of a thicker leather case. Remember, most warranties and protection plans don’t cover accidental damage, and a broken device means a potentially costly loss of productivity.
Back Up Your Data
It’s important to regularly back up all information and data on your mobile devices. Though experts have been emphasizing this for years, recent statistics show that only 7% of people back up their data daily, and just 23% do so monthly. When you consider the amount of data added or edited on your mobile devices in a workweek, a device failure or loss without a back up could mean the loss of a significant amount of data. If your device offers the option to automatically back up data to the cloud at scheduled intervals, this may be an excellent option for some. Otherwise, make a habit of saving all data at the end of each day.
What is your mobile device of choice? How do you make the most of it? Tell us in the comments!