Conducting your business wherever you happen to be isn't a new concept for many small business owners -- there's a reason why the cab of a lot of pickup trucks looks more like an oddly shaped office than a means of transportation. Still, it's impossible not to note that the conference sessions and vendor booths here at TechEd each have a significant emphasis on the tools and strategies to let business happen wherever the worker is -- not wherever the office happens to be.
Microsoft is working hard to make Windows Mobile more capable. I'm all for that, as I use Windows Mobile on my Samsung Blackjack to keep up with e-mail and instant messages (and, of course, phone calls and text messages) when I'm away from my office. There are a few problems, though: updating the software on most mobile devices is an absolute nightmare compared to updating workstation and server software; the eyes of a 40+-year-old worker don't delight in microscopic type the way the eyes of a 20+-year-old worker might; there’s still a huge gulf between seeing documents on a smart phone and working on documents using a smart phone; and the hoary issue of mobile security is lurking around pretty much every corner.
With all that said, greater mobile capabilities are definitely on the way, and that's a great thing. With energy prices heading north, every unnecessary trip back to the office to file paperwork lowers the bottom line. The problem is going to be making sure that small businesses have the same sort of capabilities that the enterprises do. In some ways, it will be easier for smaller businesses because they don't have the fleet-management issues that come with a huge workforce. In others, small businesses will have to be more creative because the price of some tools, no matter how cost-effective they might be, is simply out of reach.
Here's a question: How are you handling mobility issues for your small business? Send me a note and I’ll put together some future posts with the solutions you've developed.