The top three latest mobile phone technologies for SMEs

By: January 23, 2014
In the future, voice recognition technology is likely to be more deeply embedded within our smartphones In the future, voice recognition technology is likely to be more deeply embedded within our smartphones

Mobile phone technology has come a long way in the past couple of years. From simple devices that could only call and text, they’ve now evolved to the point where they can transform everyday business processes.

If you love gadgets and having the latest mobile phone technologies, this guide shows you a brief glimpse of some of the things possible today. After another couple of years, who knows what will eventually become possible?

1. Voice Indexing: Search through a meeting and find out what was said

Wouldn’t it be great if you could record a project meeting and then search through it later on?

In almost every business today, search plays an important role in finding relevant information. We use websites like Google to find information on the internet. For information that’s stored on our phones, we use tools such as Spotlight for iPhone and other similar apps which can very quickly search through documents and messages.

Until now, search technology has mainly been restricted to written communication, as written text is fairly straightforward to index, but things are much harder with audio and video. However, recent advances in voice recognition technology have begun to make this easier.

Voice recognition has been around for years but we all know that it can suffer from a lack of accuracy. Although the technology is still far from perfect, it can do a fairly good job when generating keywords from a recording. One application that enables search through recordings is VoiceBase (available for iPhone and Android). The VoiceBase application generates keywords from an audio recording. When the recording is later searched, results are timestamped so you can easily jump to the relevant part of a discussion. If you’re looking to see what was agreed at a meeting, this can be a very effective tool.

In the future, voice recognition technology is likely to be more deeply embedded within our smartphones. For instance, Google has experimented with automatic voicemail transcription. which makes it easy to search through messages left for you. Banks and other companies that have an audit requirement have also begun using technology which makes the content of phone calls searchable.

2. Remote Desktop: Access your computer and run PC applications using a smartphone

We’ve already talked about the death of PCs and landlines – whilst it’s now possible nowadays to do much of your work on a smartphone, there are still legacy applications that will only work on a computer. By using remote desktop technology, you’re able to connect to your corporate network and run PC applications through a window on your smartphone.

Today, many business users use VPN technology to connect to their corporate network. VPN creates a secure end-to-end connection between your smartphone and your company’s corporate network. You can access corporate resources through a VPN connection: for instance e-mails, documents and files stored on a company computer.

To access PC-based applications, you’ll need to go one step further by using remote desktop technology. The two most popular technologies are RDP and VNC (they stand for the “Remote Desktop Protocol” and “Virtual Network Computing”). By setting up a server on your computer and running a suitable client on your phone, you can remotely run PC applications. The experience should be similar to being sat at your desk. RDP and VNC clients are freely available on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices.

With smartphones becoming more powerful, remote desktop is likely to become less useful in the future. Business owners can already download smartphone-optimised apps for doing things such as managing their accounts, and in the future, the distinction between PCs and smartphones is likely to get smaller as smartphones become more powerful. For instance, the Ubuntu Phone project aims to combine PCs and smartphones on one single device. By attaching your smartphone to a monitor, your phone transforms to give a full PC experience.

3. Hosted PBX solutions: Advanced telephony without an expensive switchboard

In the past, many businesses maintained their own switchboard. A PBX switchboard or a “Private Branch Exchange” connects your company telephone system with the rest of the world. It gives each of your staff their own telephone extension number and allows them to transfer calls within the company.
Advanced PBX systems can also manage queues and can enable a telephone conference. To present a professional image to customers calling your company, switchboards can often be an important business requirement.

For small and medium-sized businesses, dedicated switchboards have often been overkill. Expensive and difficult to maintain, they’ve been a business expense disliked by CFOs. Nowadays, rather than buying your own switchboard equipment, it’s possible to outsource your PBX provision. By allowing a third-party to host your company’s switchboard, you can reduce costs and the hassle of maintenance. A hosted PBX system can reduce calling costs by finding the most effective way to route a call. Calls can be routed over a landline, a mobile telephone or over the internet.

This article was a contribution from Ian Blake, head of marketing at Three Ireland.