Mobile Computing: Wield Desktop-Grade Power in the Palm of Your Hands

smartphone and tabletSmartphones and tablets are not just used for electronic communications, accessing media, or surfing the Internet anymore. These are also among a new generation of business tools, enhanced by Cloud-based business applications that enable accurate recording of data in the field and 24/7 collaboration among employees.

In a recent issue of Engineering Inc. magazine, the “Mobile Power” article described the current climate and proposed future of mobile computing in the engineering industry. The key driver of mobile technology in the engineering industry is the ability to bring a smartphone or multimedia-rich tablet onto a job site, even a sewer if necessary, to observe and record data in real-time, while still fresh in the engineer’s mind. Remote staff greatly benefit from mobile field information management software and consulting services. Technology gives engineers the ability to download plans, designs, drawings, and graphics on site and make markups, as well as take high-res photos and video of projects.

A white paper recently published by American Structurepoint described how we’ve helped clients implement and deploy Microsoft Office 365 (Office 365), a desktop suite with Cloud-based versions of next-generation communications and collaboration services. Office 365 features Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint® Online, and Microsoft LyncTM Online, which are delivered and accessed over the Internet (the Cloud). All the information storage, computation, and software is located and managed remotely on servers owned by Microsoft. Having this infrastructure online allows employees to access email, documents, contacts, and calendars virtually anywhere from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. By moving a company’s software and services off local machines and onto Microsoft-hosted servers, it is able to lower hardware overhead costs, decrease electricity costs, better predict IT budgets, and simplify IT system management. Read the free Office 365 white paper here.

It is evident the mobile work environment is a growing trend in business. However, firms are also concerned with keeping confidential business data safe when it comes to inviting employees to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) to work, a movement especially popular among small businesses. When employees bring their own smartphones and tablets to work, mobile device management solutions should be used. Forbes suggests these five BYOD tips:

  1. Make sure all devices are password protected.
  2. Do not store important corporate information on devices locally.
  3. Back up all servers and devices often.
  4. Allow applications to be downloaded from the Internet only if you can verify that the information is trustworthy and will not harm your network.
  5. Make sure all mobile devices, personal or company-owned, can be remotely wiped if they are compromised, lost or stolen.

Lastly, keep in mind that all employees using mobile technology should be properly trained, following company policies regarding the use of company-owned and employee-owned devices. Safety on site is another concern on the job. For example, employees operating machinery should be reminded to only use hands-free devices.

Read the May/June 2013 issue of Engineering Inc. here.