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.

Information Technology Group Shares Its Best Practices for a Higher “IT IQ”

IT_IQ

American Structurepoint’s Information Technology Group recently released a free white paper for our clients on the methods used to “Sharpen Your Company’s IT IQ,” based on the “Ask the Experts” event on the same topic, hosted by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, on March 27, 2013, during which Tony Valasek, executive IT director at American Structurepoint, spoke to participants interested in improving their IT knowledge and efficiency. His presentation focused on today’s hot-topic IT issues and divulged valuable best-practices for sharpening a company’s IT IQ.

What is IT IQ?

During the panel-discussion, Valasek defined IT IQ as “an organization’s intellectual ability in the information technology realm.” When running a business, the IT IQ of an organization can predict efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

American Structurepoint’s Information Technology Group prides itself on running an in-house team and a client services team on proven “best practices.”

Achievements of our in-house Information Technology Group include:

  • Eleven years in a row of no unplanned downtime
  • Unbelievable response time and personal attention by constantly “raising the bar”
  • Giving our production groups a competitive advantage
    • Understanding the company’s needs
    • Partnering to find solutions
    • Investing in our tools
    • Driving results through technology on par with our biggest national competitors

Achievements of our client services IT Group Include:

  • Providing a diverse group of IT professionals with experience across diverse markets and disciplines
  • Engaging clients
  • Providing support services much like our in-house team
    • Working on projects and higher-end strategic assignments

We are able to run both groups successfully based on similar best practices. By implementing our best practices, you can help your organization sharpen its own IT IQ. Some of the steps to follow are to:

  • Increase IT engagement in business practices
  • Use “Red Teams” to test your organization’s technology to learn more about your IT strengths and weaknesses and to successfully upgrade or implement a system or application
  • Make listening part of your IT culture to improve communication between employees and clients
  • Choose an appropriate IT Environment
    • Organic In-House Model: This IT environment often requires a significant up-front investment, because it’s cultivated from within. An IT director is hired; he or she establishes the forward-view technology plan and then hires an IT staff to implement the systems, equipment, software, and applications. This is the same model American Structurepoint implemented more than ten years ago, and it’s been tremendously successful. We have experienced zero downtime, and the technology is fully integrated into our business plan, which promotes efficiency, growth, and profitability.
    • Non-Organic Outsourced Model: In these instances, American Structurepoint becomes the IT department for the organization. From servers and desktop support to mobile device management, our experts help you take IT completely off your plate, allowing employees to focus on their core competencies, without technology being a distraction.
    • Blended Model: This IT environment can offer the best of both worlds. It allows you to pinpoint the perfect mix of in-house talent with outsourced expertise.

There are exciting business opportunities on the horizon when you decide to make technology a competitive advantage. American Structurepoint has seen it happen within our own company, and we’ve witnessed it with our clients.

To read more about the best practices used to sharpen an IT IQ, access our free white paper here.