Communication in your business is like the nervous system in your body. It controls the flow of information in and out of the entire organization. It brings in data, orders and news, sends out requests for supplies, marketing messages and information for your staff. A business without communication is not a business -- it's an expensive hobby.
This century has seen changes to the nature of communication few people could have predicted or even imagined. The machines have changed -- some to the point they're hardly recognizable -- but the functions remain the same. Companies that can leverage the newest communicate modalities will maintain a powerful advantage over competitors who don't.
Let’s take a look at how things have evolved:
Gone are the days where you’re tied to your desk. Mobile phones now make it possible to run an entire office literally out of a hip pocket. You can get a custom toll free number with a phone tree that makes calling a home office feel just like calling a multinational mega-corporation.
Voicemail options are similarly broad and easy, with the option to make even microbusinesses communicate like top-tier players. Now days, you can even get your voicemail transcribed into an email so that you don’t even have to listen to them anymore!
A few companies still insist on using these rapidly vanishing relics of the 20th century. Fortunately, computers and most mobile devices can turn a scanned document or email into a fax, and vice-versa. You can do this via apps and programs — such as FaxApp and Zosh — or through email services that make the conversion for you automatically. You can even use Grasshopper to receive your business’ faxes!
Although scanners continue to get smaller, faster and higher in quality, the process and equipment hasn't changed much in past decade. However, there are some mobile apps out there now that use the device's camera as a scanner but the resolution level is low for most business applications as of 2012. There’s still plenty of room for improvement on this one!
A new player in the business field, mobile advertising, websites and functionality are part of every modern business plan. The best players use both mobile devices for easy communication and have their traditional websites optimized for mobile access. After all, most of your customers have a mobile phone, right? Why not make it easy for them?
Point of Sale
Small business owners with more than ten years' experience remember the virtual monopoly held by merchant service providers and leasers of point-of-sale machines. With internet credit card processing and mobile apps on the market, options for payment processing are wide open. Depending on the nature of the business, the best choice might be a traditional machine or even simply your cell phone. Square and Intuit are just two examples of this widely growing service industry.
The Age of the Multitasker
As business communications technology continues to advance, expect to see more and more devices that can perform multiple functions. A generation or two down the line, an app phone will be a handheld fax, phone, scanner and cash register attached to the company's bookkeeping software.
Where do you see the biggest changes coming from in the future of business communications?