Dashboard: November 2009
Building on Mobility
Building and selling houses in the vastness of the 1,644 square miles of Idaho’s Treasure Valley requires capable, versatile wireless devices and networking.
CBH Homes is the region’s biggest builder, and relies increasingly on handheld devices such as notebook computers to coordinate its operations throughout the region, says Holly Haener, director of sales and marketing for the Meridian, Idaho, company.
The builder installed a BlackBerry Enterprise Server a few years ago at its headquarters to support both sales and construction operations throughout the region, says Ron Lenz, IT specialist at CBH. The housing market in Idaho is on the upswing, and Treasure Valley, which encompasses the towns of Boise, Caldwell, Kuna, Meridian and Nampa, is the most populous area of the state. The company needed more flexible ways to efficiently communicate with its far-flung managers.
Thirty of CBH Homes’ 60 employees, who work mostly in construction and sales, have BlackBerry devices that wirelessly connect to the server, says Lenz. The server runs scheduling software that construction managers use daily to perform their jobs. Handling the same scheduling functions with construction managers at numerous sites in the area without wireless devices would require intricate coordination, time-consuming meetings and less time in the field where the managers are needed.
The server, says Lenz, is low maintenance and allows easy sign-in for new users. They simply input their information on their handheld device, and it automatically synchronizes with the company’s scheduling and e-mail applications.
“Wireless computing has allowed me to take my business’ financial management expertise nationwide.”
— Marilyn Landis, president, Basic Business Concepts, Pittsburgh
“Mobile computing has allowed me to work at home during inclement weather, which is very important during tax season, as I need to be as efficient as possible.”
— Lawrence Nannis, CPA and partner, Levine, Katz, Nannis and Solomon, Boston
“Mobile capabilities have eliminated the constraints of an office. Flexibility is particularly important in this changing economy.”
— Sal Catalfamo Jr., vice president of business development, Toscano Tile Imports, Cape Coral, Fla.
“It takes about 15 minutes for the initial setup,” he says. The server itself, says Lenz, has been largely crisis-free, with only the handsets requiring an occasional reboot.
CBH Homes is adjusting to the convergence of wireless devices and notebook computers and supports both, says Haener. But the move to wireless devices and the BlackBerry server has let the company eliminate its virtual private network connections, she says. Construction managers coordinate their activities exclusively with BlackBerry devices, while sales managers use both BlackBerrys and notebook computers.
Handing Out Freedom
Hand your employees a smartphone and you give them more than a communications device — you grant them the freedom and ability to act quickly on new opportunities as they arise.
The fact that wireless devices open new vistas of opportunity is not news, but the impact of a good smartphone on company operations can be profound.
The BlackBerry Bold 9000 is a workhorse for many small and midsize businesses. It bristles with powerful options and capabilities tailored to SMBs. It can be managed centrally from an onsite server, offering more advanced security and control.
The 9000 provides access to voice and data services simultaneously. Using the HSPDA network, it can support fast e-mail attachment downloading, web page loading and mobile streaming for JPEG, Adobe, Excel, Word and PowerPoint files. The device also has expandable memory support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, along with built-in Global Positioning System functionality.
$350 billion: Total cost to U.S. taxpayers to wire the nation with high-speed, 100-megabit-per-second Internet access
SOURCE: Federal Communications Commission report
2011: When sales of smartphones are expected to overtake those of traditional cell phones
SOURCE: RBC Capital Markets
87%: Percentage of Americans who owned a mobile device in 2008
SOURCE: CTIA–The Wireless Association
31%: Percentage of small businesses using smartphones for e-mail access
$375 million: What small businesses will spend on smartphones by 2014
Which of the following mobile technologies is most important to your business?
Notebooks/netbooks – 50%
Smartphones – 37%
Don't use mobile devices – 8%
USB drives – 4%
Mobile printers/scanners – 1%
SOURCE: CDW Poll of 446 BizTech readers
By which method do the majority of your company's employees access your network remotely?
IPsec VPN – 35%
SSL VPN – 30%
Citrix – 15%
Terminal Services – 13%
Other – 7%
SOURCE: CDW poll of 400 BizTech readers