As a business coach working closely with business owners and managers in a wide variety of settings, I am frequently out of my office and “on the road”. In the last few years, I have found some great technology that has revolutionized my work.
Most of this has been fueled by increasing connectivity due to wireless broadband Internet, cloud based computing and integrated communication devices.
The tools of trade that I can no longer be without are:
SMARTPHONE: I use an iPhone as it seamlessly connects with my Mac and iPad making a truly integrated system. However, I have friends and colleagues with Blackberry and Android phones that provide the same evel of service.
Key elements are obviously the phone plus internet and email access. In addition there are a variety of apps that I use on my iPhone and iPad that are excellent. I also carry a set of headphones (standard Apple model) for making hands-free calls and listening to music on the phone.
My Smartphone allows me to quickly check emails and text messages between meetings and I can even respond with simple replies on my phone (big fingers and lack of fine motor skills restrict usability).
I synchronize my CRM (I use a Mac based CRM Daylite but you can use outlook, etc) so that appointments and contact details are maintained on all devices. I will discuss some of the key apps that I use below, but they are an essential part of being mobile.
Battery life on the iPhone often struggles to meet demand, so I carry a USB charge cable and a quick charge battery pack which is about the size of a box of matches (they still make them – don’t they?)
iPad 3GS: since purchasing my iPad about 6 months ago, I wonder how I ever got on without it.
Previously I would cart my laptop plus assorted cables and chargers and a USB Internet connection with me all day. I had a large computer bag to carry my computer, peripherals and client books. This usually weighed more than 4kg hand luggage limit on our local commuter airline meaning that I would often have to have my equipment (I always kept my laptop in hand) in the hold of the plane – another inconvenience.
With the iPad, all I carry is a USB charging cable (same one as the iPhone) but I rarely have to use it as the iPad has excellent battery life. For overnight trips I will take the wall charger but this is a very small unit so it’s not a drama. I also carry an adapter cable that will let me plug my iPad into a monitor or data projector for use with presentations. This plus the Livescribe pen and writing pad (in a leather folio) fits into a small leather briefcase rather than a large computer bag.
While the iPad is not a full laptop replacement it does 80% of the things I require when on the road. I can type simple documents (actually I’m typing this blog in a cafe on my iPad), use simple spreadsheets, edit and deliver simple PowerPoint presentations, check my email, surf the web, update social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter), complete skype calls, use my CRM and various other apps.
The screen based keyboard is not ideal but is passable for most of my needs – however, I’m about to upgrade to an iPad 2 and will look for a very portable wireless Bluetooth keyboard to match it – I’ll keep you posted on progress.
2011 will see the release of a number of competing products for the iPad and sure many of these like the Android phones will be quite good. I am an unabashed Apple fan – the stuff just works!
But whatever brand you choose, make sure that each of your devices is very compatible with the others – it just makes life easier.
LIVESCRIBE SMARTPEN: (www.livescribe.com) possibly the best investment I made in 2010 was this innovative smartpen. It is a literally a small computer in a pen and has fundamentally changed the way I work with my clients (actually the product works so well that many of them now have Smartpens oftheir own).
The Smartpen is an electronic biro. You use it on custom stationery, although you can print your own. The pen uses an infrared camera and “invisible markers” on the stationery so that it knows in what book, what page and where on that page you are writing.
It records every pen stroke and allows you to upload a copy of the page to your computer. You can then share your notes with others via PDF, Evernote or uploading the website.
You can also record audio with the pen and it will sync the audio and writing so that when you play it back you can see what was being said (recorded) at the time you were writing. Great for lecture notes and seminars.
I use it to record my meetings with clients, then when I return to the office, I upload to my desktop (there is no iPad app) and then send a copy, usually PDF, to my client. If necessary, I will also need a copy to my VA for typing.
Stationery is available in a variety of sizes and formats and is reasonably priced.
It is a great idea that works really. The pen is a little chunky but after using it for a while I don’t find it a chore to write with.
So that is the technology that is really working for me.
What technology are you using and how does it give you leverage?