I don’t want to betray my age, but I remember a time when the list of cellular phone capabilities was:
1) Make mobile phone calls; and
2) Receive mobile phone calls.
Even the mobility was up for debate. My first cell was the size of a brick and had a four-inch antenna that still didn’t ensure consistent reception. You had to be a healthy young person to lug that around. And battery life? Let’s not go there. Please.
It was analogue cellular communication. We did not call it “first-generation” or “1G.” We didn’t know there would be more generations. In fact, and I could stand to be corrected, I don’t think we called the next generation “2G” either. If we actually number the technologies between our bricks and our wafer-thin titanium smart phones, we’re well past so-called “4G” technology. There was MPS, AMPS, D-AMPS, CDMA, GSM … and that’s not taking into account what we’ll call “pre-1G” technologies, which became available to anyone with a boatload of money in the 1940s, but were experimented with as far back as the 1920s.
So let’s not focus on “4G”. The technology we’re talking about is LTE (Long-Term Evolution), the latest generation of mobile communications, and one that, from the name, suggests we’re not going to be adding any more Gs any time soon.
Carriers such as Rogers have rolled out LTE networks across Canada, with LTE-enabled smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 offering mobile connectivity at greater speeds than ever imagined before.
What will upgrading your employees to LTE-enabled smartphones mean for their productivity? In fact, quite a lot.
- Short messaging service (SMS)—or texting, as most of us call it—is likely the most profound yet simple change in the way humans communicate in the history of the world other than the invention of abstract language. It’s not exclusive to LTE—any post-1G technology supports it—but its significance cannot be overstated. If a telephone call is synchronous communication, and an e-mail exchange is asynchronous communication, SMS has evolved to be near-synchronous communication, which seems to be the preference of most people. Texting combines the immediacy of a conversation with the premeditation of a letter. It demands brevity and, with the ability to include media other than text, clarity. But it does not demand an immediate response. Texting may be dependent on an Internet-based backbone, but it’s a profoundly more important revolution in the way people communicate than e-mail or the Worldwide Web.
- E-mail and the web are poster children for why your users need an LTE smart phone. Again, it’s not exclusive to an LTE-connected phone. But there are two LTE-related features that make it more powerful. First, there’s the speed of the connection. Second, there’s the management aspect. Ever try managing e-mail in a native mobile phone application? You’re crying if you have.
- The accessibility of the web in a mobile environment, at a high speed, means you can settle arguments quickly. In a business environment, you can quickly research historical cost and delivery data, for example, or buying trends or financing options. That could be the difference between go and no-go in a coffee shop meeting. It also allows speedy access to key business applications, with most enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications offering mobile accessibility to key data.
- Your users are never lost. The ubiquity of GPS capabilities in LTE devices means they can know where they are, where they’re going, and how to get there (if they have the appropriate app, native on most smart phones). They can do route-planning against traffic data, show the boss where they were on that client visit or automatically generate their mileage claim. And when they inevitably end up stranded on an ice floe on Frobisher Bay, a three-hour walk from Iqaluit, Nunavut, as I did, they’ll at least be able to tell people exactly where they are before the polar bears figure it out.
By the way, if you’re in a business environment and you find yourself stuck on an ice floe on Frobisher Bay, I so don’t want your job.