In the Trenches: The Difficulty of Going Mobile

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on March 12, 2014
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We’ve all heard the news: Nearly a third of U.S.-based web traffic is mobile, PCs are dead, and if you aren’t using a touch screen, you aren’t cool. That means your small business needs to be “mobile friendly,” which generally requires enabling your employees to work via smartphone. The latter task is harder than it may seem.

In our business, clients may need us 24 hours a day, so it’s important to have access to our systems, regardless of where we are. I personally carry a portable Wi-Fi router so that I can fire up my laptop anywhere I have a cellular signal. But I don’t always carry my computer with me, and sometimes other staffers are on duty. It would be great if everyone could do business via smartphone, a device we all use throughout the day.

For instance, over the weekend, I had two urgent calls come in. I had just stepped out of the office and was caught without my laptop. If only my smartphone could have accessed everything I needed!

It’s easy to handle email and web-based applications on a phone, but many businesses out there have at least one clunky old app that seems like it’s from a bygone era. In our case, it’s Sabre.

Sabre is the largest provider of travel-agent reservation systems in the U.S. The agency we’re affiliated with uses that system. It took Sabre a long time to support Macintosh computers, and it finally entered the mobile space in November by launching an iPad app. But the app doesn’t work on iPhones, and we’re an Android shop anyway. I’m sure Sabre will get there eventually, but for now, this critical system is virtually impossible to use in a mobile environment.

I’ve considered the alternatives. Competing companies such as Travelport have fully functional mobile apps, but it’s not easy to switch. We would have to likely change agency affiliations, and that’s not a simple thing to do.

For now, we’re kind of stuck working in a non-mobile world. What tips do you have?

BrettSnyder

Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.

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