companies, you can likewise count on much wider support for these platforms
from productivity software makers going forward.
3. Apps Everywhere
Call them apps, widgets or good old-fashioned software programs. From Apple's new Mac App Store to the debut of TVs by Samsung, Sony and Vizio with full Internet connectivity and support for downloadable apps, expect to find them everywhere. You'll likely find them easy to browse, sample and enjoy virtually anytime, anywhere from a burgeoning range of devices ranging from notebook PCs to eReaders, Bluetooth headsets and even cars by Ford, BMW and Toyota.
Using these bite-sized, value-priced applications, you can instantly transform your smartphone into a portable translator, invoicing system or inventory management platform, or research a prospective client and make lunch reservations on the way to work. Although it's easy to become overwhelmed by the countless entrepreneur-friendly options being offered for download, such as the database management tool FileMaker Go and customized brand-building solutions like Mobile Roadie, upsides are plentiful. Think streamlined controls, budget pricing, on-demand accessibility and, of course, the ability to add an effectively infinite range of useful and unexpected features to supporting gizmos. Enter the age of the Swiss Army gadget.
4. Online Communications
Yes, small businesses with a global or virtualized work force could pay for dedicated videoconferencing solutions, or even high-end new 3D telepresence solutions like Panasonic's VC500 HD Visual Communications System. (Or just spring for the Lenovo L2363d, a 23-inch monitor which includes a webcam capable of projecting three-dimensional images.) But right off the shelf, numerous smartphones and tablets like the HTC ThunderBolt and Fujitsu's Oak Trail tablet (which runs on Windows 7) will come with dual cameras and video calling features built in.
Enterprises on a budget can also turn to TVs which support free Skype video chats via compatible webcams, while Cisco's umi video-calling system also offers a quickly accessible way to connect team members scattered across the U.S. While all require a stable, high-speed broadband Internet connection and a not inconsiderable cash outlay, each promises to aid considerably in facilitating face-to-face communications without tanking your travel budget.
5. Cloud Computing
While we've yet to see users gravitate en masse towards Google's Chrome operating system, which puts the emphasis on Web, not desktop-based applications, more devices are increasingly coming prepackaged with or offering downloadable access to individual services which store data remotely. Allowing remote staffers to more readily collaborate on group projects, updates to be filed and reflected in real-time right from the field and information to be shared amongst distant parties, the trend will only become more widespread.
Of course along with the notable upsides (remote emergency backup, ready information sharing, synchronicity across locales), there are downsides (privacy, security, data retrieval should a service terminate) associated with these options. But the future of productivity lies with a desktop that travels everywhere you go and can be pulled up wherever the need for work strikes, regardless of whether you're cruising at 30,000 feet or sunning yourself in the Hamptons.
Technology expert Scott Steinberg is the CEO of high-tech consulting firm TechSavvy Global, and a gadget guru and video game expert who frequently appears as a technology analyst on major television news networks.
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