You're going to see a lot of app stories this week for you new smartphone and tablet owners. All you have to do is go to Google and type in "productivity apps" and you'll get more than a few stories to review. If you're just starting out with one of these new tools, you could check out a list from PC Magazine that offers some advice. We even ran an item in our December issue with top Ag Apps you can check out.
With more than a half-million apps out there, you'll have plenty to choose from, the key is thinking how best to utilize this new productivity tool. What I'm writing today (in this holiday-delayed blog) is about how tablets and smart phones can change how you do things in your business.
The basic stuff that comes with the device - email capability, built-in cameras and other tools - make these items some of the best ways to get on the Internet to find out what you need. Essentially they start out as super "consumption" devices allowing you to grab information you need. Often I'll keep my tablet nearby so I can pull up information quickly rather than going to the laptop. It's great to be able to pull up key information and news just as you need it.
If you're just getting into social media you'll find the smart phone and tablet (no matter what brand or operating system) make that easier too. And they key is that often these devices are easier to use than your conventional computer. This is now demonstrated in the rapid decline in laptop sales.
The best way to maximize that new device is to do something we used to recommend with those new-fangled computers so many years ago - play. That's right, cut out some time these winter months (between chores and meetings) to just spend an hour or two learning about the application stores (like Google Play or the App Store from Apple). Download a few free apps to learn how the process works and how those apps work on your device. It's easy to remove apps you don't want, so a few free items you can use from time to time will be helpful, and help you get comfortable with the device.
Out of the box, set up that email. A tablet or smart phone can keep you connected when you're away from the office and that's increasingly important as your customers (the grain elevators and livestock barns of the world) get more savvy about making offers through email and in other ways.
I've had some kind of smartphone for at least eight years and couldn't imagine being "offline" during the day and trying to keep up with what's happening in ag news or in my company.
So for all those new smartphone/tablet owners out there, welcome to the club. If you've got a question you can post it below and I'll do what I can to find the answer/link/software you need. You want to maximize that new tool for fun and profit, and we'll do what we can to help.
By the way, there's still time to sign up for the Farm Futures Business Summit, which kicks off for two information-packed days next week. Just visit FarmFutures.com/summit2013 to register. Hope to see you there.