Kitchen & Bath Business, July 2016

Save time and money by switching to a mobile platform. 

Once in a while in the business world, something comes along that works better, saves time and costs less. Mobile apps do all that for my kitchen, Dream Kitchen Builders. I stopped using the old stand of PCs, Microsoft Office (Office) and a Local Area (LAN) this past year, and I started using mobile apps to run my business. 

A LAN is a computer network that interconnects computers within a limited area such as an office or school. This old standard has been used for more than 30 years, and Office was originally designed as a one-software-fits-all application. It's truly amazing that nay tech company could dominate business software for 30 years as Microsoft has.

Mobile apps are the exact opposite because their missions is to do just one thing and do it better than any other method. Mobile apps are computer programs designed to run on smartphones and tablets, they cost way less to design and build than legacy software, and they do many things better and even do some things Office can't do. Smartphones are mobile computers, and they are replacing PCs because they're smarter, faster and cost less. 

BEING MOBILE HAS ITS ADVANTAGES

Kitchen and bath design businesses are more mobile than many others because design professionals do business everywhere - in the office, on a job site or on the road. Some of us design and produce projects out of town and even out of state, so it makes sense that design businesses can benefit more from mobile IT than another operations where most of the business takes place within a local space. 

The ability to manage, share and collaborate globally with the simplicity of a mobile app is revolutionary. I edit documents int eh cloud using a smart-phone, and I don't download or upload because word processing software is embedded in the cloud (and it's free). My mileage record are kept automatically by my iPhone because there's an app for that (MileIQ). 

The smartphone-mobile-app ecosystem is a DIY IT platform, so I don't need a local tech person; the system is never down; and I don't have to suffer through softer upgrades every three years. My files are encrypted to and from the cloud (data center), and they are backed up in two locations - one on each coast. 

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE APPS

The top mobile app categories for business are information sharing, collaboration, productivity and social networking. Box is my app for sharing and collaboration, and it's my virtual server for my mobile IT system. It affords me unlimited storage and simple management of every document in my business, and it's the same software Fortune 500s use for the same things. 

The Box off-the-shelf mobile business app costs less than $50 a month. In the PC/MS Office/LAN ecosystem, $50 per month might buy you a good PC or Mac but certainly not a whole IT business system that can be run from a smartphone. Box allows me to gran permission to others to share, download and even edit files. It allows me to search every folder and file for a specific word, and every new version of each file is automatically labeled as the current version. 

I use Apple's Pages app for word processing and its Numbers app for spreadsheets and tables. I used the Dragon Diction app to dictate parts of this article and then copies and pasted it to Pages because that is faster and easier than keyboarding. I use Houzz, Facebook and Pinterest with clients to share and collaborate about their projects. 

EASE OF MANAGEMENT WITH MOBILE APPS

Kitchen and bath business information management is about collecting, organizing and sharing info with all stakeholders involved in a project. Managing clients' files and information and effectively communication throughout a project should be top priorities for every IT system. Mobile apps help me singlehandedly manage client communications better than any other IT system I've used because they are more powerful - yet simpler to use - and are always available. 

It takes me about a minute at a job site to take a photo with my iPhone, crop it and save it to my cloud. It's automatically assigned a unique URL (link) so I can immediately share that phot with collaborators, and I'm notified when they open it. With the PC/Office/LAN system, I used to take photos on site and then go back to the office to upload them to a laptop. I would then crop the photos, save them, compose an email, attach the photos, send them to all the stakeholders, and hope everyone would hit "reply all." 

With mobile apps, I can invite people to collaborate with me in real time about the photo I just took. For example, if it's a photo of a framed wall in a project and the framing needs to be changed, I can innate an online conversation with the builder, superintendent, interior designer and homeowner. Everyone can see everyone else's comments, and it's all recorded and time stamped in the cloud.d

Mobile apps can do business in the moment better than any desktop solution possible could, and they can be a huge competitive advantage for folks in mobile businesses like kitchen and bath designers. 

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