When Mike Cohan was relocating from San Diego to Pittman Valley near Williams, he turned to Ward Bailey for help. As the owner of Construction Service Associates, Cohan and his wife, Leslie, needed to stay connected. Bailey’s company, Celestial Satellites, LLC, got the newcomers hooked up to the Internet and DishNet TV.
The Cohans live on 10 acres with panoramic views. Along with their dogs, horses and pet pygmy goats, the Cohans are able to continue in the commercial cabinet business, working in a large steel building down the hill from the house. For years, the couple had dreamed of a rural lifestyle. Mike says, “every time we blinked an eye, it seemed like another five years had passed.”
When Mike Cohan became a businessman in 1984, he couldn’t have imagined the technology of 2010. Instead of the several week process of hiring a draftsman and sending the plans off for printing, he can sit down with a client and create construction drawings on a laptop. And Cohan can get quotes from subcontractors via email instantaneously. Between improved cell phone service in the region and Internet accessibility, he is dialed in.
The Cohans’ first satellite Internet provider was HughesNet. Today, they are using WildBlue. The company’s high-speed Internet access was originally developed for rural users and is available throughout the continental United States. A small satellite dish is installed and customers sign up for the monthly service.
Ward Bailey has helped many people like the Cohans. His company, Celestial Satellites LLC, travels throughout the region, servicing new and existing clients. Some of his customers have electrical service, but others are off the grid. “If they have a generator or a solar panel, they’re connected,” said Bailey, who is an electrician by trade and has a low voltage contractor’s license. “We offer satellite Internet products, satellite television products, networking services and custom installation services,” he added. There are also some higher end enterprise solutions, Bailey said.
Celestial Satellites, LLC, has also helped companies like The Nordic Center with their point of sale system.
Expanding Mobility Options good For Business
Cell phones are continuing to change the way business is done. John Thompson, sales manager at Niles radio for seven years, remembers when a color screen was the hottest thing for a cell phone. Now, people have endless applications – from GPS, monitoring security cameras remotely, and some markets are testing the cell phone ATM application, where the device is flashed to the machine instead of inserting an ATM card.
Technology expansions are helping the small business owner by providing more efficiency, said Thompson. “Less travel is required and there is more accountability for employees who are out in the field.” Cell phones make it easier for people to be on call, says Thompson, and offer flexibility so people can work from home. When asked about the future of the industry, he predicts cell phones will be the essential part of the day, tying people into the office and home network.
The game changer for small businesses is the affordability of mobility options, says Mike Rosen, director of product marketing for Samsung Business Communication Systems. He’s helped to create solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses that he says have been hit hard by the economy.
Mobility has helped companies keep good employees and avoid the cost of retraining new people. “One option is the work from home employee who can bring an IP phone to his house, plug it in and get automatically channeled through and connect to the office. His desktop now reaches the office,” said Rosen. Another popular item is the cordless WiFi phone, allowing people to roam around a large workplace like a hospital or a car dealership while staying connected.
One of Rosen’s favorite mobility options is the soft phone. When he travels to South Korea for Samsung, he plugs his laptop into the LAN and logs on as his desk phone. “I can easily make phone calls without worrying about international codes, without worrying about international costs and I can receive my calls,” said Rosen. He also en- joys the video, something he initially scoffed at. “It’s nice to see the person I’m speaking to. It’s really does add to the conversation and it adds to the collaboration.”
During Rosen’s 25-year career, he has had a front row seat in the business communications evolution. “Years ago, we used to focus on bringing automation to the desktop; finally, we figured out that nobody is there,” Rosen said. “We have to bring technology to where the worker is.”
Mobix is an office communication system allowing multiple phones to ring from a single call. Rosen explained, “the most typical application is when you ring my desk phone, it can ring my house phone and my cell phone so I’m never out of touch from my client.” The more sophisticated systems allow you to make a call from a cell phone that appears to come from your office phone. This type of a system can be helpful to companies that want customers to see the office phone number only as opposed to cell phone numbers of salespeople.
New mobility technology is emerging to al- low a person on a cell phone call to walk into the office building and seamlessly transfer the call to an office phone line. Many people store their contacts on their cell phones. The fixed mobile convergence would allow someone to start a call from the cell phone and switch it to the office phone without the other person noticing the transition.
Chris Hazelton agrees with Rosen, that tethering the cell phone to the office or laptop is crucial for small businesses. Hazelton works for the 451 Group as an industry analyst for mobile technology. He says smaller businesses rely on smart phones to compete with larger companies.
In Northern Arizona, where there are still areas of spotty cell phone coverage and limited Internet connectivity, Hazelton says the options are increasing. “You can use a MiFi router to connect your laptop to the carrier network.” (MiFi is a line of small mobile wireless routers to help users connect to WiFi hotspots.) New tools are helping businesses with unified communications through a cell phone.
The next five years will really help small businesses, with the introduction of additional ultra slim devices similar to the iPad, predicts Hazelton. These products are about the size of a standard tablet of paper and will use applications in the cloud. This will be especially useful for a business person who will be able to do email, access a network or look something up online without worrying about an Internet connection.
Two years ago, 72.2 percent of workers in the United States described themselves as mobile workers. By the year 2013, that number is predicted to reach 75.5 percent, or 119.7 million people, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). FBN