Stacey Scott keeps an eye out for innovative technology, especially as it pertains to her company, Elgia Inc. Management of the 10-year-old provider of business process outsourcing services located in Alpharetta, Georgia, began using iPads in 2011 to save time and assist with project organization, and to provide instant accessibility to important documents.
Specializing in branded customer training and contact center re-engineering, Elgia, which generated $3.9 million in 2010, has been able to offer staffers a more efficient way of completing daily tasks including managing calendars; accessing important files instantly via e-mail, the company’s network server, or file-hosting providers such as DropBox; and communicating either through standard messaging or FaceTime video chat, essentially helping the small business complete its ultimate goal: closing deals and enhancing customer experience.
After trying the tablet out personally, Scott, Elgia’s CEO, knew it was time to bring the less than 2-pound gadget onboard. Since making the executive decision, Scott has traded in her laptop for her iPad 2 when on the go, whether she’s traveling to and from the office or on-site at a sales meeting. “It allows me to use my time more effectively, and since my time is spent primarily on business development, then what it helps me with is making more money,” she says.
Other small businesses are looking to reap the benefits of mobile technology. A survey of small business owners conducted by market research firm Compass Intelligence and commissioned by AT&T–Elgia’s largest client– shows tablet usage among small businesses is set to increase dramatically in the near future with 60% of small business owners planning to purchase tablets within the next year, either for themselves or their employees. However, only 7% currently offer employees tablet PCs.
The AT&T survey also revealed small businesses use two to three mobile apps for their regular operations, and Elgia has taken that one step further, developing applications in-house that both assist employees internally and support the company’s service offerings.
Whereas Elgia’s management previously had to schedule appointments with clients to see additional materials, now they can pull up all relevant information instantaneously. “I’m able to access any information from anywhere, anytime of day, so it just puts the company’s financials at my fingertips,” says Elgia COO and acting CFO Jennifer Wolford. “That’s been the biggest benefit.” Several management team favorites include: WebEx and AT&T Connect (for Web conferencing); e-mail (for up-to-the minute correspondence); and customized apps that allow the team to monitor metrics and operate more efficiently.
Elgia’s IT department plans to launch several apps this year, such as an employee life-cycle app that will assist in the recruiting and hiring process, as well as an app where clients can access training materials. “In small business, it’s really important to know what your leverage points are and how to be able to pull those levers quickly,” says Scott. “The iPad helps us to do that–from making information more available to us, putting it at our fingertips, and increasing the speed with which we can communicate and the number of people we can communicate with in an organized fashion.”
She adds: “We have been able to grow very, very efficient at how we do things compared to our competition.”