January 2005

Coming Soon or “I didn’t know they could do that!”

Yes, next year holds as many new changes as this year. Some of the leading technical changes that should become mainstream are:

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). This will allow you to ask the dumpster or air conditioning unit or any object as small as a pill bottle, “What are you, when were you last serviced, who did the work and how long did it take?” Some drug companies are tagging their pill bottles to ensure the contents are not “knock offs”. This technology could actually be placed in the pill itself. Now your significant other doesn’t have to remind you of your medication, he/she just scans your body and they know. Schools are placing the little chips in student ID cards so they can track them coming in and out of the school building, just by tracking who walks through the door. Think of it as a personal “Easy Pass” used for toll collection.

High-Speed Wireless Internet. In the metropolitan areas you will be able to use your hand held personal digital assistant (PDA) or cell phone to pickup your office calls as if you were at your desk (VOIP). Receive and send e-mail message with pictures, sound and if you want, your favorite TV program from your in-house TIVO. Better yet, if you want to know where your drivers are, you can tap into in-vehicle cameras and look out the windshield to see what street corner the vehicle is passing.

Combine the wireless internet with RFID and, imagine, a retailer will press a button and a list of items running out on the shelves will be generated and electronically sent to the suppliers, and the next day’s delivery route truck will drop off the needed goods. Think “Wal-Mart”— they actually allow their suppliers to see their “near real-time” sales activity so they can have inventory available to supply the stores. Once only the “big guy” could afford this technology, now you will buy it at Office Max or Staples.

Internet Shopping for Business. Companies will offer shopping over the internet with small lot size “just-in-time delivery”. Included in the service will be e-mail reminders that recommend, based upon historical usage rates, that you get a delivery to avoid running out of inventory.

Electronic Banking will update your back office accounting package with those latest credit card purchases, checks processed, and deposits received giving you near real-time cash flow control and pre-tax gross profit on a daily basis, while at the same time reducing the clerical work.

All-In-One Devices will continue to combine cell phones, pagers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), radio, camera and musical juke box, combined into the first offering of the multi-media device that can fit into a pocket. A complete mobile office that allows your service technician to complete the work, getting needed equipment and job info, do needed electronic record keeping, create the invoice and get the next assignment. Oh yes, the invoice is emailed to the customer for their records. Far-fetched? Think about the absence of secretaries in almost all businesses. Soon to follow, file cabinets and filing clerks.

How do you take advantage of these trends? Pick just one, and make it part of your business, if you are successful by this time next year, you will have more free time and be better informed about your business. Yes, just one new tool can make a big difference. If you use a cell phone, try wireless email. If you use email, try electronic banking, QuickBooks, with credit card and banking account electronic updates.


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