Mobile and Cloud Computing for Small Business financial articles
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Mobile and Cloud Computing for Small Business

By Cynthia Kocialski,


Cynthia Kocialski photoCan you predict the future of computing and mobile from observing the behavior of kids? One of the things I have always noted about my own kids, my nieces and my nephews is the overwhelming attachment to hand-held toys - no, I am not talking about cell phones and portable game players. While those doll houses, sit-and-spins, backyard playhouse, push cars, Lego sets, and other big toys are fun, they don't seem to hold the attention of a child for very long. What kids prefer are smaller toys that are hand-held, can be taken around within their book bags, and can be used just about anywhere. Let's face it, kids don't want to be in their bedrooms playing with some big toy, they want to bring that toy to where everyone is gathering in the house and play where there are more people around. And when it's time to go, they want to take the toy with them and continue playing with it.

Will the Home Desktop RIP?

I see the same thing happening with consumer electronics. People love their mobile phones and laptops, precisely because they are mobile - they are much like those small toys that kids play with more than those really big things. I can see desktop computer systems, which are tethered in our home offices, becoming a thing of the past. As laptops and e-book flow into the school system, our kids will become used to their school work, entertainment, and connectivity carried around in one device and accessible from anywhere.

What Became of the 1930's Family Radio?

Likewise, it's not uncommon in a household for everyone to be off doing something different - maybe I'm on my laptop, my daughter might be reading a book, and so on. Why do I need a TV set for the family to gather around? Will it have the same fate as the family radio that everyone gathered around to listen to in the 1930's? My daughters both know how to watch Internet TV shows and movies on their computers. And yes, both my daughters had laptops or netbooks by kindergarten. As long as they are each getting to watch the TV show of their choice, I don't have to listen to them argue over whose turn it is to watch their show on the big screen.

The typical laptop sells for $645, the netbook around $500, and a big screen 50 inch TV monitor is $1,500. Do I really need that TV? Nope, I really don't. That's one TV for my kids to fight over or three laptops that will create peace and quiet in the house - and laptops do double duty for school work!

Will Mobile Unseat Some Laptop Uses?

For some applications, it's just simpler to access them on a mobile device. I have no need to look up movie show times on my laptop when I can just touch an icon on my iPhone.

Are Small Businesses Migrating to Mobile?

According to a Scarborough Research study, for the average person, the major uses for a mobile device are text messaging, email, Internet searches, and picture or video capture. The home computer use is for Internet access and email. What I've noticed recently is that people aren't even using computers as much anymore. I see small businesses that have been established for some time and have investments in desktop computers continue to use them. But those new businesses run by those 20- or 30-somethings are moving exclusively onto their cell phones to conduct business. My kids, who are your typical overscheduled children, have many afterschool activities and the providers of these activities along with most small businesses I patronize, just use their cell phones to correspond with customers - everything seems to be tagged with "from my iPhone" or "from my Blackberry". Appointments can be made and confirmed with online calendars, bills sent to my email accounts and payments can be made electronically.

Is Cloud Computing Moving Us Back To The Past?

Now consider that cloud computing is moving the compute power of the commonplace software application away from the desktop into the cloud. Why do we need to have QuickBooks loaded on our home PCs when our files can be held in a system elsewhere. I really dislike when my home PC crashes and I have to reload all the software and restore the back-up. I am very willing to let that be someone else's job! Apps were on the desktop because of inadequate connectivity, but the Internet has improved dramatically since the days when this direction was taken. At large sporting events, crowds of fans still cannot all tweet themselves silly because there are network capacity limitations. Greater mobile connectivity is coming.

Once there were mainframes and users accessed the compute power from dumb terminals. Are we moving back to the past, but with a new and improved twist? Will laptops and cell phones simply become the dumb terminal interface to the applications elsewhere?

Okay, you have me. The cell phone screen size is still annoying to me, but I think a lot of that can be solved with designing apps to be displayed on the smaller screens instead of converting user interfaces meant to be displayed on larger screen devices.

Cell Phones and Internet Access Are a Necessity

Nokia reportedly sells 260,000 smartphones worldwide each day, Android sells 200,000, and iPhone sells 80,000 phones. Super smartphones are in the works with on-board memory and multi-core processors.

As city-wide Wi-Fi networks are established and our cars become Wi-Fi hotspots and the vehicular and ad-hoc networks technology improves, everyone will have greater access to the Internet from anywhere and further push the functionality of mobile and wireless.

Every country on the globe has developed their own national broadband plan, and every one I've read, has Internet access for the entire populations and education moving to digital as top priorities. Cell phones and the Internet have become a necessity, much like any other utility such as electricity, water, and gas.

In China, the youth aspire to have the latest and greatest cell phone, not the next generation laptop. They cannot afford both. The same will be true of India - a large population with cell phones, but not necessarily laptops or netbooks.

The Connection to Start-ups

What does all of this have to do with start-ups? There is a big opportunity to make smartphones and cloud computing the platform for small businesses. Cell phones and mobile have made great strides in the consumer market, but there has not been much traction in developing this technology to operate small businesses. Young entrepreneurs, who are digital savvy and already accustomed to smart phones, will prefer this device to conduct electronically. And in regions of the world, where ownership of both cell phones and laptops are not economically feasible, it makes sense to move simple small business apps to the available devices.

About the Author:

Cynthia Kocialski has founded three companies and has been actively involved in more than 25 hi-tech start-up. Cynthia has held various technical, marketing and management positions at IBM and Matrox Electronics. She is a graduate of the University of Rochester and the University of Virginia. She writes a blog at

Published - March 2011


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