Program Offers App Advice

ST. MARYS — Tablets, smartphones and apps were the center of discussion at this year’s Business Person’s Breakfast Thursday morning at the St. Marys Community Public Library, as Verizon Wireless Advanced Solutions Architect Steve Johnston informed area businesspeople about the latest technology and how it can benefit businesses.

Johnston noted the results of the Gartner Report, which showed the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets.

“Around June of last year, they started making more smart phones than regular PCs,” Johnston said. “Meaning more users actually carried smartphones than actually carried a computer. By 2015, they’re looking at 1.1 billion smartphones being sold worldwide.”

According to the report, more than 350 million tablets are expected to be sold in 2015.

“The amazing thing about tablets is, two years ago, there really wasn’t a tablet,” Johnston said.

“Apple didn’t come out with the first iPad until right around this month ... They’re projecting by 2015, about 375 million tablets are going to be sold. That’s almost as many PCs that were sold in 2010.”

He noted the trends are beneficial to keep track of for businesses.

“It kind of gives you an idea of where things are going and what not only for consumers but for business customers are using to receive data,” he said.

Johnston discussed several applications, for smartphones and for tablets, that could be beneficial to businesses. He first told attendees about ways to make forms electronic.

“A lot of times of times you have forms, you have pieces of paper that people go out in the field and use and they need to document information and need to get the information back,” Johnston said.

“There are several solutions, like Formotus and Actsoft, that can integrate that form into a program to be on the smartphone or tablet.”

He said the solutions eliminate paperwork.

“The form is actually electronically delivered, so there’s no more missing paperwork and there’s no more having to go back to the office,” he said, noting that apps, while not as sophisticated, can also be beneficial and are less expensive.

Johnston also noted the benefits of having a remote desktop, which is beneficial when a company runs specific software that may not work on a tablet or smartphone.

“What these do in a nutshell is when you access information — and these are typically for a tablet — all your tablet is doing is creating a connection, and you’re either going back to your server or your computer and your computer is actually doing all the work,” he said. “All the information on your computer — your documents, your files — you have access to all that.”

He noted that using a remote desktop does not take up memory on the device.

“When you access this from your tablet, all you’re doing on your tablet is creating the connection and displaying the data, so nothing is actually stored on the device,” Johnston said. “So, as soon as the device is turned off, you don’t have to be concerned about corporate data or if somebody steals the device.”

Johnston also talked about the advantages of using cloud storage.

“With cloud storage, you can basically manage all your information in one location,” he said. “You could have videos, you could have forms. Once you update it in one particular area, it’s basically in the server hosted by a company. So, your users, once they log in, they’re accessing the same information, so you don’t have to send the information out to 15 employees, you just send it to one place and your employees log in and they get the most current information.”

Cloud storage, he said, gives businesses the security advantages of a large company.

“You’re never 100 percent secure,” Johnston said.

“The thought behind it is versus you on your little computer and the limited resources that you have, you’re dealing with a professional company ... The idea is that the bigger company is going to have the additional security. Plus they’re going to offer additional things like redundancy, they usually have more than one data center.”

While there are still connectivity issues in the area, Johnston said the decision to invest in the technology should depend on the value it can add to a business.

“The $1 million question is even if it doesn’t work everywhere, if I had mobility to where I could access that information, whether it be from a tablet, a laptop or a smartphone, is there value for me as a business,” he said.

 Attendees also heard an update from St. Marys Community Public Library Publicity Specialist Mary Jo Stilwell about programs and services available at the library, noting the upcoming Gardening Swap and Share program on April 25.

“This is an example of the kind of partnerships that we do within the community,” she said, noting that the library is open to partnering with more area businesses.

St. Marys Community Public Library Director Sue Pittman reviewed the library’s annual report and thanked St. Marys voters for the levy.

“I do want to thank the taxpayers for the levy,” she said.

“It was a 0.75 mill, five year operating levy and it collects approximately $183,000 per year. Because we were able to get the levy money, we were able to keep our promises — the Friday hours came back and we were able to get new computers for the library, which was essential, especially for our computer lab. It was wonderful to be able to buy new books and AV materials ... And we had maintenance projects that needed to be completed. We were able to do that last year.”