In the Trenches: The Difficulty of Going Mobile

We’ve all heard the news: Nearly a third of U.S.-based web traffic is mobile, PCs are dead, and if you aren’t using a touch screen, you aren’t cool. That means your small business needs to be “mobile friendly,” which generally requires enabling your employees to work via smartphone. The latter task is harder than it may seem.

In our business, clients may need us 24 hours a day, so it’s important to have access to our systems, regardless of where we are. I personally carry a portable Wi-Fi router so that I can fire up my laptop anywhere I have a cellular signal. But I don’t always carry my computer with me, and sometimes other staffers are on duty. It would be great if everyone could do business via smartphone, a device we all use throughout the day.

For instance, over the weekend, I had two urgent calls come in. I had just stepped out of the office and was caught without my laptop. If only my smartphone could have accessed everything I needed!

It’s easy to handle email and web-based applications on a phone, but many businesses out there have at least one clunky old app that seems like it’s from a bygone era. In our case, it’s Sabre.

Sabre is the largest provider of travel-agent reservation systems in the U.S. The agency we’re affiliated with uses that system. It took Sabre a long time to support Macintosh computers, and it finally entered the mobile space in November by launching an iPad app. But the app doesn’t work on iPhones, and we’re an Android shop anyway. I’m sure Sabre will get there eventually, but for now, this critical system is virtually impossible to use in a mobile environment.

I’ve considered the alternatives. Competing companies such as Travelport have fully functional mobile apps, but it’s not easy to switch. We would have to likely change agency affiliations, and that’s not a simple thing to do.

For now, we’re kind of stuck working in a non-mobile world. What tips do you have?

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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3 comments
nbarnard
nbarnard

Hrm.. Probably doable since Android phones should have a VPN capability. Perhaps another way around it is to have a shared computer that is always online at the office, so folks VPN/LogMeIn to to access Sabre... That should work. You could also could pay for a computer in the cloud for this ability.

nbarnard
nbarnard

Meh, can't you just get a terminal emulator for you phones and access sabre that way?

crankyconcierge
crankyconcierge

@nbarnard  Quite honestly, I wouldn't even know how to do that.  It uses a VPN so I imagine this would add all kinds of complexity if it's even doable.  Talking to Sabre, they say you can't.

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  1. [...] In the Trenches: The Difficulty of Going Mobile – Intuit Small Business Blog In particular, this is about the difficulty of getting your employees mobile. There’s always that one old system that causes problems. For us, it’s Sabre. [...]