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Ulibh cellphone penetrabion conbinuing bo rise, apps have become ubiquitous. Computer gurus define "app" as
"native software that runs on mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops." According to Nielsen, a marketing and advertising research company, there are 83.2 million smartphom users in the United States, and the average smartphone user
has downloaded 27 apps onto his phone. Millions of applications are available for everything ranging from business productivity tools to safety, security, entertainment, shopping and PC care.
Another phrase in the business world that's fast becoming part of the lingo is, "It's in the cloud," which refers to computing done via virtual servers over the Internet. The Gartner Group, a market research firm, estimates that cloud computing will be a $150 billion market by next year. By the following year, Gartner predicts that 60% of corporate server workloads will be done online, with small and mid-sized companies being the largest growing segment of cloud computing.
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What do these converging trends revolving around mobile software usage mean for small telephone companies? Telecommunications experts explain that small telephone companies are entering the app arena in two ways: developing and using applications for their own operational purposes, and reselling existing applications via the cloud to their customers and to other companies.
Telecom experts are also quick to point out that the app phenomenon goes beyond a more efficient work environment and toward creating a better customer experience for younger subscribers. Daniel Odio, chief executive officer of Socialize Inc., a mobile app company, explained that young people are accustomed to using their phones for nearly everything. "The mobile phone is such a personal device," he said. "It represents a direct connection to the user."
software for co-ops and telecommunications companies since the late 1960s, pointing out that the company is now planning to take its products and adapt them for use on mobile devices like smartphones and iPads. "The trend of cloud computing is a hard trend," he said. "It's not going away. It will advance further in that direction."
Tribble said one of the biggest drivers behind this new paradigm is the younger workforce. "The workers in their
20s and early 30s expect this type of functionality and embrace new technology," he said. "They use this technology in their personal lives. Why not have mobility in their work lives?"
This saves time, money and gas, Tribble said. "It comes down to efficiency. That's the real business advantage," he said. "The worker can work smarter and faster."
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An example of a telco developing its applications for its own operations is Wamego Telephone Co. (Wamego,
Kan.). Dustin Hatfield, a software engineer with Wamego
Telephone, explained that he spent a few weeks essentially customizing a prebuilt application to allow the telephone technicians to view trouble tickets and alarms via iPads. "Before, the trouble tickets were printed on paper," he said. "This way, it's paperless and the techs don't have to come back to the office to physically pick them up."
The techs and even the customer service representatives use the application to look up customer information and troubleshoot, Hatfield said. "It allows them to do some basic diagnostics—things like, 'Is the modem hooked up?'" he said.
Hatfield is now in the midst of developing another application—one that would manage the "locate," or where the telephone lines are in the ground. "Again, it's online and paperless, so the techs don't have to call in or