In any form of business we all rely on technology to get the job done. If your daily contracting work routine revolves around “office, car, meeting, car, office”, your choice of gadgets can mean the difference between just succeeding and excelling.
Here, Martin Bailey, author of The Useful Book of Gadgets, Gizmos and Apps takes a look at the most useful business gadgets to use on the go.
First off, let’s start with the ubiquitous smartphone. Everyone has one, but it’s not the size (or indeed the brand) but what you do with it that counts. Pre-loading your phone with a few choice apps can really help accelerate your communication to both the office and customers. Scanner Pro (iOS, £2.99 – similar apps on other apps stores) turns your phone into a photocopier, allowing you to quickly create multi-page PDFs on the go, and allowing you to sync with cloud services such as DropBox or send them via email. Content can be categorised and searched, and it also includes a number of image correction tools to ensure that scans look straight and crisp.
Camcard (iOS/Android, from free) takes you another step towards the paperless office by scanning all those business cards of people that you meet and instantly forget at trade shows and meetings. A quick scan and the card content is intelligently dropped into the right fields and saved either into its own database or direct into your phone book, and you can also append notes or take a photo of the person to associate with each record. If you attend trade shows regularly you can create groups, meaning that you can quickly build up a searchable and sharable database of contacts.
Now that you’re relying on your phone a lot more keeping it powered up becomes all the more important. It’s worth adding a Nomad key to your keyring (around £15, Lightning or micro-USB socket), ensuring that you’ve always got a power cable on you to grab a sneaky few minutes of charge whenever a USB socket presents itself. Couple that with a good portable battery and whether you’re using your phone for Camcard or Candy Crush it will always see the day out. Anything above 6000mAh should give your phone around three full charges and are available on the likes of Amazon or eBay for £10-20. If you want a battery with an ace up its sleeve, take a look at the Juno Jumpr. Not only will this sleek, slim battery charge a smartphone around four times but it can even jumpstart a 2L engine sized car! You’ve only got to use that feature once for it to pay for itself.
Not enthused by the price or battery life of the Apple Watch but want notifications discretely delivered to your wrist? A great alternative is the new Pebble Time 2 (£179). The always-on, larger colour e-paper display may not be as bright as watches with LED screens but the 10-day battery life more than compensates, and the screen is readable in daylight. Any app that’s configured to notify you on the lock screen of your Apple or Android phone will give you a vibration alert and message on the watch, with the option to reply to texts. The Pebble app store has 10,000+ apps, but most users won’t go beyond using basic notifications and controlling their music. It ticks the sports box too, being waterproof to 30m and including step, sleep and heart rate monitoring.
Finally, whenever you travel on business the last thing you want to be is stranded without money, and with credit card fraud become more prevalent due to ‘RFID scanning’ of newer contactless cards it is more important than ever to protect them. The SECRID wallet (from around £22) shields up to six cards from being scanned whilst contained, and with a flick of the trigger mechanism at the base of the wallet the cards fan out so that each one is readily accessible, also looking very cool in the process. There’s a range of colours available and you can either buy just the card shield or a full wallet to hold notes, coins and business cards.
Working in the IT industry it is expected that you will be more tech-savvy than most. Selecting the right gadgets can not only give your customers comfort but also making a significant difference to your working day.
Martin’s new book: The Useful Book of Gadgets, Gizmos & Apps is out 4th October & available to pre-order from Amazon now for £9.99.