smb-tech-trendsWithout any sign of a midlife crisis, the mobile phone turned 40 this week. On April 3, 1973, Motorola engineer Martin Cooper, head of a Motorola team working on mobile communications, placed the first mobile call on Sixth Avenue in New York City. Still it wasn’t until 10 years later that Motorola made the cell phone available to the mass market.

Cooper might not have known then (or did he?) just how ubiquitous the mobile phone would become. A lot has happened over these 40 years to make the mobile phone one of our most popular modern conveniences.  For starters, the original DynaTac phone was 2.2 pounds – hardly pocket size. Today’s smart phones are of course far smaller and like the proverbial Swiss knife – a true multipurpose device for applications that weren’t even a glimmer on the radar screen in the 70s. In addition to placing and receiving calls, today’s smartphones support emailing, texting, storing and sharing digital images, downloading music, social networking and more.

Increasingly among small business owners, the smartphone is a convenient platform to conduct a phone conference even on the fly when you’re on the road.  If visuals are needed to accompany the conference, a smartphone could do but a tablet or laptop are far more practical solutions considering the difficulty in trying to scroll around on the tiny smartphone screen.

conference callSmall Business Trends asked for my advice to ensure that your small business mobile conference calls are clear, continuous and safe regardless of what mobile device you use.  Here are some of my tips from “Mobile Conference Calls: Taking It on The Road.”

Hands free advantage: You certainly can hold your phone – or even tablet – up against your ear or use their built in microphone/speaker capabilities, but it’s not always convenient or clear.  Using a hands-free headset, you can be far more productive. While you are talking, you can take notes, move the mouse around the screen or get up and access a file if you need additional background information. A quality headset also optimizes sound quality – cancels background noise – to make your call more effective. And of course there’s a safety issue if you are in the car where you want to be hands free, even if it’s not always the law (10 states have outlawed hand held phones while driving).

App – propriate: There are special apps to enable conference calls and many are free. Plantronics has one we call InstantMeeting for iOS, Android and Blackberry. When it’s time for the conference call, you receive an alert on your app. With the touch of a button, the app dials in and enters your passcode, automatically putting you into the call. No more scrambling to find your password or incorrectly entering it and having to start all over again.

Web conference device compatibility:  There are a number of web conferencing capabilities from large companies like Cisco’s Webex and smaller companies such as AnyMeeting. Whatever you choose; be sure it’s compatible with your device before you schedule your first conference.

Happy Birthday mobile phone! Mr. Cooper and his team made the right call with this technology. Don’t you agree?