FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – One piece of equipment clearly stood out on the construction site at Capital Bar in Fort Worth Thursday. Between the concrete and the framing, was a man walking around with a tablet computer.
Shawn Shields was taking pictures of the new sidewalks, new walls, plumbing and electric connections. They were instantly uploaded so personnel miles away at the Woodcrest Construction offices could see what he was looking at.
If they didn’t like what they saw, Shields could have the foreman on site fix it instantly.
“He doesn’t have to stop what he’s doing to come back to the office to describe what he’s dealing with in the field,” Shields said.
Woodcrest made the move to tablets and smart phones just one month ago. As the small business tries to grow into a big one, Woodcrest believes the technology gives them an advantage in a competitive industry.
It’s part of an emerging trend of small businesses adopting high tech tools. According to an AT&T survey, it is taking off particularly in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area.
Dallas ranked first in a survey of cities on the importance of, and use of, wireless technologies by small businesses. It beat out cities like Miami and Washington D.C.
Sixty percent of small businesses said they were likely to use wireless technology to have all their employees work away from the office.
“It really is saving them time, money, energy, cost, all of the above,” said Alejandra Arango with AT&T.
The company expects more than half of small businesses to move to high-speed tablets and phones by the end of 2013.
Shane Kimbrel had his company of 10 make the move a few years ago, and says it paid off.
“We would get complaints from customers saying, hey send me a bill,” he said. “Because we literally couldn’t get the paperwork processed quick enough.”
Kimbrel’s company, Data Magic, services computer networks. However, it was still using hand-written notes and a long paper trail to record work orders and assignments.
The company outfitted all its technicians with high speed phones and an application called TeleNav. Work orders are now sent via computer, directly to the technician’s phone.
It then gives him directions, and uses GPS time stamping so he doesn’t clock in until he actually starts work at the job site.
Technicians never waste time going to the office Kimbrel said, and are sometimes completing twice as much work in a day.
“It’s gonna make it easier to grow in the future,” he said.
The same AT&T survey found 72 percent of small businesses are already using tablet computers in some form, even though the technology is just two years old.