The human population is approaching 7 billion.  Without conducting any scientific research, we can safely assume that nearly 100% of this population has hearts…literally if not metaphorically.  Another global commonality that is ever increasing is the possession of (or access) to a telephone.  A 2010 report cited that over 1 billion people worldwide have a fixed telephone line.  Another study by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) informs that at the end of 2011 there were almost 6 billion cell phone subscriptions.

This vast penetration of phone technology has led some to label telephones the “universal appliance”.  The simplicity in using a phone cuts across cultures, disabilities, race, gender, nationalities, pedigrees and ages.  The human heart doesn’t come with an owner’s manual and most people learned to use a phone without one.  Pick up the phone, dial the number and it just works.

While landline telephone use is expected to remain stable or decrease over the next few years, cell phone subscriptions are expected to reach 8 billion by the end of 2016.  With a technology that is so widely used, why not harness its power for your business?  The rapid emergence of smartphones over the past few years is more great news for any business.  As of the 3rd quarter of 2012, Americans now use smartphones more than basic cell phones.  The percentage of smartphone users rose from 49% to 56% in 2012 per a Nielson’s study.  A key fact relevant to many small businesses is that a big chunk of their workforce owns a smartphone.  A study by Nielson’s revealed that 74% of 25-34 year olds own a smartphone, up from 59% in July 2011.

The question bears repeating…with a technology that is ubiquitous and simple to use in our society, shouldn’t all small businesses find a way to take advantage of it?  For instance, an 11 second call from a landline, basic cell phone or smartphone can save a small business with remote employees 2-6% on payroll. This savings is just the beginning.  Telephones can be a tool within an employee management system that can create the most productive and efficient workforce possible.  In fact, we would argue that no other appliance, especially with the prevalence of smartphones, could rival its uses either.  We will discuss these ideas in an upcoming post.  Stay tuned.

How vital is the phone to people these days?  Chances are if you tried to take someone’s phone away, it would have to be surgically removed.