Bluetooth technology connects computers, PDAs, cameras and phones with one another without the need for wires, creating so-called ad-hoc, virtual networks that share information. That information can include everything from photos and videos stored in a digital camera to contact lists from a PDA or your own voice transmitted from a wireless headphone to the cell phone in your pocket. Bluetooth is similar to the popular wireless technology WiFi but operates on a shorter range, three to 30 feet versus about 300 feet for WiFi. It can operate in tandem with WiFi and other networks so this isn't an either/or choice. Thanks to Bluetooth's easy connectivity, a small business owner can use the technology to:
- Save money because there's no need to purchase expensive cables otherwise needed to interconnect electronic devices.
- Save time and frustration by taking advantage of Bluetooth's ability to connect devices from many manufacturers with relative ease.
- Choose from one of three security settings.
- Send or receive contact information and product information at meetings and trade shows.
- Carry a cell phone safely in a pocket while conversing via hassle-free wireless headphones.
- Create complex networks capable of doing everything from helping fleet operators manage deliveries to linking medical monitoring devices inside hospital rooms.
Get equippedBluetooth-enable your company by inventorying all its existing electronic devices. Some devices - newer high-end laptop computers, for example - already may be Bluetooth compatible. Other equipment can be made Bluetooth compatible with the addition of simple add-on devices. Finally, make Bluetooth compatibility a requirement for all relevant new electronic equipment purchases.
Make Bluetooth part of standard operating procedureThat means identifying common tasks such as cell phone calling or exchanging information via PDAs that can be done more efficiently with Bluetooth. If a group from your company visits a large trade show, each member can focus on a different area, and then wirelessly share photos, videos, and other data with one another later via Bluetooth.
Spread it through the enterpriseAlthough many view Bluetooth as a personal networking technology, some large firms have found ways to incorporate it throughout their operations. Examples would be stores that use barcode readers connected wirelessly to cash registers, trucking companies that use it to track shipments and locations.
Address security concerns from the beginningThe more you share data, wirelessly or otherwise, the greater the risk hackers will steal it. Before buying into Bluetooth, understand how to keep your connections secure.
- Create sign-off training materials to ensure employees become proficient at Bluetooth data transfer.
- Develop mandatory security protocols to ensure proper encryption techniques are utilized.
- Build an online company knowledge base of Bluetooth-related documents and Web sites using the links in this guide as a starting point.
- Start Bluetooth users groups along with a discussion group on how the technology can be utilized to further augment company processes now and in the future.
- Make sure all employees with purchasing authority are aware of the requirement to buy Bluetooth compatible products when possible.