Chamber helping Shelby businesses go mobile

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By Sherry Hendricks

Kentucky ranks 45th in the nation when it comes to technology according to the Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank.

“This index shows the resurgence of the science and tech sectors, and the importance of innovation in state economies,” Kevin Klowden, managing economist at the Milken, said in a release earlier this year. “States that are traditionally strong in science and technology have come out of the recession on the backs of those sectors.”

Kentucky’s lack of technological savvy is exactly what George Banks said brought his computer expertise to the Shelbyville area. Banks is founder of Computer Hawks, an all-purpose computer store in Shelbyville since May 2012.

Banks has more than 12 years of experience in military intelligence in the U.S. Navy, has a master’s degree in information system management and a host of certifications. He is proficient in all things computer-related, including hardware and software, and is an expert in Web design, including mobile Web design.

Banks is passionate about what it would take to help boost the bottom line of Shelby businesses. He said he believes that enhancing the public profile of a business is a relatively easy task. Having the ability to see your business listed in a Google search, for instance, would catapult exposure and provide a framework for advancing capital.

He also believes there is an advantage in creating a mobile Web site for the establishment. “I don’t have to sell mobile Web sites,” he said. “People ask me all the time, ‘Why do I need a mobile Web site?’ All I need to say is, ‘Because your competitor has one.’”
Mobile Web sites are rapidly surging upward as consumers become more dependent upon their smartphones, tablets and other cellular devices. Searching the Web while on the go is commonplace and seen by many as essential to their way of life, and, for others it is a strategic part of business, whether they are the consumer or the business person.

Why have a mobile Web site? Have you ever searched the Web from your phone and discovered that you could hardly read it because everything was too small?

Mobile sites are designed to appear larger, having big buttons so fingers can touch them more easily. They have the basic and most sought information at the potential customer’s fingertips , with links to the standard site if more information is required. Mobile sites have the ability to have the consumer’s phone actually call the establishment or give directions to the store’s location using GPS innovation.


Chambers pushing concept
Recently, Kentucky businesses in general and businesses in Shelby County specifically have taken a small step forward along the technology super highway. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives is a partner organization that serves in an advisory position to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. KCCE provides technical assistance, onsite consultation and training to local chambers on organizational and operational matters.
Ali Crain, executive director or KCCE, said she is excited and pleased about her organization’s mobile Web site that was launched just a few weeks ago.

“It is clean and efficient and provides the opportunity to put in the most essential elements,” Crain said. “Mobile use is on the rise, and more people are searching things on their mobile phone.”

Crain says that the KCCE will be recommending mobile Web sites to all of the local chambers across the state as a way of stepping forward in this age of technology and has partnered with Point 2 Mobile, a mobile Web designing company, to provide the service at a discount to their members.

Crain said she is hopeful that in a couple of years most of the Kentucky businesses who are members of their local chambers will have incorporated this technology into their business plans., “It would be a real advantage [for our members] if businesses had this [mobile Web site] as well,” she said.

The KCCE became aware of this tool and Point 2 Mobile through two people, one of whom was Shelby’s own Shelley Goodwin, executive director of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce. In July the Shelby Chamber partnered with Point 2 Mobile to provide its mobile site.

“We have tried to make sure we are staying relevant and staying in touch with all our members,” Goodwin said. “We are open to the changes that have come, like Facebook, changing the way we stay in touch with our members.

“The partnership we have with Point 2 Mobile is very affordable. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be mind boggling to so many who are not tech savvy. Sean Vandevander and Brian Sand make it easy.

“We want to provide services to our members, we want to stay ahead of the trend. We are a little behind the game, and we hope this new platform will bring us up to date.”
Vandevander is vice president of Business Development for Point 2 Mobile and will be working with all the chambers of commerce across the state. He is a passionate spokesperson for using the newest form of communicating with current and potential customers.

“2013 is the first year that mobile Web searches have surpassed that of desktop searches,” he said. “Business owners need to know the value of having their site mobilized. What do they want ninety percent of their customers to see when they search for that respective business?”


Hope for growth

The goal for Shelby County would be that with up-and-coming companies such as Point 2 Mobile working with chamber members and with entrepreneurs such as George Banks advancing his ideas with local business owners, Kentucky’s growing embrace of technology may one day move the state up the list on the Milken Institute's State Technology and Science Index.

Banks said he sees not only room for improvement but potential success for Shelby commerce if business owners invest in innovative ways of doing business.

“I see a rising of today’s networking standards and a massive increase in business and customer communication,” he said.

Robert Hof is a contributor for forbes.com and defines his writing as covering “the collision of advertising and the Internet.” He echoes the opinion of the importance of innovation and commerce in one of his articles just a year ago when reporting on the release of a Google survey.

“What this study makes clear is that mobile user sophistication is growing quickly and expectations of mobile sites are also rising,” he wrote. “As the survey indicates, marketers and brands that fail to keep pace with those expectations will suffer accordingly.”