Let's get mobile
Two Tulsa-based companies take advantage of an online trend.
When it comes to Internet use, going from the big screen to the mini-screen isn’t as easy as it seems.
As more people access the Internet from hand-held devices, companies are focusing on designing Web information to be viewed on a smaller screen and accessed from a device that moves with the user.
Two Tulsa-based companies, MacroSolve Inc. and mobiManage LLC, are helping to make that transition happen — and are shaping a new wave of innovation.
“There’s this false assumption that anything that’s on the Web is going to be mobile and it’s going to look the same,” says Jeff Beasley, president and CEO of Bluefrog Interactive, which developed mobiManage.
The big screen/little screen divergence began with two simultaneous technology developments. While Internet use skyrocketed in the 1990s, wireless telephone networks were expanding as well. Now, cell phones capable of checking e-mail and handling data such as pictures and music look like small computers.
This diffusion of pocket-sized devices capable of transmitting large amounts of data wirelessly — think iPhone — is changing the face of business and the Internet itself.
Beasley was a married 21-year-old student and father of two when he and a friend started a Web site development company literally in his garage. Although the company still exists, Beasley is no longer connected with it.
The Internet entrepreneur, now 31, eventually went on to start other successful projects, including mobiManage. Launched in May 2008, with sales efforts beginning in September, the company grew by more than 200 clients in just 60 days, Beasley says. Bluefrog Interactive serves as the incubator to protect and explore new ideas such as mobiManage.
In brief, mobiManage tailors information on its clients’ mobile Web sites specifically for the user on the move. Information on mobile Web sites, Beasley says, is not the same as on traditional sites. It is often briefer, but the guiding principle is that it will be tailored to the mobile user, so information that a person needs and can access while on the go is the essential component.
Say you’re enjoying a burger at James E. McNellie’s Public House in downtown Tulsa and thinking of trying one of the new local brews from Tulsa’s Marshall Brewing Co. Just pull out your mobile device, hop on the Marshall mobile site and in under a minute you know that the Sundown Wheat beer, with its hint of orange peel and coriander, is just what you need to wash down your meal.
Founded 12 years ago just as the move toward mobility was getting under way, MacroSolve helps companies make their existing operations more efficient by making mobile technology available to them in creative, useful ways.
“We’re making mobility mainstream,” says Clint Parr, the company’s president and CEO.
MacroSolve is accomplishing this by offering the benefits of mobile technology to more and smaller companies, rather than it being limited to larger organizations that can afford research and development departments to explore mobile options.
After Hurricane Katrina, for instance, MacroSolve worked with a global construction firm that provided temporary housing to people who lost their homes. Guidelines dictating where trailer homes could be placed, such as a defined proximity to electric lines and grocery stores, made the undertaking cumbersome.
MacroSolve developed a program that made the entire process more efficient. By using a mobile device rather than a clipboard, employees could transmit information from the field immediately. Relief workers were able to work longer and faster to provide housing to the victims of one of the country’s worst natural disasters.
“You don’t build companies around technology; you build them around people,” Parr says.
With knowledgeable people in both ventures and dramatic growth in the market for mobility, both companies look forward to a bright future in Tulsa.
After all, as Parr says, “any industry can take advantage of the benefits of mobility.”