Web-enabled appliances are all the buzz lately. Article after article tells how your refrigerator will be able to remind you when you need to go and buy more milk, or how you can call your microwave from the office and set it to start defrosting the chicken you placed inside of it this morning. All these features will improve the lives of consumers, but can Web technology along these lines also make life easier for contractors?
You bet it can.
Construction industry professionals all over the country are using hand-held electronic devices to better integrate office operations with work in the field. In fact, so many are using devices of this nature that there's a growing competition among software developers to create better and simpler software specifically for field-use personal digital assistants (PDAs) and cellular phones. Integrating this technology with the Internet is the next step in the process.
General Electric (G.E.), a pioneer manufacturer in Internet-capable appliances, already offers convenience features for contractors on GE CustomerNet, a complete online ordering and marketing system. Targeted at builders, distributors and retailers, the system allows these professionals to access critical transactions from PDA's such as Palm Pilots.
From a PDA or even a cellular telephone, customers can now check current order status and availability. In August, those same customers will have the ability to place orders and request faxes on installation instructions, spec sheets and product data from anywhere.
"Accurate and timely information is critical to the success of business owners today," says Tom Lazzaro, e-business manager for sales and marketing at G.E. "The new GE CustomerNet wireless applications will save our customers time and ultimately money, with their new improved productivity."
On GE CustomerNet, customers can also create and manage an online account, as well as produce custom color brochures and compare and contrast different features of different appliance models, for assistance in sales. CustomerNet can also be downloaded onto a desktop personal computer and accessed via a standard Web browser.
To begin using the new technology, customers must sign on to CustomerNet and download the necessary software. GE CustomerNet is provided for free at www.gecustomernet.com.