Providing smartphones and tablets to salespeople in the field has proved a boon to companies that say touch-screen technology and applications have improved employees' access to customers, important database tools and secure messaging. "It used to take 4.5 to five days to get a merchant application through approvals. Now we're down to just about a day," said Tom Bannon, chief operating officer of Century Payments. Companies are also giving employees easier access to e-mail and apps while they are on the go.

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