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Aggravating, Unruly -- and Essential

Editor-in-chief Amy Cosper on mobility.
February 22, 2011
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/218112

Amy C. CosperYes, it's temperamental, but you shouldn't smash your smartphone. Mobility has the potential to transform your business. Embrace it.

My iPhone is the boss of me. It's a tough thing to admit, because no one likes being controlled by a petulant child. But this beautiful, shiny, smart-mouthed device is in charge.

On most days I forgive the iPhone for its temper tantrums, because its power is awe-inspiring and its glorious apps make my life easier. The instant gratification it provides is unparalleled.

But on some days, the iPhone--well, it needs a good spanking.

The time it dropped a call during a critical discussion, proceeded to proudly take a picture of itself and shut down for a short nap? Forgiven. The embarrassing time its predictive spelling turned the name Topher into the word "toon"? Forgiven. Or the fateful day it erased itself and deleted all contacts, music and photos? Forgiven--but grudgingly, that time in particular.

In the end, we excuse transgressions like those because the iPhone--or any smartphone, for that matter--has transformed our lives, our culture and the way we do business.

The impact mobility has made on business is jaw-dropping. Virtually every sector of business--from food trucks to retail to pizza delivery to day trading--has been altered by mobile technology. The devices read barcodes, act as point-of-sale terminals, kill zombies, help capture leads and drive customers to you in ways never imagined.

In a flash, mobile phones have evolved into fully developed, sleek and accessible digital platforms that allow businesses and brands to become integrated into the customer experience. And that's why no matter what business you're in, a solid mobile strategy is critical.

The coverage in this issue is designed to help navigate the confusing landscape of mobile and help you prioritize. Dan O'Shea cuts through the still-cloudy waters of the nascent mobile web, explaining why developing an app to extend your business is just the starting point for full business mobilization.

Jason Ankeny, meanwhile, explores how mobile is rapidly becoming a payment method, and how your business must prepare to capitalize on the technologies that may finally herald a new era in mobile payments.

And in this month's Innovator section, we look at how upstart mobile app developer shopkick is turning the location-based craze on its ear in the retail business--not only enhancing the utility of location technology, but also giving shoppers a reason to hit the bricks and mortar. That sound retail merchants are hearing is the revitalized cha-ching of their cash registers--or, more accurately, the ping of more and more mobile devices charging up more and more in-store sales.

The smartphone can be an obstinate companion--no doubt about that. But for business owners, it is not only a productivity tool and a communications device, but also an enhancer of customer engagement, a streamliner of transactions and a booster of sales. And those are pretty good reasons to overlook the bad behavior.

Amy C. Cosper
Amy C. Cosper,
Editor in chief
Follow me on Twitter, @EntMagazineAmy