(ARA) - Smartphones are steadily becoming commonplace devices for everyone from professionals to busy moms. Users of these devices now instinctively turn to their phones for tasks that previously they would only have accomplished on a computer, over the phone or in person. These tasks include surfing the Web, obtaining driving directions, connecting via social media, and even shopping.
In the United States, 87.4 million people own smartphones. And, in 2012, smartphone sales are expected to top sales of personal computers. As smartphones allow people to connect with businesses in new and exciting ways, businesses in turn need to become savvier about going mobile.
For example, a small home health care provider recently utilized smartphones to expand to 400 patients across four major counties in Utah. Its employees previously struggled to keep up with all the paperwork and regulatory requirements, so the company decided to go completely mobile, equipping its entire staff with Microsoft Windows Phones. This allowed the staff to visit patients and instantly update their condition and treatments.
For small businesses, embracing the smartphone age is becoming crucial for success. Here are some easy ways small businesses can go mobile in 2012:
* Invest in smartphones - Transitioning from a flip phone to a smartphone makes it much easier to run a business on the go. Providing easy access to email, calendar information and the Internet, smartphones increase productivity and can provide peace of mind while out of the office. Today, smartphones are more affordable than in the past, so now is a perfect time to take advantage of their capabilities.
* Consider industry-specific devices - Numerous mobile technologies, from smartphone applications to tablets, have been created with specific industries in mind. For example, rugged tablets that can withstand the elements are available for those in the construction industry and tablets created for the health care industry can be sterilized between patient visits to avoid contamination.
* Make websites mobile-compatible - In an era in which most consumers first go to the Internet to find local service providers, it's crucial that small businesses have a polished and informative online presence that's friendly for mobile consumption. Even for business owners who aren't tech-savvy, starting a website is feasible. A quick Internet search will reveal numerous free or low-cost website templates. You might also choose to work with a Web developer to ensure your business's website is smartphone-friendly.
* Get social - Popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it simple to connect with customers in a casual, but also personal, manner and also embrace the mobile population that frequents these sites on smartphones. Consider leveraging one or more of these platforms to further establish your business's online presence and create positive buzz around new offerings and special deals and promotions.
For more ideas on how to easily boost your business with mobile technology, visit www.microsoftbusinesshub.com