How Critical is Your Smart Phone?

As a technology information source, here at the CPA Tech Views blog and at the The CPA Technology Advisor we generally focus on how technologies can aid in streamlining workflow in professional practices or even enhance client relationships. The point is often made that effective implementation and adaption is key: In other words, how the technology is being used determines its effectiveness. Well, for some people, non-use can also be an effective strategy. And that doesn't just mean old-school curmudgeons who refuse to see the promise in proven technologies. Believe it or not, some of the top business leaders in the U.S. have shunned mobile phones because of their potential for distraction from other issues. They include Warren Buffett, Tavis Smiley and New Jersey Jets owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. You can read more about them and other modern leaders who are strategically restricting their technology use at this Yahoo Finance article. This might be inspiring to those who see mobile technologies blurring or even erasing the line between work time and personal time, with a resulting diminishing of the quality of both categories (or so it seems to me). But, while these are powerful and busy people who are managing this feat, they are not actively running small service-based businesses that have to be quickly responsive to client needs. And, more importantly, they have assistants to help them- so when it's something really important, even if they don't have a phone, their right-hand man or woman certainly does. Professionals can, however, take some steps to reestablish the line between work and home life, depending on the specific nature of their practice or business, and the needs and retrained expectations of their clients. Seriously, how many accountants have to be reachable by their clients at 9pm (not during tax season)? Perhaps a few, once again depending on who/what those clients are. That thought led a partner of a 15-person firm in Indianapolis to return to a regular cell phone (no email integration) instead of his smart phone. He realized he was mostly spending time doing things he could do from the office, and with two young children he decided his non-work time was more valuable. You can read more about Adam Decker in a profile I wrote about him on our full website, The CPA Technology Advisor. So, for all you smart phone users out there, could you go without it for a week? What effect would it have on your client service capabilities and practice management functions? Or, perhaps you use your smart phone more for personal entertainment features, such as games and other non-work apps. (Remember that texting and some basic personal email capabilities are included with most non-smart mobile phones these days.) It would be a challenge for me, since I mostly use mine for work, specifically Outlook email and calendaring integration and enjoy the flexibility it gives me to be a little mobile during traditional work hours when I must be responsive to colleagues and others. What are your absolute must-have smart phone apps?