Advertisements at California airports entice busy executives to “play hooky” using handheld devices. After all, the ads argue, if you fix a PowerPoint and answer an email, it’s not really playing hooky now, is it?   This marketing strategy touches on an increasingly common scenario in which the worlds of business and pleasure collide. While this particular vendor is trying to promote the fact that we can spend a day at the beach or on the golf course instead of in an office, it fails to include an asterisk warning us of the downsides of anytime, anywhere access from a machine that can fit in our pockets.   *Warning: This device can be addicting and impede on your personal life. Contact your IT professional if you catch yourself checking emails in your sleep.   Traveling to various accounting shows put a bug in my head that I need a “Crackberry.” It’s not enough that I run back to my hotel room to check my email every time my schedule shows a 15-minute “open” slot or that I have my cell phone attached to my pants so I can feel people trying to reach me in case I don’t hear it ring. I should be able to communicate in the elevator, on the Starbuck’s line and maybe even while showering. (A little electric shock couldn’t be that painful.)   “Please, don’t get a Crackberry,” a friend of mine implored during a hike one recent weekend during which I promised to keep my phone in my backpack—but not turned off—and not to conduct any business until I returned home (are we there yet?) “You’re the picture of a junkie.”   I envisioned myself standing still with a BlackBerry sticking precariously out of my veins and knew his statement was true. The sick thing is, his comment is making me entertain the idea even more…   Having a Palm Pilot, Treo or BlackBerry does not serve as a magic wand in which all business problems can be solved from the road in a matter of minutes, either. This kind of connectivity has obvious advantages. Most companies with mobile workforces can win the argument in favor of providing their staff with handheld machines. Sales people, in particular, can stand to gain from viewing client and prospect data when out of the office, potentially even winning them deals by arming them with pertinent or personal details about an individual or company they may otherwise not have known or remembered.   But as accounting software vendors start boasting about their mobile apps, one has to wonder just how much number crunching customers expect to do on the road.   When pressed, a few of them admitted that companies are only using a select set of features and functionality, most of which involves looking up client data—not necessarily updating their general ledgers.   There’s something to be said for preparedness when entering a meeting, even when closing a deal is not the main objective. There comes a point, however, at which attempting to conduct the type of business you would on a PC on something the fraction of the size just becomes counterproductive.   After all, how much drilling down can you do on a screen that small without straining your eyes so much that the numbers start resembling Chinese characters. Not to mention Swollen Thumb Syndrome.   One software reseller I spoke with is convinced the next generation will be born with extra thumbs in a twisted world of Darwin vs. the BlackBerry, in which the cool kids will wear glasses and the most popular pickup line will be, “Nice Digits.”    

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access