How do you use your smartphone? To check email and…what else? If you’re like 80 percent of other smartphone owners, that’s all you do with it, according to the surprising results of a new survey commissioned by Microsoft.

The survey indicates that many local business executives are missing out on the chance to improve their internal operations and boost customer satisfaction because they aren’t using their smartphones and other mobile devices to their full capabilities. Microsoft surveyed 260 small and midsized business decision makers and discovered that seven of every 10 agreed that the smartphone is their most important business tool. Imagine how much more valuable their mobile devices would be if executives used them as a core technology for running their businesses.

Today’s smartphones are geniuses. They’re a personal communications system, computer, camera, presentation device, payment service, GPS and more. You’d have difficulty finding a task that you can perform at your desk that you can’t do with your smartphone. In fact, hundreds of businesses in Dallas use mobile devices every day to streamline communications with customers and to furnish remote-working capabilities.

Your customers already rely extensively on handheld devices to research, locate and communicate with their favorite businesses.  The Microsoft survey, however, revealed that more than half of the businesses responding have not developed any type of mobile marketing efforts to reach these consumers through the devices they hold in their hands all day long. To me, that seems to be a big missed opportunity.

Your business can capitalize on mobile devices—and the tidal wave of consumers shifting to mobile computing and communication—in countless ways. You may want to start by thinking about three areas of impact.

First, think about the ways mobile technology can improve the day-to-day operations of your business. Can you use mobile technology for reporting? Invoicing? Team collaboration? When, for example, First Choice Home & Hospice Care of Utah began using Windows Phone 7 smartphones to enable clinical staff to file paperwork remotely in real time, the company saved $500,000 annually in labor and travel costs.

Second, consider the impact mobile could have on your customer relationships. Mobile technology can bring you closer to your customer, faster. When you use your mobile device to learn about issues as soon as they erupt on Twitter or Facebook, you’re able to respond instantaneously to assuage the distressed customer and his or her followers. Also, you can access all your customer records from your business laptop remotely, allowing you to immediately research and respond to customer issues from anywhere in the world, 24/7.

Finally, ensure that when your business integrates mobile technology, you’re maximizing its potential. Find ways to do this by reading up on your particular device and trying out all of its functions and features. You may be delighted to discover the efficiencies and timeliness it can bring to your business operations.

To learn more about going mobile, visit www.microsoftbusinesshub.com and become even smarter about smart technology.