A version of this was published in Prairie Business Magazine.

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What do an accordion band, epic beards, and mobile technology have in common? All were featured at the 2015 Midwest Mobile Summit. The two-day conference organized by Myriad Mobile brought 300 people together to connect with mobile strategy and mobile technology pioneers across the region. Mobile industry leaders, designers, and developers provided insight for attendees on how to utilize mobile for business and beyond.

I don’t care about creating the iPad killer, I care about the three billion people who can afford this device.

Keynote presenters from across the nation talked at length about mobile’s business and social implications. Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of DataWind, creator of the world’s cheapest tablet computer, brought a message of accessibility provided by mobile. With a target price point of $40, DataWind has received millions of orders. “I don’t care about creating the iPad killer,” said Tuli, “I care about the three billion people who can afford this device.”

Jake Joraanstad, Myriad Mobile CEO, considers the Midwest Mobile Summit a unique opportunity for people to hear from internationally recognized mobile technology leaders. “BuzzFeed revolutionized how people consume content. DataWind allowed people of all income levels to access technology. Target transformed the shopping experience with their Cartwheel app. And what’s the one thing they have in common? Mobile.”

But, why an entire conference around mobile technology? There are so many other areas of technology that are relevant to business and life, right? According to GSMA, a global organization dedicated to tracking and researching mobile trends, half of the world’s population now has a mobile subscription—up from just one in five ten years ago. By 2020 that number is expected to increase to 60%. Mobile is a cornerstone of the global economy, it empowers people, and it continues to scale rapidly.

Let’s apply that adoption rate locally. Growing up on a farm, I saw my dad spend countless hours in a tractor. Through technological advancements, including mobile technology applications and improved broadband networks, tractors eventually started to become autonomous. But even as farm work became easier to do through technology, my dad was missing an entire digital age because it didn’t fit with his lifestyle. The last thing he wanted to do after coming in from the field was sit on a computer. And let’s be honest. As laborious as farming can be, it also involves much sitting around and waiting. Waiting at the grain elevator. Waiting for a ride to the next field. Waiting for parts. Waiting for the next rain.

This is where mobile comes into play. My dad went from never having an email address straight to having a Facebook account. He completely skipped the PC generation. Why? Because it wasn’t portable. Or quite simply, because it wasn’t mobile. Now through his smartphone, he can check the markets, stay up to date on the weather, send field updates, take photos of crops for insurance claims, and so much more. Most exciting, he can stay up to date on the latest fishing reports and Facebook.

Mobile is not a device. Mobile is a lifestyle.

What does that kind of mobile accessibility bring to other industries? Classrooms? Hospitals? Developing countries? One of the best themes of the Midwest Mobile Summit was said by speaker Mike Bollinger, Founder of Livefront. “Mobile is not a device. Mobile is a lifestyle,” said Bollinger. It’s not a bunch of game apps on your phone. It’s accessibility to information, the ability to get your work done faster, and connecting the world in a magnitude never seen before. That’s why every May we dedicate two days to exploring how mobile can transform lives, businesses, and economies. Be sure to join us next may for the 2016 Midwest Mobile Summit in downtown Fargo.

More information at midwestmobilesummit.com.

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