Smart Phones and The Cloud are really tightly linked. If you haven’t already made the switch to a Smart Phone or a Tablet device (iPad / Galaxy Tab etc), I bet you know someone who has done so already… and, if you’re saying “So what, all I need is a phone”, I’m here to tell you that if you are in business, these devices will revolutionise the way you do business.
As a business owner, you should consider adding a Smart Phone (or tablet) and Cloud technology to your toolkit.
What’s a Smart Phone?
A Smart Phone is one of those “new fangled” phones that do anything but make phone calls! You can receive and read email, respond to email, browse the internet, edit documents, share documents, “do facebook” and more… Essentially, a Smart Phone is kind of a mini computer and yes, sometimes, you’ll use it to make phone calls.
Examples of SmartPhones are iPhones, Galaxy S2, Nexus, HTC Desire….
What’s Cloud Technology???
It’s no big thing really – ultimately it’s the storing of data, or use of Applications that are accessible, on servers that are hosted within the Internet. This means that you, can access them anywhere, anytime. In fact, you’re probably already using cloud technology without being aware of it!
What are Cloud Based Apps…
One of the most common “cloud based” applications is document sharing and the most well known is Dropbox, which will let you set up folders and share them with collaborators all around the world. Dropbox is not the only file sharing app – I prefer Box.com for filesharing because it is more of a collaboration tool rather than just file sharing.
Another common “cloud based” app is Email. Email can be stored on a server somewhere in the Internet and accessed via your phone, your desktop computer, your notebook – or even your VA (if you trust them)! To my mind, one of the best applications to use for cloud based email is Google Apps… (literally branded GMail for your business!)
What about document sharing? Can you imagine creating a spreadsheet and then passing it through reviewers in geographical disparate locations for comment and update? With Smart Phones and the cloud, sharing documents, reviewing and providing feedback is incredibly easy.
Pitfalls of the Cloud
When using the cloud in your business you need to be aware of the security requirements to protect your Intellectual Property. Be sure to generate good policies about the use of your Smart Phone and the Cloud and you can’t go wrong.
Smart Phones and The Cloud – what apps do I use?
One of the biggest questions asked, is what is the best app to use? The answer isn’t quite so simple – we all have our favourite apps, and each one caters to different a style of working.
For file sharing between multiple accounts (box.com, dropbox, google drive etc) on my iOS devices (iPhones etc), I can’t go past the Good Reader app – it makes life much easier.
Sharing on Androids works differently, and I find that most of my applications let me ‘share to…’ another account very easily.
I touch on some apps for Smart Phones and The Cloud in this article but more on different apps at another time though.
Smart Phones and The Cloud – taking over your life?
Whilst these devices can certainly make your life easier and remove the bonds of being desk bound, you have to be mindful of the fact that you can have them with your 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…. and that the divide between your business life and personal life can diminish very quickly (without you even realising it).
The most difficult thing I’ve found is being able to satisfactorily separate my “business life” from my “personal life” – my phone (and iPad) is always with me, and my business emails come in at any time of the day. I’ve had to create a set of operating procedures that allow me to “ignore” business stuff on what I consider my days off. That’s not easy to do – I LOVE what I do and I want to help people and it’s TOUGH ignoring that stuff for even 24 hours. I know I’m not alone either – when you receive emails at midnight on Sunday night in response to a query you sent off during the day, you know this phenomenon is wide spread.