Listening to Chris Pirillo’s webinar last week “Mobile devices, mobile workers. What’s an IT pro to do?” demonstrated that the cloud and mobile devices are the glue that increasingly link everything together.
Smartphones aren’t just phones, they are computers, and powerful ones at that. They are replacing tasks that used to be done by specialized equipment. Pirillo said his primary scanner is the iPhone Jot Not app and not a dedicated scanner. I installed Jot Not for 99 cents. It’ll scan multiple documents, optimize them, and send them as PDFs or faxes. Most of the time now, you don’t really need a scanner anymore. Plus you can use the iPhone to scan from anywhere.
You can also send the scans to Evernote which does text recognition inside images. I did this with a dozen business cards, which are now searchable by content. This is more useful than having a handful of business cards then thumbing through them to find the right one. Instead, upload the image to the cloud and search by text. Plus, you can do it from anywhere; laptop, desktop, smartphone, or mobile device.
Increasingly, my iPhone and Evernote is my primary way of creating To-Do lists and tracking work with clients. Once the data is in the cloud, it can be accessed anywhere.
I have a specialized database business converting dinosaur Clipper and FoxPro apps to Windows. Prospective clients find me on my business website or through Facebook. They either send the data and code or I log in remotely to work. Most of the time I never meet them in person. Dropbox is my main way of sending large files back and forth. (Email starts to choke at 15-20 MB attachments. Dropbox has no limits. Plus, if you share a folder, then the files are transferred automatically.)
The Independent Voter Network, where I write about California and Arizona politics, is similarly locationless and in the cloud. Writers are scattered across the country. We ‘meet’ via web conferences and email lists. (BTW, IVN is expanding to other states. More on this soon! Beta site here.)
This isn’t just happening in geek land. Real estate agents now rely heavily on smart phones for getting calls and texts, accessing realtor data, and using specialized apps to unlock lockboxes. Most any type of delivery service also benefits hugely from mobile devices and GPS. Big trucking firms routinely track their trucks this way now.
More and more, I’m moving to the cloud. Having an appointment and scheduling application that only lives on one computer is pointless now. Instead, it needs to live in the cloud and be accessible from anywhere. More and more, this is where business (and daily life) is going. This is also true in the Third World, where low-end mobile phones are a primary way of communicating. Millions may not have traditional computers or even electricity in their home, but they do have mobile phones.