Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, tablets and smartphones were gobbled up quicker than turkey on Thanksgiving. Most of these will be wrapped up as gifts and could end up being unwrapped by someone you know. Or, if you're like me, you might unwrap your own gift. There are some great deals this time of year, and technology always seems to take center stage. This year has seen the explosion of tablet devices that are priced for the taking, from the Kindle Fire (reviewed) to the Samsung Galaxy Tab (reviewed). These devices, and all their cool apps, will soon find their way into businesses everywhere. The BYOD movement is here, and it presents a great time to introduce some cloud options that take advantage of their mobility. Small businesses might want to leverage the productivity of these devices with cloud-enabled apps.
After playing hours of angry birds and watching every trailer on Flixster, it's time to get serious. There's more to these devices - lots, as a matter of fact, that can turn them into small business productivity suites that can take businesses to the next level.
Taking the next step
Apple's introduction of the iCloud will help people with iPad's and iPhone's jump to the cloud this season. They will most likely see the benefits of cloud computing immediately, as their content is distributed effortlessly across all their devices. Unwrapping an Android device can also spawn productivity in the cloud. Whether using the popular Dropbox app to share data across multiple platforms, or remembering everything with apps like Evernote, there are plenty of cloud-enabled apps in the Android Market to get you going.
If customers are essential to your business model, then there are a few cloud products out there to take advantage of. One such CRM provider is SalesForce, whose products take advantage of the cloud to provide valuable content where you need it. Managing customer data through their cloud-enhanced apps can turn that new tablet into a money-making machine. Having real-time customer information at your touch can make your business more productive. The Android version of SalesForce mobile CRM is still in beta, but look for it to be an essential app when it goes live.
TripIt is a great app that takes advantage of the cloud to store all of your travel info. Although this may seem trivial in the cloud world, it's small steps like these that can lead to larger deployments of cloud products and services. The value of TripIt is being able to access your travel data anywhere and anytime you have Internet access. Your information is stored in the cloud and provides loads of information to make business trips more productive. It even provides the ability to keep others up to date on your travel.
To ensure you can stay connected and tap into the cloud, don't forget to download a good Wi-Fi finder. Even if your device is 3G or 4G capable, it's usually cheaper to use public wireless connections when they are available (with proper security precautions, of course).
Integrated cloud devices
Smartphones have been driving the ability to use cloud products for small businesses for the last few years, but there is so much more that can be done on the slightly larger tablet platform. Of course unwrapping a new iPhone 4s would be nice as well.
Let's look at the popular and budget friendly Kindle Fire. It takes advantage of the cloud right out of the box with the inclusion of the "cloud" button. This allows users to save Amazon digital content for free on Amazon's cloud storage network. Then there is the intriguing Amazon Silk web browser. It uses the Amazon Web Services cloud (AWS) which harnesses the power of a "split browser" architecture. This technology uses software on both the front-end and the back-end, working simultaneously to increase the speed of browsing. It takes advantage of the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and clever product integration to change how web pages are delivered to the browser. Plus, offloading some of the work to the Amazon EC2 increases the Fire's battery life. This may be a game changer for future cloud products. I look forward to unwrapping mine soon.
Having a plan to integrate these devices into the company's network is recommended, along with policies that control this upsurge in BYOD. For more information, check out Patrick Gray's discussion on how tablets can make an impact on the enterprise.
So if you're looking to start implementing some cloud options, you might start with buying the boss a new tablet or smartphone. Then see how long it takes before they want to take advantage of all that the cloud has to offer.
Steven has 20 years experience in information and network security, network engineering, operating systems, technical writing, facilitating, and project management. He holds Cisco, CompTIA and other industry certifications and studied Information System Security at American Military University. He now works as a tech consultant for SMBs implementing security, industry compliance, networking and Cloud solutions.