Three Cloud Apps to Help You at Work and Play

My first ‘light bulb’ moment on cloud technology came in 2007 when my college roommate introduced me to Google Docs cloud services in my college Library. Researching sources for a final exam government paper, I remember saving the URL sources and analysis notes on a Google document (now called Google Drive) before the library closed at 2 a.m. Back in my dorm at 2:15 a.m., there was my Google doc, just as it was before. Cloud technology made writing this paper smoother than I could have imagined.

Five years later, cloud technology has evolved from simple Google docs, into the rapidly growing ocean of smart phone and tablet apps. As mobile has boomed, so have cloud apps. The ABI research firm forecasts that the number of mobile cloud computing subscribers worldwide will rise from 42.8 million in 2008, to more than 998 million in 2014.

There are thousands of cloud apps, however in my experience there are a few apps stand out above the crowd. Take a look at these are apps I use every day to enhance my productivity, efficiency, and entertainment.

Cloud Apps: Evernote

Evernote
As their elephant logo might hint at, Evernote’s mission is to help you remember everything. It seems to be made for a guy like me who always has ideas flooding into my brain. So, it’s freeing to take out my Evernote iPhone or iPad app. I can make a note, Add a title, Add specific Category tags, and hit Save. I have tags ranging from “fantasy football” to “shopping” to “Dad.” I have nearly three thousand notes saved in Evernote and I am using only 10% of my storage.

What does Evernote mean for marketers? Ideas matter in marketing. I’ve found that the discipline of capturing my ideas, organizing it with a tag, and moving on to the next project works incredible well with Evernote. The idea is not lost because I can access that idea on multiple devices.

Cloud Apps: Dropbox

Dropbox
With 2 GB of free storage, Dropbox allows collaboration with shared folders of Dropbox users. Sharing that favorite song or Microsoft Office document is just “drag and drop.” Recently I received a resume from a friend on my iPhone. With a quick save as “Dropbox” into a specific folder, it’s automatically on all my Dropbox accounts to a shared folder with that user who sent it. Collaboration with Dropbox enables accounts to be linked in sharing specific folders.

Why does Dropbox matter for marketers? Marketing is filled with documents, presentations, images, and video. Cloud apps are changing business collaboration. Option A – sending clunky email attachments or inserting a easily lost thumb drive. Option B – use Dropbox with to move data synced on the cloud with a quick drag of the mouse.

Cloud Apps: Rdio

Rdio 
Cloud music is making a push. Like Spotify, Rdio gives could and social music for a $10 monthly fee, it’s quite enjoyable playing entire albums, playlists like “feel good country” from people in my social network or just strangers. A competitor to Spotify, Rdio brings the social features into the experience, but listening solo is just fine with me at this point. Songs I would normally have to pay $1.29 on iTunes, are included with the subscription. From a cloud standpoint, every artist I added to my Rdio collection syncs on all devices. That same Owl City song I added on my iPad is on my iPhone.

Why is Rdio important to marketers? Social music sharing is a new development in the social media movement. Time will tell how it morphs. A second point is that marketers can always use a good playlist in the background and perhaps more importantly, how these social sharing apps will impact entertainment and commerce. One only need look at Pinterest and The Fancy to see how the social sharing of information and images are beginning to impact e-commerce.

Summary
From a personal productivity, efficiency, and entertainment standpoint, cloud apps can be a real asset. From a marketing standpoint, what can they tell us about how marketing is being shaped by the growth of multi-platform, responsive design cloud-based tools?

Platform independent/Responsive Design
Tech-savvy consumers need tools that adapt across an ever-increasing array of platforms and devices. With creativity and freedom to explore, they are using more than one device to consume and share information (to others and themselves). Responsive design and CSS ensure a good user experience independent of whether the user is on a desktop, tablet or mobile device.

Memorable Branding and Design
Good design is simple yet distinctive and memorable. Evernote, Dropbox, and Rdio have simple and memorable brand imagery reinforced by their app design and navigation. With a 114 x 114 pixel size limitation for an iPhone app icon, an effective design is paramount.

Business Needs are Increasingly Virtual
While we can reasonably debate the pros and cons, the reality is we are not bound by the building we work in any longer. More employees are working remotely. Business development means extensive travel. Coffee shops and airports with free WiFi are convenient spots to log in and use that 15 minutes to check the email. Cloud apps and responsive design are enabling and enhancing aspects of this aspect of the way business is increasingly being done.

Tim O’Keefe is a social media and marketing smartypants. He is also an NFL connoisseur and sports junkie.

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