This is a prescription for operating a business remotely using an iPad and the Cloud. The biggest obstacle to overcome is “change”. It’s not going to be the same – sometimes better (mostly) and sometimes worse. The biggest gain is “freedom”. When you’re able to travel with nothing more than an iPad – it feels awesome!
First, let’s talk setup. For the iPad, I always buy the lowest end versions (this applies to the iPhone as well). You don’t need a ton of storage – if you do it right, you’ll be accessing everything you need in the Cloud.
I’ve had my current iPad for about a year and still have over 6GB of storage available out of 16GB (mostly magazines). The low end only offers connectivity to the Internet through WiFi – and that’s all you
need. Here’s why – regardless of provider (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon), you can either upgrade your smartphone to act as a wireless WiFi hub, or you can buy a standalone hub (I have both). This means I can allow other devices to share my Internet connection (comes in handy when traveling with colleagues who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access the Internet remotely). With that said, most of the time I have access to the Internet via WiFi (from home to the office to a coffee shop).
Now, let’s talk about Apps.
You are going to hear about Evernote until you finally try it and revolutionize your world! After I pay a bill delivered via paper invoice, I snap a shot of it with my iPhone using Evernote and it syncs to all of my devices, properly categorized and tagged (so I can easily find it later). Great for being prepared at tax time. The original is shredded. I also use it to store whiteboard sessions – again properly labeled for future access.
Sometime, you’ve got to draw it out to get everybody on the same page. When I have access to a real whiteboard, that’s what I use, but when I’m at a coffee shop I use an app called Jot. It’s also awesome for taking notes. It combines the ability to type text with finger drawing. And, you can move elements around after you’ve created them (unlike a whiteboard).
I use Workflowy to keep my brain organized (borrowed from their tagline). This has to be among the simplest, yet powerful applications out there. It is essentially a bullet list – but the ability to expand/contract, indent, and focus is amazing.
I use Google Documents for spreadsheets. For two reasons: 1. stored in the Cloud, and 2. highly collaborative. You can access directly through Safari or use one of several Apps. On the iPhone, I use an App called Sheet2 (while small – it makes spreadsheet manipulation a snap).
Again, I use Google Documents, but I opt for an App called Office2 HD to craft text documents. It seems to work better than Safari when stylizing text (bold, bullet points, etc.). If you write a lot (like I do), you might want to add Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard and the Incase Origami Workstation for the iPad (compact way to add a real keyboard). Another great app for creating documents is Phraseology – in fact, I use it to write articles for Cloud Magazine.
You guessed it – Google Docs again. If you need to project your presentation for viewing by an audience, it requires the purchase of specialized adapter from Apple – Digital AV ($39) or VGA ($29).
If you need to access your traditional computer from the road, I recommend LogMeIn Pro. I have an iMac that I use for Photoshop at home. And, I can use LogMeIn Pro to perform basic image manipulations remotely – sending the result to myself via email. If you’re lucky enough to have a virtual desktop – then you just access it from your iPad and work like you would from any computer.
Here’s the challenge – get equipped and then do it! Just leave your laptop behind, grab your iPad, hop on a plane, and enjoy more freedom on your next business trip!