There is a perfect storm brewing and if you are reading this it is very likely that you are caught in it. The storm is the convergence of cloud computing and the meteoric rise of smartphone usage. If you have a smartphone (iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, etc) odds are that you surf the net with it. According to a study commissioned by Google*, 81% of smartphone users browse the internet. Furthermore, nine out of ten smartphone searches resulted in an action (purchasing, visiting a business, etc.)

The expectation for smartphone and tablet use is different than desktop and laptop usage. Smartphone users are typically on the go and they are looking for local information that they need now. Tablet users may also be on the go, but conversely many tablet users are searching in a much more relaxed setting, often checking out information about vacation destinations or their favorite recreational pursuit.

As business owners we’ve got to start giving this new breed of consumer ways to find and communicate with us. According to the research, search engines are the most visited websites by smartphone users with 77%, followed by social networking, retail and video sharing websites. Has your website been optimized for mobile devices? It can benefit your brand greatly.

People are more prone to take action on mobile ads than on desktop computers. Sounding’s Trade Only migrated their marine industry website to a mobile application in Feb 2010. Since then their mobile site visits jumped 480%. Furthermore, the lone banner ad on their mobile site received more clicks in June of this year than any ad on their main website.

Studies also show that smartphones have become an indispensable shopping tool to aid in one’s research and decision-making process. 79% of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping, from comparing prices and finding more product info to locating a retailer or dealer.

If people are finding you on their smartphone or tablet, your team should be able to interact with them the same way. Let’s face it, in service oriented businesses like dealerships, boatyards, marinas and service centers, your team members are on the go. Your sales people should be able to monitor incoming leads on their smartphone and interact with clients on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Web-based lead management systems like those offered by ChannelBlade and ThreeClix allow boat and RV dealers to monitor incoming leads and respond to them in a timely fashion.

For instance, ThreeClix insures that leads from portals and manufacturer websites get delivered directly to a salesperson’s iPhone or Droid. Furthermore, your CRM system should tie back to your dealer management system.

At the end of the day, this convergence is happening because mobile apps are beginning to take advantage of cloud services. I am a big fan of both Dropbox and Evernote. Both of these services work on all of my devices; work laptop, home computer, wife’s laptop, iPhone and iPad. Dropbox synchronizes my folders and files on all of these devices. Regardless of what computer or device I am using, I can get access to my critical files using Dropbox. Evernote allows me to save websites, blog posts, screen clippings and notes in the cloud.

These types of tools would prove very valuable in boatyards, RV service centers or any business where technicians and service managers are on the go. Work orders, invoices and notes can be retrieved from the cloud and viewed from your smartphone or tablet.

These tools have become my virtual memory bank. When you are a big picture thinker like me, I find them invaluable for keeping track of the details I so often forget.

* In partnership with Ipsos OTX MediaCT, a total of 5,013 US online adults (18-64 years of age) who identified themselves as using a smartphone to access the Internet were interviewed. A “smartphone