The cloud is more than just a name for a new type of service. It’s a whole new way of doing business. Cloud apps help us to work smarter, do more remotely, without losing track of files no matter what device you or your co-workers are using. Here are three of my favorite AT&T cloud apps:

1. Associate

I got my start in media on the radio where the golden rule is that you can never have “dead air,” which means you’re never broadcasting silence. That can be a hard rule to follow sometimes where you’re actually in a studio where equipment can fail, guests who call in can lose their connection, or someone in the studio changes the levels on the music so nothing happens when you hit “play”.

You learn pretty quick in the radio business that if you want to avoid dead air, you have to be prepared to start talking at a moment’s notice, and keep talking until the technical issues are fixed behind the scenes.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m better at talking out my ideas than I am at writing them down. A lot of the time, it’s just more efficient to record myself talking on my smartphone than it is to try and write it down! That’s why I like the proven dictation platform, Associate, from AT&T. Associate uses the power of the cloud to encrypt and store recordings in a centralized location, making it easier to access and transcribe them later.

2. Box

Apps like Associate are great for single-purpose uses — like storing and accessing just your dictations in a single location. But your business probably relies on making sure a wide variety of documents are stored securely and shared among everyone working on a project. This might include PDF documents, pictures from a job site, or other image files, text documents, videos, and more. What do you do with those?

Again, the cloud is here to help in several key ways. Box from AT&T is a file storage and sharing platform created from the ground up to help businesses store, share, and access any type of file from anywhere in the world. Because it was created with business needs in mind, Box supports powerful sharing, revision tracking, encryption, access restrictions right out of the… well, right out of the Box! It also integrates cleanly with other software you might already be using, like Google Apps, Salesforce, and NetSuite.

And with apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, you’ll have access to all of these great features, even when you’re on the go.

3. Microsoft Office 365

Cloud storage is just one piece of the puzzle. While making sure you and your coworkers have access to all of the files you need to keep your business running at all times is important, what happens when you need to work on documents, spreadsheets or presentations on the go?

A tool like Microsoft Office 365 from AT&T cuts through the clutter in a few key ways. For one, it makes sure you have basic access to all of your important documents no matter what device you’re using at a given time. Did you start a document at home but need to edit it in your smartphone? With the web-based version of Word, that’s easy to do. Do you want to work primarily from a tablet but are dismayed by the lack of apps that meet your needs? The web version of Excel is fully featured and will become your new best friend.

But the critical way Office 365 is a more powerful tool than the competition is that for the first time ever it builds powerful collaboration tools into Microsoft Office, allowing you and your coworkers or clients to all work on a document together, without having to email back and forth revisions and do a lot of copying and pasting. The first time you give it a shot and have multiple people building different PowerPoint slides at the same time on a variety of computing devices, you’ll understand why you can never go back to the pre-cloud way of doing things.

What cloud application platform is your business using? Where are you struggling to find new ways to replace the “old way” of doing things with new apps that leverage the cloud? Leave me a comment below and let’s get a conversation started!

Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show, CNN, HLN and Fuse. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.