Five Considerations when Deploying iPad in Your Business
Factors to consider before deploying the iPad.
Hot on the heels of yesterday's post about growing corporate interest in the iPad, in which I had to reconsider my earlier not-too-enthusiastic take on the potential of the iPad as a business tool, I found a great Forbes interview with Sanju Bansal, CIO of business intelligence provider MicroStrategy, which was prominently mentioned in my post, having deployed 1,000 iPads to its executives and sales staff.
Bansal makes a number of interesting points:
- The iPad makes it easier for people to share information. During meetings or one-on-ones, folks can simply slide it across a table. Can you do the same thing with a laptop? Yes, but as Bansal notes (and I agree), people don't often use laptops in that way.
- The iPad is more readily accepted than other devices. While people tended to get annoyed when he used his BlackBerry during meetings, Bansal says "the presumption is you're trying to collect data for the discussion" when you're using an iPad. Because of its large screen and out-there interface, the iPad doesn't create the perception (correct or not) that folks are using devices like a BlackBerry or a laptop to catch up on reading backlogged e-mail. If people are using iPads to collaborate, they probably won't be banned during meetings.
- The iPad may virtually eliminate downtime. MicroStrategy has created an iPad application that lets folks conduct many common transactions like approving hires, bonuses or purchases orders. Approvals now typically take place within 24 hours instead of the three to five days it took before. Says Bansal: "You can be in an elevator or at home and approve 30 purchase orders and keep everyone moving." But is that such a good thing, given a Harvard Business School study that found making workaholics take some time off improved their performance?
- Apple won't have the tablet market to itself for long. Bansal thinks the tablet will yield a large category of computing devices. IT Business Edge's Carl Weinschenk thinks so too and writes about it in a post called Another Game of Bobbing for Apple. Microsoft is prepping a version of Windows 7 for tablets. Companies outside the traditional PC space are entering the tablet market. Rob Enderle writes about one example: Cisco.
- The iPad is just as useful and far less costly than specialized mobile devices. Balsal says a MicroStrategy client that uses wireless bar-code readers prices at $5,000 and up is considering switching to iPads or iPhones to collect barcode information, which is used to analyze sales trends and other data. He says: "A general-purpose hardware and software platform can do the same thing for a lot less money."
- Apple still needs to work on e-mail capabilities. Bansal describes less-than-perfect Outlook synchronization as "the most annoying day-to-day interaction" with the iPad.
- Executives will drive adoption. Bansal says lots of executives are using the iPad and, as with the BlackBerry, that will drive adoption throughout the ranks. He says: "... Once the head goes the body follows. The top executives get them and then they order them for the next 10 or 20 people." Who knew executives were so much like Heather Locklear? Arhaus Furniture plans to roll out iPads to its 52 delivery drivers, largely based on the positive experiences of its SVP of logistics and distribution and other executives.