iPad in the Enterprise: A Videoconferencing Dream Machine?
The iPad and other mobile devices have the potential to transform how employees communicate and collaborate, essentially becoming magic hubs for videoconferencing and instant-messaging. But remember CIOs, the underlying network is more important than the device.
Mon, April 09, 2012
CIO — Three IT workers with iPads gathered around a whiteboard in a conference room in Boston to figure out how to improve a long-standing technical service— and running into more questions than answers.
It would have been the beginning of an arduous process that included drafting inadequate original business requirements and technical design documents, circulating them to employees inside the operations groups around the world for comment and review, making revisions, and re-circulating improved documents.
Instead, the IT workers struck upon an idea: With only three clicks (or taps) to launch and set up the newly arrived Cisco Jabber app on their iPads, they created a videoconference and invited a key employee in India to answer some of their questions. In doing so, they no longer needed back-and-forth emails and revisions.
"We went from 10 business days of communication down to an hour," says Mike Fitzgerald, managing director and head of information systems at Eagle Investment Systems, a global technology solutions provider serving the financial services industry. (Fitzgerald was also in the conference room.)
Videoconferencing, instant messaging and collaboration on the iPad is gaining steam as more iPads make their way into the enterprise. Companies have become more comfortable with these emerging methods of communication. They're pouring investments into Wi-Fi upgrades and videoconferencing networking technology from tech giants such as Cisco, IBM and Microsoft.
The new iPad released earlier this year could provide an even greater lift. Its fast 4G LTE connection capability and Retina graphics display, which doubles the iPad 2's resolution, seem to be built for videoconferencing. "High-definition video on the iPad 3 is vivid," Fitzgerald says.
Eagle Investment Systems has some 200 employees using corporate-owned iPads with Jabber, a Cisco app for instant messaging, voice, video and conferencing that Cisco extended to iPad and Windows in March. In the next 12 to 18 months, this number should grow to 600 employees. Roughly half of these employees will be outside the United States, in countries such as England, China, Poland and the Arab states.
Slideshow: 15 Ways iPad Goes to Work
It's not just videoconferencing, either. Mobile devices are changing the way employees talk to each other. Late last year, Eagle Investment Systems studied how its employees were communicating internally and found a massive shift underway: more instant messaging sessions than email sessions.
Of course, iPads, iPhones and other smartphones and tablets are great instant-messaging devices. "We think the Jabber component will very quickly become the predominant dashboard for how our users will communicate and collaborate internally," Fitzgerald says.