by Curt Finch

iPad Invasion: Get Ready or Get Out of the Way

Nov 11, 20114 mins
AppleCIOConsumer Electronics

When considering the consumerization of IT and how it could affect you and your company, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that incorporating consumer technology into the workplace is a scary endeavor, with the primary fear being that of security.  However, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives and you shouldn’t waste your time dwelling on the “what ifs”. Security is incredibly important, but CIOs shouldn’t view consumer devices in the workplace as an annoyance.  Rather, it shows initiative of the employee to make their work life more productive. 

One of the most popular consumer devices being incorporated into the workplace is the iPad.  To learn more about why the iPad is an ideal tablet for the workplace, I spoke with Brian Fino, Managing Director of Fino Consulting, an IT consulting firm that specializes in developing enterprise, cloud and mobile applications for business environments. 

The iPad is obviously a good fit for both business and personal use.  Fino described a widespread trend occurring in enterprise technology:

“The iPad could be considered a ‘consumer device.’  However, what we’re seeing is that a consumer device really means a device built for easy and intuitive use.  Businesses have long been focused on building large, monolithic, complex software. People are now asking, ‘Why can’t my business software be as fun and easy to use as the apps I download to my iPad?’  The iPad is a good fit for business use because applications are designed and developed with the end-user in mind.”

This reminds me of the early wars between Apple and IBM. IBM excelled in the big, monolithic computers for the workplace, while Apple created small, colorful computers for the individual person.  And think of where these companies are now:  Apple created the iPad (among other things) – a slate computer to go anywhere you go, while IBM created Watson, a supercomputer that will probably be used in large industries (most likely the healthcare industry).  One is no better than the other.  Rather, the two companies have completely different goals. IBM develops computers almost for the sake of computer science itself.  Apple focuses on getting easy-to-use technology into the hands of the people.

Moving back to the iPad, I asked Fino what his favorite iPad apps are for the enterprise.  Here are his suggestions:

·         SyncMyPad, while not an enterprise-ready application, is a useful tool for collaborating with teams at the home-office as well as other iPad users

·         Keynote is a must-have application for presentations

·         WebEx and GoToMeeting are necessities for collaboration

The iPad is also ideal for field-based sales teams.  Fino agrees that businesses will begin investing in iPads to aid their field-based sales teams. 

“The iPad is a powerful mobile sales tool able to deliver comprehensive and interactive information and tools to remote sales teams,” said Fino. “Its beautiful combination of both raw computing power and elegant style are perfectly suited for creating compelling sales presentations.”

Apps and products have already been developed to help people get paid for their services on the go.  For example, the app Square allows you to download the app and sends a credit card reader which you can connect to your iPad.  Thus, people who usually rely on cash or checks can now give their clients the option to pay via credit card (because who carries cash or checks anymore?).  Not only can sales teams present on the go, they can even begin to close deals on the go as well.

I asked Fino what business apps he expects to be developed for the iPad in the near future.  Mobile collaboration, a common topic for me on this blog, came back into view:

“We hope to see an increase in mobile collaboration tools that will allow teams to share content, media, and participate in interactive and immersive collaboration. The business application market is almost non-existent; we expect to see significant growth in this area.”

How are you using the iPad to increase business opportunities?