When Apple revealed the iPad they issued a new product in yet another new device category - one that finds a place along side desktop computers, laptops, netbooks and mobile Smartphone devices.
And in doing so they have changed the playing field and allowed companies to rethink the way we are able to work in an ever changing information driven society.
The iPad really represents a paradigm shift in computing, the first really successful and widely adopted entry into full touch screen based computing. It introduces yet another business tool that companies can consider in an effort to be ever more efficient and productive.
Benefits of the iPad in an Office Setting
There are a variety of features that make the iPad attractive and highly effective in an office setting, including:
- Light, small, interactive and easy to use.
- Quick power up and exceptional battery life. In the time it takes to power up a desktop or laptop computer you can already have read a few emails and begun taking notes or reading a business document.
- Capable document reader, supporting the most popular business document formats including Microsoft Office and PDF.
- Internet browsing device, offering a comparable full desktop browsing experience.
- Email, contacts and calendar capabilities - supporting the most popular email providers including Microsoft Exchange.
- Capable networking device providing support for both Wi-Fi and 3G data connectivity - providing flexibility to support business needs.
- Enterprise class security features including certificate and VPN support along with device management and provisioning capabilities.
Limitations of the iPad in an Office Setting
There are a variety of features that distinguish an iPad from other technological devices and while quite capable, it could be argued that it is not yet a replacement for any one tool we use today. By design, its simplicity and ease of use comes at the cost of limited features. It is therefore important to note some of these limitations within the context of an office setting, such as:
- Difficult to secure private business content, especially when considering this is such a social device.
- Content creation is more difficult on an iPad than on a more traditional desktop or laptop computer system.
- Websites that use Adobe flash technology to power their sites cannot be viewed on the iPad.
- Working with Microsoft Office documents on the iPad can lead to file compatibility/formatting issues.
- No accessible native file system for document management, forcing one to consider 3rd party application solutions such as Dropbox.
- Showing a presentation can create formatting and conversion challenges with programs not supported by the iPad (such as Power Point) and external display functionality (VGA out) is supported at an application level, not the device level – limiting the applications available for presentation purposes.
The iPad is clearly generating a lot of buzz, with adoption being seen across both private and public sectors of business including the recent announcement of the Saskatchewan cabinet ministers using iPads to improve efficiency and productivity within government.
The iPad is a powerful portable device, shaping up to become a great new productivity tool for use in day-to-day business. It opens up the possibilities to a new way of working, accessing and presenting the data and information that drives companies today.