iPad 2 – for the Enterprise or just an Angry Bird?

By Daniel O'Leary posted 03-11-2011 00:48


I write this article as I’m packing up to camp out at the local Apple store in preparation for the iPad 2 launch. Not because I have to, rather because I enjoy meeting new people and the spectacle that is now synonymous with Apple product launches... and Comic-Con. As products like LincDoc allow the iPad to be used across multiple departments, it becomes much easier to cost justify the expenditure. People won't think you're just using it for Angry Birds. (Angry Birds is the most popular game in the app world in case you were wondering why I keep talking about it)

I’ve have been spending some time lately with customers that are using iPads, talking with them about how to better leverage the devices, and I wanted to share with you some of the ideas that have come out of our meetings:

1. BiPad, I mean a tablet

The iPad is not the only game in town, but still dominates the tablet market, especially in North America. As an app developer, my company has the framework in place for the Android marketplace as well. That being said, to date no customers have standardized on the Xoom or Galaxy or other Android devices, and instead are opting for the iPad. They've cited cost, consumer appeal and familiarity as their primary reasons. Some of teammembers team are ACTUAL Androids, and they agree with this. Please, don’t get me started about the Playbook that supposedly requires a Blackberry to use. And Android fan boys, feel free to prove me wrong in the comments. Gauntlet: thrown!

Lining up for the iPad 2

2. No longer a single purpose device

For business use, the iPad needs to be able to cross the enterprise and move from the IT department and boardroom into the hands of users. I frequently see tablets deployed for field reps, and a powerful new trend is to arm internal users with a more flexible device that accommodates work outside the traditional office. Think conferences, telecommuting, shared workspaces and coffee shops. With that in mind, people want more than single purpose apps that only do one thing—e-mail, chat or CRM. The marketplace is demanding integrated solutions that harness all of the data available in an enterprise and that can bring it to the tablet form factor.

3. Capture on the go!

According to the Gartner group, 85% of business processes depend on forms, which is a core capture area. If you want to optimize your business processes, capturing forms at the point of creation ANYWHERE using an iPad is essential. No more paper, no more scanning! For that reason, you should always look at capture applications as part of your broader tablet initiatives since the ROI is so easy to prove. Just think about all the time spent handling physical paper forms. Now think about the benefits available if those forms never have to become paper. It can actually be daunting. In a good way, of course.

4. Data in the palm of your hand

Imagine having every document, every e-mail, photo, customer contact and business record in the palm of your hand. With an iPad, that is reality! You no longer have to be tethered to your desktop computer to access and retrieve information. And with applications like Box.net or SharePoint, you can have every piece of content in your hand as easy as you can access Facebook. There are some privacy and security concerns here, so make sure you take the time to setup secure passwords, device locks and remote wiping in case you leave your tablet in the back of some seedy cab after the AIIM 2011 conference. (Which may have happened to someone last year.)Capture more than Angry Birds

5. Connect to other data sources

The holy grail of a tablet platform is being able to get the data you need into the systems that you use. I commonly solve this by routing forms and documents captured on the iPad to a wide variety of ECM systems and line of business applications. PDF form to SharePoint? Sure. Put a customer contact form in your CRM? OK. My approach is to provide business value on tablets by capturing data and routing the images and information to a wide variety of systems. Alternatively, if you have data in those applications, you’d be surprised how many apps exist for different applications like SalesForce.com and a huge variety of others. The ROI is crazy, and the utility helps drive user adoption.

6. Holy camera Batman!

Raise your hand if you are excited about having a camera with you 24/7! To give you an idea of how people are using the camera, I’ve built some applications that capture pictures of people, scan barcodes, survey crime scenes and prepare for insurance audits. The visual medium is spectacular and adds an entirely new dimension to your capture strategy. After work, take some glamor shots of your cat. It’s OK, we won’t tell.  

7. Pay for it faster

What if you could cut processing time from days/weeks to hours or minutes? What if you eliminate the purchase of five new scanners this year? These are just some of the benefits users are experiencing because of the iPad and capture applications. Internally, I’ve also deployed the Basecamp app for project management and Highrise for customer communication. In combination, these lead to a really incredible ROI on the device. If you are spending $500+ on a tablet, you need to prove that value, and enterprise apps drive that.

8. Are you smarter than a three-year-old?

No offense to those that aren’t, but I wrote this while watching a toddler instinctively navigate an iPad and use various applications. The secret to the device and what it means for the entire capture and content management industry is what is going to happen as these devices permeate the enterprise—and what happens when these kids grow up. The entire notion of computers and interaction is changing, a trend more powerful than any before it. If you don’t want to be left behind, now is a perfect time to add the iPad or other tablet devices to your enterprise.

So the parting question today is simple, who is getting a new iPad , and what are you going to do with it?

#cloud #Security #e-forms #Tablets #ScanningandCapture #enterprise #SharePoint #barcodes #apps #integration #iPad #aiim11 #Capture