You can play solitaire on your iPad too... (Image: bark on Flickr.)
It's impossible to deny that the iPad has been a real sales success. Apple sold 9.25m of them in the last quarter alone. It might only be a matter of time before iPads become another piece of equipment that people bring to work – just like their mobile phone.
But is there a place for the iPad in your company?
Business uses for the iPad
The iPad's usefulness as a business tool has been questioned, not least on this very blog! But for many, it's proving to be a revolutionary device. It's easy to hold, easy to transport and easy to use.
It uses the same operating system and interface as the iPhone, and doesn't bother with conventional input devices like a mouse or keyboard. You just tap, swipe and drag your fingers on the screen.
It's down to the apps
Part of the iPad's success is certainly down to the wide availability of apps. You can download nearly 100,000 of them, covering every category from entertainment and media to productivity and business.
It's these apps that really enable you to make productive use of an iPad in the workplace. Here are some specific scenarios where you might want to consider using an iPad:
- For presentations. The iPad is a great tool for showing and sharing presentations – it's portable, so you can just pull it out of your bag when you need it.
Software like Apple's Keynote lets you import and edit PowerPoint presentations, and you can even hook it up to a monitor or projector (if you don't mind buying an adaptor from Apple).
There are also applications available that will let you do ‘virtual presentations' – so you can show your presentation to people on the internet.
- For working together and communicating. The iPad comes with an email app, and you can add all manner of other tools for audio and videoconferencing.
There's a built-in calendar and address book, so it's a good replacement for a paper planner – and the larger screen means it's easier to read than your mobile phone.
You can also choose from a range of apps to manage your tasks, monitor projects, share files, read and post items in social networks and more.
- For working in the field. The iPad is lightweight and portable, so it's a great companion on the road. It has the ability to connect securely to your office network using a virtual private network (VPN) connection.
- For managing your travel. I feel the iPad is unmatched as a travel companion. There are heaps of apps for managing flights and hotel bookings, checking your itinerary and recording expenses. And when you have some time to yourself (or are bored on a long flight), that big screen is perfect for watching movies.
- For doing industry-specific tasks. This depends which industry you're in, but there are lots of environments in which the iPad can be put to work. For instance, Apple itself has replaced all its in-store product labels with iPads.
You can even use it as a point-of-sale device (like a till). Other companies are using iPads to replace printed manuals, and some schools are using it in place of stacks of books.
There are lots of other ways the iPad can be used for business. Are you considering using one in your company as well? And if your company doesn't own its own iPads, would you be happy for staff to bring in their own? Leave a comment and let us know.