IPADS AND OTHER TABLETS – The Next Generation of Tools to Increase Productivity

Written by on 2/9/2011 2:31 AM . It has 0 Comments.

The Apple iPad and other Tablet devices are considered the new wave of technological tools that are expected to be used to implement a new wave of productivity increases in the workplace. 

Since before the introduction of the electronic calculator as a productivity increasing tool for the workplace, organizations have looked to advances in technology as one of the primary means to increasing efficiency.  A decade ago a key way to increase employee productivity was to add an additional monitor, or two, to their computer workstations.  The transition from using single to dual monitors on computers has been proven to increase productivity by 20-30%, according to Jon Peddie Research. 

Lately the buzz regarding how to increase productivity focuses on products known as Tablets, the most popular of which is Apple’s iPad.  The current generation of Tablet are tablet shaped mobile computing devices; usually smaller and easier to wield than a standard notebook computer that possess touch screens and in many instances a stylus for annotating notes by hand.  

We have recently rolled out our first wave of beta testing with tablet devices utilizing the Apple iPad.  Initially we were sold on the “cool factor”, but were later wowed by the utility of the devices.  I am in no way stating that the iPad is the correct tablet for every need, but with the correct combination of supporting software, we have been able to successfully allow multiple personnel to work from virtually anywhere.

As recently as this morning can be used as an example of how the mobility of a tablet device can increase productivity.  Between the hours of 5am and 12pm (7 total hours) I rode in a cab, a plane, a train, and a car to get from where I spent my weekend outside of Seattle, WA to my office in Turlock California.  During my uneventful reenactment of sorts of the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, I was able to get almost an entire day’s worth of work complete while on the road.  From my tablet, an iPad equipped with 3G internet, I was able to remote in to my office computer, respond to email, instant message colleagues on our office’s secured system, and revise proposals materials for upcoming client meetings. 

I recently read a newspaper article where numerous complaints had been sent to a newspaper regarding a $20,000 investment that a local school district had allegedly “wasted” when it purchased iPads for a number of its administrative personnel.  I agree with the strategic decision made by the school district when deciding to purchase the tablet devices for personnel whose occupations require them to be mobile and connected.   The complaints received by the newspaper are only valid if the school district does not execute a successful and adequate implementation of the new technology.  

The same issue of execution that the school district faces in the article noted above, is also faced by virtually every business looking to make similar types of investments.  Below are just a few of the questions an organization should consider when deciding whether or not to purchase iPads or Tablets. 

  1. Is the product needed to serve a genuine business purpose, or is it merely being purchased to fulfill a boastful or egotistical desire?
    1. Many organizations waste considerable amounts of money pursuing “cool” and “trendy” technologies that do little, if any, to benefit the organization.  
    2. In the case of the school district above, an application installed on a cell phone, such as an iPhone or a Blackberry already provided to the district employees could provide many of the mobile abilities desired at little or no additional cost to the district. 
  2. What is the budget for the investment?  Can we as an organization justify the expense?
    1. Without the necessary funds required to (1) purchase the tools and (2) provide support of the tools like software, training, and infrastructure (network capacity/functionality), such investments become instant liabilities for rather than assets for organizations. 
  3. What level of mobility and productivity is required for the tools’ users?
    1. Higher mobility may reduce overall productivity of the tool depending on the price point and vice versa.
  4. What systems/software must the tool be compatible with?  (Microsoft, Flash, etc.)
    1. If you have your heart set on a certain tablet that doesn’t inherently perform all the tasks you need, can you afford the necessary software to make it usable? 
  5. Are the units going to supplement or fully replace the tools currently provided to the user?
    1. If they are going to supplement existing hardware and software, the organization should make sure that the new tools can integrate successfully with the users’ system. 

These are just a few questions I would ask before pushing the "launch" button and spending a sizeable amount of money. 

Matthew Davis MBA, AAI

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