iPad

Can iPads in the office save you money? Politicians think so.

More evidence is emerging that deploying tablets can cut costs, this time in the form of the results of a trial by the UK parliament.

While tablet computers have been seen by many as an expensive executive toy, there is mounting evidence that they can also save money.

This time it’s in the form of a pilot project which saw UK members of parliament using iPads for official business, and saving thousands of pounds as a result, mainly on the cost of printing paper documents for committee meetings.

As a result, the parliamentary administration committee has recommended that tablet computers be provided to all 650 members of parliament as part of their IT equipment allowance. A ruling whether to go ahead with the scheme will take place later.

iPads also appear to provide value for money when compared to the cost of buying the laptops for MPs, as Joan Miller, head of parliamentary ICT told a recent conference, saying “Even if I replace iPads twice a year, it's cheaper than our encrypted laptops”.

But there are caveats to the claim that thousands can be saved by giving MPs iPads: the savings were calculated by comparing the costs saved on printing to the cost of purchasing each iPad.

What that figure didn’t include was the monthly cost providing mobile data to the iPads and the expense of in-house IT teams managing and supporting the devices.

That’s a pretty big omission – iPad data plans alone range in price from anything between about £7.50 per month for 1GB of data to £20.99 per month for 3GB of data – £4,875 per month or £13,643 per month if multiplied by the Commons’ 650 MPs.

Still, the argument for giving politicians iPads extend beyond savings – it’s also about more efficient ways of working.

Sir Alan Haselhurst, chairman of the parliamentary administration committee told TechRepublic: “Our conclusion is that it [the iPad] provided an effective and practical way of working. You don’t have to handle large amounts of paper, you can carry the device with you so it enables you because of its portability to work on it in many different circumstances.”

Haselhurst argues that as parliament shifts to issuing more documents electronically rather than on paper that MPs are going to need a tablet device “in order to do their work”.

Momentum is building behind corporate tablet rollouts as the devices demonstrate their business benefits: for example the global charitable health foundation the Wellcome Trust, has trialled the use of 130 iPads as a way of running paperless committee meetings.

However, whether in the midst of economic gloom, how the general public will welcome the sight of politicians touting shiny iPads remains to be seen.

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

19 comments
Kent Lion
Kent Lion

By definition, they know how to get what they want. Sometimes "politicians think" appears to be an oxymoron. They also have short memories (partly due to high turnover). If they want to print from their iPads, they will eventually demand the capability; and by then everyone will have forgotten that the initial reason they got the iPads was to save on printing. Sound familiar? PCs did away with the dependence on a mainframe to get things done; now everyone is say "cloud". Computers in the office were supposed to save on printing because things could be corrected on the computer before printing, and/or stored/filed in electronic form. Of course no-one told the people touting that benefit that no matter how hard you look before you print, typos show up after you print, and that professional typists make less typos than their boss. It also never occurred to them that printing was limited by technology. Even copiers had limited access, but everyone has access to a printer. As for electronic storage, that didn't turn out to be too reliable, and if you needed something from the file quickly, it wasn't always accessible. Now the typist has been mostly eliminated, multiple copies are printed for review by everyone, everyone has their own changes (not necessarily corrections), and since it's really easy to print multiple copies, the final becomes a mass printing (we'll just print a few extra, in case).

JoCaBa
JoCaBa

If the public get upset at the sight of politicians with shiny iPads, then a) somebody should be sacked for failing to put across the message that they've got them to CUT costs; and b) somebody else should be sacked for choosing iPads instead of something better like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, which will do exactly the same job, but with a better range of apps, and without tying them in to that stupid iStore thingy.

TonyDaly
TonyDaly

The UK Government's ICT strategy is to use open standards where possible, so why an iPAD?

thunt
thunt

From the article: "Joan Miller, head of parliamentary ICT told a recent conference, saying ???Even if I replace iPads twice a year, it???s cheaper than our encrypted laptops???." What many IT professionals fail to understand is that consumer devices like the Apple iPads discussed here may be less expensive to purchase, but they are often more expensive to own in an enterprise setting. When you are replacing pen/pencil and paper with a tablet device you must ensure that you have as near the same up-time. Consumer devices are not designed to withstand the rigors of business life. When they go down, replacing the device may only be ~$975.00, but the lost time and productivity experienced by the organization, factored along with the time and labor costs associated with repair/replace/image/deploy/shipping etc. these devices, even at Mrs. Millers 2-per-year replacement, end up costing thousands more than a rugged notebook or rugged tablet. Apple iPads will do more for the rugged tablet market than any advertising ever could. They will open the eyes of end users to the work flow enhancements and cost saving for things like time, duplication of labor, and paper. Then once these end users are accustomed to the advantages, these consumer devices will fail, create downtime and kill productivity. Once they feel the pain, they will be looking for a real enterprise tablet, and fully understand the cost of using the wrong tool for the job. Side note: Love my iPhone and Macbook Pro. Just don't like reading IT professionals making such ill informed statements.

rpollard
rpollard

That's the least of our worries. What about the insider trading that everyone knows they do but somehow seem to be above the law and can't be prosecuted for. And not to mention the multitude of other "political" dealings that they do and get a way with. Power is the most intoxicating of all. They feel special and privileged all whilst they step on our heads to get what they want. Good article but probably going to upset some anti-Apple people.

Gisabun
Gisabun

What other articles have stated is that the hardware alone comers out to 400,000 GBP or over 600 GBP per iPad [or about $975 USD]. Thart's pricey for an Ipad. Add infastructure and support costs. Add data usage costs as well. I can see it now: one MP caught surfing on a porn site while in session, another mistakenly downloaded malware that sends out more malware to the MPs [let alone add them to some spam server], another one doing work related to a company he owns, another selling some stock in a company [insider trading], etc.

unabletoplaytennis
unabletoplaytennis

Why not buy a cheap ebook instead and have internal data communications using wirless technology instead of signing up for wireless data service since the meetings of the officials are in house anyway. Some software and wireless rounter can do the trick. Much cheaper than buying a Ipad or tablet computer.Politicians are good at wasting money. ming.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I have doubts most US elected officials could find their own district in Google Maps without an electronic bloodhound and a flashlight app.

TNT
TNT

The article mentions the laptops use encrypted drives, why wouldn't the slate devices also use them? To not do so is a huge security oversight. And as Bizzo points out, tablets are much easier to lose and steal. Not to mention that a printed document containing secret information can be burned, but few are the deleted files that cannot be recovered. I'm all for using slates in certain industries and market segments, but when your job is creating laws and running a country security ought to trump expense every time.

Crash2100
Crash2100

What do politicians know? These are the same people that are, for the most part, still keeping everything in the economy centered around coal, oil and gasoline.

neil.postlethwaite
neil.postlethwaite

What absolute self-serving hor5esh1t for a political class out of touch with reality. What's wrong with a Netbook or standard laptop to save printing reams of bollocks ?

Gisabun
Gisabun

Watch these old farts, errrr, MPs rying to figure out how to use them. Talking about a waste in money. See MPs play games on them. See MPs open up some malware on them. Maybe even see MPs take inappropriate pictures with others using them. :-) I think the actual cost [excluding data plans and such] wikll be ??400,000. Do the math. That sounds like ??615 each iPad [that about $975US which is almost double the store price].

ghirte
ghirte

OMG, I don't think most members of our Congress have mastered reading yet. (They let their staff read most bills...) Maybe we could give them an Etch-a-Sketch

Bizzo
Bizzo

I can't wait for the first iPad to get 'lost' and end up in the hands of a tabloid newspaper.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't understand why the US Congress is wasting time passing an insider trading law that applies only to federal elected officials. The current law doesn't exempt them; why is this redundant legislation needed? What next, are they going to waste more time passing Congressionally specific versions of all other existing laws? Here's a better idea: how about removing all the existing exemptions they grant themselves? Let's start with the exemptions for autodialing and cold calling. Then they can tackle repealing laws that grant them special privileges not otherwise available to voters and taxpayers, starting with their use of the military health care system.

crisvallar
crisvallar

I'm pretty sure that an ipad doesn't replace the whole features of a laptop, especially to techie people like you or me. But for a politician that will be mainly reading documents, surfing the web an reading email, i think is more than enough.

crisvallar
crisvallar

That's the same issue with current phones and laptops, so i don't see any further problems that can't be corectly addressed with policies and security efforts.

mdhemphill
mdhemphill

If the devices are setup correctly upon delivery, none of the data can be viewed by anyone that doesn't know your passcode. If the security measures are taken and implemented correctly anyone that finds a lost device would have to wipe it clean to even use it. That also might not be an issue anymore either. There is a new device that acts as a locator which allows the device to be found once reported stolen to the authorities. It is a no brainer, I have managed the devices myself for a health system. The iPad is a cost saving device. No, it doesn't replace a laptop, but 70 to 80 percent of what most executives need a laptop for can be performed on an iPad.