iPad

iWhat? Should CIOs pay attention to the iPad?

Patrick Gray says that IT leaders should focus their attention less on this new technology and more on other endeavors.

Like nearly every new product out of Cupertino, Apple's new tablet device had been pitched as "earth shattering." One of the scenarios depicted by the marketing hoopla leading up to the device's unveiling was the corporate meeting. Rather than shuffling through a stack of papers, the facilitator taps a few buttons on his or her device, and the group's iPads light up, interactive handouts illuminate the screens, followed perhaps by a demo of a new software program or prototype of an enhancement to the corporate CRM system rapidly flickering across the screen of the snazzy device. Similar scenarios are being promoted toward higher education, with visions of the "iPad Classroom" where handouts are distributed in the blink of an eye and a bag full of textbooks is replaced with a lightweight iPad.

This is combined with Apple's recent and fairly subtle push into the corporate space. Rather than attempting to pitch directly to enterprise, Apple quietly added corporate features like Exchange support, security, and remote wipe capabilities to their iPhone, eliminating some of the reasons for the "IT Police" to reject the device when the CEO shows up and asks IT to "make it work" with corporate e-mail. Is Apple getting ready for a push into the enterprise, and should CIOs need to cast an eye toward the former niche player?

In sorting through the hype and reality of Apple's new device, we need to ask ourselves if the "digital dream world" of tablet-enabled meetings is actually viable and beneficial, and if so, do we want to start supporting "nontraditional" devices in the enterprise.

I frankly don't see the scenario of the "digital meeting" attended by iPad-wielding technophiles happening anytime soon. Almost since the dawn of the portable computer, the "digital meeting" has been pitched as everything from a productivity booster to a "green" paper saver, yet reality tends to rain on this parade. Think of any past meeting where some sort of takeaway was involved. Even in an IT meeting where one would expect to find the most technically savvy, someone invariably forgets to print out the handout that was e-mailed prior to the meeting or one participant claims he or she didn't receive it.

All too often, the first fifteen minutes of these types of meetings are spent with someone attempting to resend the attachment or running to the nearest printer to grab additional copies. Now imagine a meeting with less technical employees, trying to figure out how to send that potentially incompatible PowerPoint to the group's iPads when Joe isn't sure how to turn on his WiFi, Mary has no clue what the e-mail address of her iPad is, Frank's battery is dead, and Bob from Finance refuses to authorize any iPad purchases for his group and just wants a handout.

Furthermore, the iPad misses one critical attribute for a corporate meeting or classroom scenario: a stylus. Apple wisely made its iPhone a finger-only device, but one of the routine problems with replacing paper with an electronic note-taking device is losing the ability to write text notes, jot on a handout, draw a diagram, or doodle a product sketch in the margins.

The closest "electronic notepad" is probably the Tablet PC, which supports a standard Windows operating system, a stylus, and rather compelling note-taking and sketching software. While all of this looks great on paper, adoption of these devices has been anemic at best, shooting another hole in the dream of the digital meeting. In addition, when costs are being cut and a strong business case should be the foundation of any new project, an $800 device with limited functionality may not be the best investment from a raw financial and, more importantly, "cost of attention" basis.

While it may be fun to grab a couple of iPads and explore the possibilities in a very limited trial, at this point the CIO's energies could be better spent on other endeavors. Talent management or effectively wielding the CIO's most effective weapon might be great places to start.

Patrick Gray is the founder and president of Prevoyance Group and author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology. Prevoyance Group provides strategy-consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at patrick.gray@prevoyancegroup.com, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com.

About

Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent ...

31 comments
jfreedle2
jfreedle2

I have used Tablet PCs in the past and my current portable computer is a Tablet PC and I cannot agree more with the statement that the Tablet PC is a great device for taking notes in meetings and even in classroom situations. It runs the same software that is available on my Desktop PC and has enough battery life to attend a 2-3 hour meeting without having to resort to a power cord.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

We've travelled this beaten path before and i-Phone fell flat on its arse for anyone except the most minimal "entrprise" needs, hardly making them enterprise workers in the first place. If you can't handle the most elementary Office procedures, it is of no use. A poorly designed touch system, coupled with lack of common software or inhouse engineering abilities siply makes it uselss unless your business consists of listening to low quality music and surfing the web. So now, they have taken the same device, and contrary to the flow of electronic devices since the inception of th intergates curcuit, they made it bigger...and it does nothing else than their more than inadequate phone. No, it's not an Enterprise device. X2 is releasing the i-Tablet, which has a FAR better chance of becoming a widely used Entrprise device. It runs either Linux or Windows (not cut down, mobile products but the full blown OS). Includes a 250GB HD for actual storage needs. Has 3 USB inputs for peripheral connections, as well as an HDMI port for those higher end presentations. The camersa is slated to only offer 1.2 MP, but that's just as much as most imagers used in a corporate handheld computer. The real bonus is, instead of being tied in to an antiauated and simply chip upgraded touch system, the i-Tablet will feature either 5-wire resistive or capacitive touch systems, as needed for the specific use. People don't give touch enough consideration, there are over a dozen touch systems available, each with its own application and benefits. Some durable some more accurate, some for gloved hands some for use with a sharp instrument (even a nail held in a construction workers hand). Apple's system is just an old IR system tat was dropped by its inventor as it couldn't meet market demands when compared to ELO/Tyco's systems. Their patent was bought by Apple and they just added a multitouch chip to it. It is still inaccurate and useless for all but smudgy thombs scrolling through web pages and resizing photos. You can't use a stylus, there's no handwriting recognition for quick note taking, there's no drawing recognition to turn hand scrawls into line drawings etc. It simply does nothing of any use to a business, except keep wannabe's looking cool at Starbucks.

Gennady
Gennady

I'm working in a big enterprise 70K+ employees, very high-tech, MSexchange-based, everyone with laptops, etc. iPhones work just GREAT! they sync calendars with exchange, you can read emails, accept meetings, open attachments - all INSTANTLY - much faster than on any laptop. I read my work email at home with iPod touch - it is much faster than exchange webmail or VPN. iPhones and iPod touch work MUCH better than any of windows mobile phone, both sides confess it. all employees with windows mobile suffer in some form: endless bugs, restarts, loss of syncs, battery. iPhones just WORK.

jfreedle2
jfreedle2

I cannot believe that you said that, I have a Windows Mobile phone and it outperforms EVERY iPhone ever made, not to mention the iPod touch. You must have never used a real Smartphone in order to say that it works better. You need to get you head out of Apple's reality detortion field. You need to stop using a device with the worse interface ever designed.

wbranch
wbranch

I think his point was that email, meetings and attachment are minimal enterprise needs. He's talking about doing more complex work on your smartphone/tablet, i.e. sketches, written notes (try typing voluminous notes on an iPhone/iPad), etc. I'm sure iPhones do work great to get your emails, but if you have further need to do something with that device and you don't have access to a laptop, you need something else to get the job done.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

And not Enterpeise devices. There's no way that a $300.00 iphone competes with a real $3000.00 mobile designed specifically for enterprise. Just the lack of Wireless security alone doesn't meet many companies standards. These are the phone s you don't find in your local toy store, but can are targeted specifically to rigged use and enterprise use for such a power user's 'carpet to concrete' job. JANAM Mobiles http://www.janam.com/ Symbol (Motorolq) mobiles http://mobilehardwarereviews.com/index.php?section=36 Apple, pshaw! :D Not even in the same ball park as the people they are said to be playing with, not even remotely close. I've sold enterprise devices such as the above, no, there isn't a company in thousands I spoke with that consider a normal, retail smart phone as being an enterprise device.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Sales and marketing departments must have been all over it. :D (couldn't resist)

masterurmind
masterurmind

Feeling lonely and looking for attention Oz ? I am here for u...... Textberries are dieing a slow, no make that quick death..... u are living in denial or in the past or perhaps both my dear friend. Your biterness is shinning through. Trade in your textberry for something that makes your entire life better. iPhone adoption is through the roof and all your bitterness will not stop the wave....today's youth will be your daddy tomorrow....only thing minimal here is your limited perspective and ability to think without bias. All the best.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

First off al you need to read a full post before gettign all excited and clicking to rnter your unqualified and insignificant reply. As for Blackberry? I don't own one and never even men tioned the word blackberry once in my previous post, thus your rannt is, once again, the completely unqualified ranting of a child. It's not being me bitter at all, it is being right from first hand experience. I've sold such enterprise devices to real users, with real needs. They don't even sell such devices on a retail market, just like high the end desktops, which you can't even find at BestBuy. I also use a Motorola MC70, which no retail mobile device can hold a candle to, do your homework next time. How do you expect a cheap phone to compete with a $3K device designed and sought out by enterprises? The i-Phone doesn't even meet the most minimal RFP requests! :D It's a toy! Janam, Intermec and Handheld Products(HHP)devices laugh in the face of i-Toys for kiddies who want to play enterprise worker. Think without bias? A typical i-Phone user's comment when he hears he's not as important as he though he was and has minimal needs in a "business" device. I couldn't give a toss what you use, the fact is, if you have the business device requirements that an Enterprise demands, then the i-Phone falls flat on its face. It is simply incapable of offering the more powerful business funtionality that users need, and so do crackberries and even the HTC retail products. When I am onsite and want to jot down a quick diagram to work on at the office, with i-Phone, I am screwed. With sketch recognition I can do it just fine. If I need to write down a quick note, I can do so by simply scribbling a note, anywhere on the screen, in my own handwriting and it is converted to text and formatted, ready to email or print in common MS Word format, or Adobe PDF is needed. Functionality, not popularity, and we are talking about enterprise use, not high school photo sharing. I have yet to see an RFP from any enterprise that a retail phone would meet. http://mobilehardwarereviews.com/index.php?section=36 http://www.janam.com/ http://www.intermec.ca/products/computers/handheld_computers/index.aspx http://www.honeywellaidc.com/Site.aspx/na/en/product_center/hardware/?product=81 If you wanna talk about Enterprise computing and serious, hard working, business devices. Get out of the toy shop and start looking at the real competition.

WasabiMac
WasabiMac

When Apple introed the Newton, people laughed. And yes, they missed the mark a bit, but now no one questions the usefulness of a smartphone. Yeah, they aren't for everybody, but a solid 20% of us live on them. I think the iPad (stupid name Apple, sorry. I have to go with the MadTV skit on this one) will work it's way in. I was talking to an education developer for a genetic research company. They think the electronic slate has come of age. Who needs paper magazines? But who needs full blown laptop. I think if the price is right (closer to $400 in my case) they would be a hit. Personal wireless TV, magazines, newspapers, etc. And people who say laptops are better miss the point. The laptop is a computer psychologically. A eSlate can be more casual and intimate to a lot of people. Just look at the severely limited Kindle and how successful it is. The iPad might not dominate the industry in the same way the iPod has, but it has certainly raised the bar and gotten a lot closer to what Captain Kirk used than anything else that has been offered.

agoodspeed
agoodspeed

If these devices could be an extension of the desktop - like a portable remote desktop (when in range or on the network or even a VPN) - or at least a way to move documents and such to them they don't need to be a full blown computer. A slate gives you the flexibility to move around, go from the office to the board room without needing to bring your over powered laptop or fiddle with a clumsy underpowered net book. A slate shouldn't be looked at as a replacement as some would like, but as a standalone that can act like a peripheral. Large enough to read, browse, and handle to interact with (Like a laptop but unlike a PDA/Smart Phone); small, light, simple, and nimble enough to carry around (unlike a laptop but like a PDA/Smart Phone). These really would be perfect to replace laptops and books in class rooms and perfect to bring to meetings, business trips, conferences, and lectures. For schools, if the price were better - $200-$400 range, this would be even more feasible. Scrap the extras if this is the type of area being looked at. I know things are already pretty bare bones, but a school version doesn't need a 16 GB HDD. If the systems are used like thin clients or dummy terminals they don't even need rock star processors or massive HDD space - instead put in 2-4 GB of internal memory and slap on an external slot for expansion. 2nd and 3rd generations should be really interesting, if the 1st gen makes it off the shelve.

wbranch
wbranch

If this thing is going to be one more piece of technology I've got to lug around, I'll pass. I'm not hauling a smartphone and a laptop and an iPad on a business trip, or into the office every day. If it can replace my laptop, do ALL the things my laptop does just as well, and be lighter, thinner, etc., then you have my ear. hAs for the external slot for expansion, wouldn't that be nice. Unfortunately, Apple in their infinite wisdom didn't even put a single USB slot in their iPad (who uses them anyway?).

Jkirk3279
Jkirk3279

As for the stylus, that's solvable. A third party manufacturer could make a stylus that imitates a fingers' capacitance, with a rubbery tip impregnated with fine wires. When you draw the soft tip over the screen, the sensors pick up the capacitance. Voila?! An iPad stylus.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Havign spent years learnign touch technology and input acceptance, I wish you well in your endeavours. And they will be what, $5 for a pack of 3? The problem with i_pad is not the touch, it's the touch recognition and uinput technology that is behind the ancient IR system they use in their screens. They took a failed technology and added multitouch chips to it, it doesn't improve the base technology, which is the flaw that negates stylus use.

retrofire
retrofire

Didn't you suffer through the Palm devices -- with those awful stylus shapes that were too small to hold well, where the boss would lose his for the Palm V and it was not the same as the Palm II & III series so he couldn't put it away since ours wouldn't fit? Stylus's are a 1990's idea that we don't need back. Like analog TV, their time is up. Get over it.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

It's their applications that were poor. the stylue used in Palm's were just fine, it was teh OS that restricted its ease of use. I have pens with stylus tips on one end for use with my HTC and with touch screen mixing boards. I can write in cursive scribble and teh OS translates it into a text document for me. I can draw a diagram with crooked lines while on site, the OS them turns it into a perfect line drawing ready to send. If you don't have need for Enterprise applications, stick to a smudgy i-Phone, or a giant i-Phone and revert to the dark ages with fellow Apple users who but hardware that doesn't even compete with the rest of the marketplace. Lame excuses are all Apple fans have to explain the lack of usability in their devices.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I think it was last year or the year before that winter gloves here advertised with capacitive finger tips so the ski bunnies could operate there Ipods without getting too cold. Doing the same for a stylus should be easy. I'm actually surprised there are not already available.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

YOu can only imitate a finger tip, nothign more. No handwriting recognition, no accuracy, nothing. The IR system, used as a base with their multitouch chipset, failed, Apple bought it for a song and used it in their phones.

Gennady
Gennady

Don't be confused. Those who bring laptops to meetings today will happily bring the iPad and most likely won't have problems with the iPad. The geeks will be just happy to bring it to the meeting!!! "Mary who has no clue what her email is" won't bring the iPad to the meeting, but she won't bring her laptop to the meeting as well and she won't buy an iPad at all. Apple was always relying to early adopters, to guys who LOVE gadgets, who are HAPPY to bring them and who are very forgiving for first version bugs. And then they'll fix issues and adjust features based on the feedback and it will work smoothly just like my 3-rd generation iPod Touch does.

gmeader
gmeader

The iPad's pricing is a radical change. We'll see what happens. I predict they (and tabletPC clones in the sub $500 price category) will sell as well as netbooks. (in other words lots of units)

pam.rickey
pam.rickey

At my college we already use technology, such as clickers, in the classroom and are looking into going with all E-books. I just finished installing Skype on my laptop so that an instructor who can't make Friday's meeting can participate remotely with video. Given time, and the right pricepoints, I can definately see the scenario depicted in the article happening. In fact, it would eliminate some of the very problems (not printing out handouts and bringing them to the meeting, for example), that the author used as a reason for it not working.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Rather than shuffling through a stack of papers, the facilitator taps a few buttons on his or her device, and the group?s laptops / tablet PC's / iTablets light up, interactive handouts illuminating the screens, followed perhaps by a demo of a new software program or prototype of an enhancement to the corporate CRM system rapidly flickering across the screen of the device. iTablet http://www.geekwithlaptop.com/x2-to-release-%E2%80%9Citablet%E2%80%9D-in-april Or even (when released) http://gizmodo.com/5365299/courier-first-details-of-microsofts-secret-tablet I think this is nearer that goal!

jfuller05
jfuller05

seems to have the better idea here. *All of a sudden, thousands of Applemaniacs begin to wail in tears*

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

It's a UK company called X2, they are designing it for use with either Linux OR Windows. But it is by far a superior device.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Only Apple and AT&T strip devices if usability.

jfuller05
jfuller05

is by Microsoft. I was referring to the last link g-man posted for gizmodo. I know X2 is making the iTablet, but I understood, according the bottom link in his post, that the Courier is being made by Microsoft. Yeah, it is a superior device; for sure.

pam.rickey
pam.rickey

In the college I work for, we already use clicker technology (polls the students for answers to questions) in the classroom. We are looking into replacing printed texts with E-Books. I just finished installing Skype on my laptop so that an instructor at another campus can participate in a meeting using video. So, yes, given time and the right price points, I can see the scenario in the article happening. In fact, some of the very problems (not printing out handouts and bringing them to the meeting, for example) the author used as an example for it not working, is why it is needed.

Gennady
Gennady

you save money and save trees by not printing one-use handouts. in large orgs in long term you're saving a lot of money!

Ian Thurston
Ian Thurston

...and why exactly do you think that "paperless" is greener? You might be surprised at the actual comparison between a renewable resource that is biodegradable and the total enviromental impact of iPad + infrastructure + recycling costs. Doesn't come out quite the way you're hoping.

ellenchick
ellenchick

When you look at the cost of toner, printer maintenance, and shredding of confidential materials....one of these things would pay for itself in no time. I think these things could fulfil the potential the tablet PC never realized.

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