The Apple iPad and the various slate PCs coming from computer manufacturers in 2010 are being billed primarily as media consumption devices. However, TechRepublic recently asserted that this form factor could have a business impact as well. TechRepublic's CIO Jury agrees.
On February 3, TechRepublic polled its 100-member panel of U.S. IT executives and asked, "Is there a business case to be made for the iPad and other slate PCs?" The jury, made up of the first 12 respondents, came through with seven "Yes" votes and five "No" votes.
TechRepublic's CIO Jury is based on the original CIO Jury concept developed by Silicon.com, where you can find lively opinions from IT leaders based in the UK. Silicon.com's CIO Jury held its own vote on the iPad as a business tool.
Donna Trivison, Director of IT for Ursuline College, said, "Yes, there is a business case which can be made for iPad or other convenient, easy to use tablet computers. The iPod Touch /iPad is instant on, instant off, and instant load. This aspect alone makes a compelling business case. Time is money. Though I'm not sure if that would be considered a function of tablet per se. It is more a function of iPhone operating system and multi-touch user interface, push one button, touch one icon. App loads and performs flawlessly. All apps (a.k.a., software) have a standardized look and feel... Elegant, functional, revolutionary."
Mitchell Gibbs, Vice President of Services at Advocate Charitable Foundation, said, "While I'm not sold on the iPad - too limited in functionality - the form factor has a lot of potential, especially in vertical markets like healthcare. We currently have tablet PCs in active use and making them lighter, faster, with better battery life is only going to drive the business case."
Others agreed that health care IT is a clear target for this form factor. Jay Rollins, Vice President of IT for Trilogy Health Services, said, "[It's] still early, but in healthcare, iPads would be great for electronic charting applications. No need for in-room kiosks, and the price point is pretty good as well."
Matthew Metcalfe, Director of IS for Northwest Exterminating, said "For mobile employees there is certainly a case for it. Hospitals and their tablets have proven the concept."
Lisa Moorehead, Director of IT for MA Dept of Public Utilities, said, "Slate PCs are the latest tech toy. The screens break and get damaged too easily. I can see some benefit in a hospital campus environment for reading x-rays, diagrams, etc. but, not unless the screens can be hardened."
Other CIO Jury members were also concerned about the durability of the iPad. "They will have to be much more rugged then they are now," said David Van Geest, Director of IT for The Orsini Group.
Several CIOs expressed skepticism about whether slates would have enough power and connectivity to be effective. "Until the business workforce becomes mobile and the slates develop a natural user interface that is truly usable, and have the horsepower/connectivity to run applications required for business users to function, there will be little need other than as a 'curiosity' or 'toy,'" said Michael Woodford, Executive Director of IT for USANA Health Sciences, Inc.
Joel Robertson, Director of IT for King College in Bristol, TN, has a problem with the iPad specifically. "Yes for the slate but not for the iPad. The incompatibility with non-Apple apps and the lack of built in expansion ports would prevent us from considering the iPad."
Others doubted the short-term effects but still saw potential. David Wilson, Director of IT for VectorCSP, said "I believe that the immediate impact will be small, but the possibility of using these as e-book / document readers alone is enough to intrigue me."
Delano Gordon, CIO of Roofing Supply Group in Dallas, Texas, said, "In our case, I can see an immediate use for board meetings."
TechRepublic's CIO Jury on this topic was:
- Chuck Codling, Director of Infrastructure for Rocky Brands, Inc.
- David Van Geest, Director of IT for The Orsini Group
- Mark Westhoff, Director of IT for Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District
- Lisa Moorehead, Director of IT for MA Dept of Public Utilities
- Randy Krzyston, Director of IT for Thomas Jefferson School of Law
- Mike Woodford, Executive Director of IT for USANA Health Sciences, Inc.
- Chris Brown, Vice President of Technology for Big Splash Web Design
- Michael Stoyanovich, CIO of BeneSys
- Matthew Metcalfe, Director of IS for Northwest Exterminating
- Jerry Justice, IT Director of SS&G Financial Services
- Mitchell Gibbs, Vice President of Services at Advocate Charitable Foundation
- John Gracyalny, Director of IT for SafeAmerica Credit Union
Would you like to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say in the hottest issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, drop us a line.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks.