Cracking the tape on any new electronic gadget is always a
thrill. Thanks to Apple elegance and ingenuity, opening a new iPad adds an
extra little charge. The devices are potent, support many apps, and feature an
endless range of potential experiences.

After joining the tablet to the Internet, users almost
immediately begin downloading apps. Therein lies the fun. What applications
should be downloaded first? Here are five contenders for business and
productivity tools every professional should start out with.

Note: This article is also available as a photo gallery.

1: Your firm’s vertical industry application

Business professionals live and die by the industry-specific
applications their organizations deploy. Autodesk, Intuit, Salesforce, and
other enterprise software manufacturers have all published iOS versions for
their respective platforms. To ensure that your iPad offers optimal value and
efficiency, make your organization’s business application the first program you
install.

My technology consultancy uses Connectwise as its
professional services automation solution (Figure A). Its iOS app enables staff to perform
critical functions, such as review calendars, respond to service requests, and
close tickets. Those functions streamline our operations, just as similar proprietary
enterprise apps do for other firms, making such applications among the most
important for tablets.

Figure A

 

 

Calender
tracking is a critical component when working remotely.

2: iWork apps

The ability to create, edit, and share documents,
spreadsheets, and presentations is critical to today’s business users. Fortunately,
Apple now makes its office productivity tool suite — Pages, Numbers, and
Keynote — available free to new iPad customers (Figure B). In my experience, the applications
are not present on Apple devices, however, and must be downloaded from the App
store.

Figure B

  

 

Numbers checklist helps make sure you don’t overlook important information when
performing field audits using an iPad.

Using the iWorks suite, you can email files or tap Apple’s
iCloud service to seamlessly share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Streamlined
interfaces dedicate display space to content (as opposed to toolbars and
navigational aids), so it’s easy to create iWorks files on your iPad.

3: Penultimate

Penultimate
(Figure C) lets you create freehand drawings on your iPad. You can draw organization
charts, network diagrams, floor plans, and other shapes and objects, which
comes in handy in numerous business situations.

Figure C

   

 Following a simple walk-through of a client site requiring an office expansion, this  floor
plan shows the proper location for new desks, data cabling, and a network closet
complete with punch-down block.

Thanks to Penultimate’s drawing capabilities, you don’t have
to create paper notes in the field.  No
more scanning, copying to a network, and distributing your notes via another
method. Instead, you can share the drawings you make on your iPad directly from
within Penultimate by email (or using Evernote).

4: Evernote

I’m a fan of simplicity. In Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity,
authors Irene Etzkorn and Alan Siegel demonstrate the profound benefits that
result when processes, forms, and communications are simplified. Professional workdays are full of meetings and conference calls, so you need a way to collect simple text notes in a quick and reliable format. Yet some
applications add so many features, the utilitarian acts of recording and
sharing basic information become unwieldy and unnecessarily complex. Not so
with Evernote (Figure D).

Figure D

  

The free Evernote note-taking application makes it easy to
create and share notes as simple text included within email messages.

While
some advanced options are available, including the ability to automatically
import Penultimate drawings, the application’s strength is the simplicity it
offers creating and distributing notes quickly and efficiently.

5: Twitter

Twitter
(Figure E) is a life-changing application, and it should be among the first things you install on
your new iPad. How else can a business professional to effortlessly track
industry news and announcements, product introductions, service enhancements,
and similar information? And let’s face it: Life isn’t composed of just work
obligations. You’ll probably want to follow sports, arts programs, celebrities,
financial markets, and so on.

Figure E

 

Twitter’s
iPad app, in keeping with its brevity theme, favors information and ease of use
over unneeded, unwanted features and interface complexity.

Twitter is similar to a fancy customized RSS feed in which
you can also participate, while tracking other users’ interests, favorites, and
trends — but its setup, configuration, and maintenance is far easier. Of
course, the service has been used to post narcissistic messages. But it has also
proven its value by allowing users to market companies, track opinions, alert
citizens to civic issues and weather conditions, and much more.

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