Apple iPad: Why it's not iBad for business IT

From a relatively cold start, here's how one CIO warmed to Apple's tablet

Despite starting out with a jaded view of Apple, IT director Nic Bellenberg has reached some telling conclusions about the iPad's business credentials.

I thought I was going to hate the iPad. I thought it was going to be a toy. I couldn't see the point of it. I knew you wouldn't be able to read its screen outside in the sun. I knew it was expensive and I'm the wrong side of 40 to be able to empathise with the odd people you see in the Apple Store.

Added to that, when I discovered Apple was not going to be able to deliver our business's initial order of iPads, the pain of having to schlep to PC World to buy a number of the devices for our top team hardly put me in a positive frame of mind, ready to welcome the new world.

This assessment was also based on the experience of having taken home the first one we obtained. It was whipped straight out of my hands by my children and filled full of Lord knows what sort of apps. Actually, I do know what - games and things that made noises, mainly.

Then after only a weekend, still not having been able to get time on the iPad myself, I had to pass it to our chairman. I do not know if he uses the Cat Piano app. But he has not spoken to me since.

The positive side of the iPad
At this point in my iPad experiences, I may have been in a frame of mind to empathise with the rather rabidly anti-iPad views expressed by columnist the Naked CIO a while back. But the lack of positivity involved in maintaining this position would be crippling and ultimately, makes one a progress-denier.

I used to have a boss who positively hated Apple, simply because they were "not standard". He missed the point - but I bet he's got an iPhone now.

Series of iPad app screens

The iPad may be a good toy but it's also a great productivity tool
(Image credit: Apple)

One of the key mistakes people make with the iPad - and any other new technology - is failing to use it properly. So, when our order from Apple finally arrived, I got hold of another 3G iPad, declared it mine and this time set it up to synchronise with our Exchange server for email, calendar and contacts, plus I also set it up to access my private email account.

Smooth connectivity
From that point on I was impressed. It connected to the corporate Exchange server via Outlook Web Access quickly and easily, and synchronised mail, contacts and calendar. My private email and my wife's also connected faultlessly, which was a great improvement on the last time I had setup Thunderbird to access them.

Having done that, the iPad was ready for work. Certainly it can be a good toy, and you can read an ebook on the train home, but it really is a great productivity aid - better than a BlackBerry for usability and readability on any long texts or web browsing.

For that matter, by virtue of being bigger, the iPad is better than an iPhone or Android phone - apart from the phone bit, which of course you don't get. You have to have...