In the last decade, mobile computing has gone from a dream to a reality to a necessity, with many businesses embracing the iPad to streamline their operations. Here, CEO and "top dog" of Small Dog Electronics, an Apple Specialist and the third-largest Apple reseller in the United States, explains how businesses can harness the power of mobile technology in order to create growth.—Jennifer Bosavage, editor
With the exception of the incredibly high resolution Retina display, the “new” iPad, otherwise referred to as the 3rd generation, doesn’t look much different than the iPad 2. However, there are dramatic differences under the hood including an A5X dual-core processor and an optional 4G upgrade.
Optimized for the updated hardware, Apple’s iOS mobile operating system provides for a fast, seamless user experience – one of the many reasons for the success of iOS solutions in business. Because Apple designs both the hardware and the operating system, they are completely integrated and work in concert to provide a user experience unlike anything else.
iPad is an ideal device for mobile collaboration and provides constant connectivity for everyone in the office, allowing for collaboration and decision-making through email, social media, and instant messaging—reducing the amount of time spent in meetings and resulting in a boost in productivity.
iPad is also a valuable meeting tool when working together. During meetings and presentations, iPads are used to take notes and research information, enhancing the depth and quality of the meeting while also allowing for real-time collaboration and editing of cloud-based documents.
Business, Meet Apps
There are hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store and many of them are designed for the business customer. Apple’s App Store offers a complete business app ecosystem consisting of apps ranging from simple note taking apps to apps optimized for editing business documents to apps for accessing enterprise level databases.
The most common documents used for business are easily accessible on the iPad; office files such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint can be opened and edited using Apple's iWork apps such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
From right off the “shelf” in the App Store to custom made apps you or a partner developer makes for you, there is a productivity solution for your business available with iPad’s iOS mobile technology.
Helpful apps for business users include general productivity apps, executive dashboard apps, mobile sales apps, field service and logistics apps, and a host of apps designed to handle your business’ office documents, presentations, collaboration and brainstorming, remote document access, and mobile transactions.
Many of Small Dog Electronics’ business clients have embraced the iPad, though it serves a very different purpose with each organization. From hospitals to construction firms, clients have each used the power of iOS to serve a different set of functions, and each has grown their business as a result.
For example, Northfield Savings Bank in Waterbury, Vt., is using iPads to demonstrate the bank’s web interface and mobile banking options to prospective customers, and also to lighten the load of its board members for whom iPads have replaced bulky board books.
iPads have also replaced large computing carts in two Vermont hospitals because of their portability and the ease with which the iPad can be sterilized when housed in a waterproof case.
Another client employing iPad’s mobile solutions is a local construction firm that deployed the iPad in the field with on-site technicians. They chose iPads because the devices are more portable than laptops, and can read blueprints and interface with the company’s software, keeping technicians connected with email and calendars while at a project site.
Not to be outdone by local businesses, the State of Vermont has successfully rolled out the iPad to its Legislators, replacing the 400 page books that they were previously required to bring to each session. These legislative iPads allow for easy collaboration among committees, in addition to providing access to email, calendars, and web research tools while in session.
Do It Yourself
Because every business is different and has different needs, you may determine that your business would be better served by developing an app that is specific to your industry or organizational structure, or that does something that an off-the-shelf app from the App Store cannot satisfy. The same powerful development tools that Apple uses to create apps have been made available to the developer community to create iOS apps for unique businesses and business functions.
If you have the expertise and resources to develop an app, designing your own allows you to own the code, ensuring that no other business is employing your solutions. Developing an in-house app is great for many businesses because it can be distributed among all employees, ensuring organizational cohesion, promoting collaboration and increasing efficiency across the board.
The new iPad looks and acts much like the iPad 2, but that is in no way a bad thing. Both devices are capable of increasing productivity and growing your business through cloud-based computing, cross collaboration among employees, and specialized app use. Most importantly, though, the iPad will grow your business by connecting you and your employees with technology in a positive and productive way.