A few weeks back, I wrote about a pilot iPad deployment and why it failed. The basic reasons were that the users didn't have proper expectations and/or IT hadn't set proper expectations. In a comment on that post, reader Russ expounded on that idea:
"The executives should have been told how they can use these devices to do one of the following:
1) Do something they could never do before
2) Do something more efficiently than before
3) Save the company money"
Today, I'd like to focus on option No. 1: using the iPad to do something you could never do before. When you strip away the iPad's aura, it turns out that a lot of the iPad use cases we talk about aren't really that revolutionary.
Users already have ways to remotely access email and log on to corporate networks from outside the office. Most business apps just optimize and simplify existing enterprise software. People tend to glorify these rather mundane tasks because, well, it's an iPad and look how cool it is and feel how light it is and that screen, OMG have you seen that screen?
Don't get me wrong, the iPad's approach to these tasks is still very valuable in the business world. Just ask anyone who's ever spilled a drink on a laptop on a crowded airplane food tray or pulled a shoulder from lugging a laptop around at a conference. The iPad lets us do more work in more places in less time, and that's great. But for a device that's received so many accolades, shouldn't the iPad do more?
It can. We just have to let it.
We'll truly realize the value of the iPad when, to paraphrase Russ, we use it to do things we could never do before. I came across one such example the other day while reading Variety, of all things. The entertainment trade site had an article about "Once Upon a Time," the not-as-good-as-"Lost"-but-not-bad-either ABC show about fairy tale characters trapped in the real world. It contained this passage:
"The demanding production process on 'Once' has spurred ABC Studios to pursue innovative approaches like real-time collaboration on vfx through streaming video. Directors do much of their prep work through iPad tools that allow them to do a 360-degree tour of all the show's virtual sets, plan shot lists, select lenses and lighting schemes all in a fraction of the time such advance pre-production would normally take. [ABC executive vice president Barry] Jossen boasts that every one of 'Once's' 22 episodes came in on time and on budget."
Real-time collaboration using streaming video just isn't something that would've happened before the iPad. But because "Once Upon a Time" has such a "demanding production process," the producers and directors used the iPad to innovate.
Of course, the problem in the enterprise is that such innovation rarely comes about unless there's a huge problem and all traditional means of solving it have been exhausted. This reactive approach needs to become proactive if organizations and their employees want to get the most out of the iPad.