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How the iPad is changing work, and working together

Apple tablet computer creating a mobile communion with instant-on, ubiquitous access

By , Network World
September 12, 2011 06:30 AM ET
iPad 2

Network World - When Hugh Owen wakes up in the morning, the first thing he reaches for after the alarm clock is his iPad 2. Even before he gets out of bed, he's started reviewing the flock of corporate reports on yesterday's metrics and today's plans.

Owen is director of mobile marketing for MicroStrategy, a McLean, Va., vendor of business intelligence software. He, and others at the company, say the iPad's attributes are leading to unexpected changes in the way people work and work together.

About 2,300 MicroStrategy employees now have an Apple iPad tablet, usually an iPad 2, and many, like Owen, also have an iPhone 4. [For the MicroStrategy's iPad deployment challenges, see the previous related story "iPads power productivity gains at MicroStrategy."] In many but not all cases, the tablet replaces a Windows laptop. Some of the tablets have 3G cellular capability; others rely only on Wi-Fi for network connections and Internet access.

They run some existing Web applications, originally created for the laptops. Employees view and work with current business data pulled from the MicroStrategy BI suite. They create, share and view a fast-growing array of PDF-based documents, and watch or show corporate videos.

BACKGROUND: iPad 2 both excites and frustrates business customers

Increasingly, MicroStrategy is creating its own internal iOS applications, such as one that lets users file expense reports, time-off requests, and a bunch of other similar internal housekeeping; and supervisors can approve these whenever and wherever they can wirelessly log in via their iPad.

The tablets soon will be updated with iOS 5, the latest version, due to be released this fall.

The tablet is causing the vendor to shift more focus to iPad-based BI apps that its customers use to recast arcane analytics into readily comprehensible, near real-time information for business decisions.

Owen estimates that about 50% of his time is spent at his office desk in McClean, Va. "The iPad lets me continue working and manage my team the other 50%, in meetings, for example," he says. "It's changed the way I work."

Changing the way people work

Routinely, Owen now begins his day reviewing the company's internal reports, or running his own, sometimes while still in bed. He carries the tablet to the kitchen and while making coffee checks field activities listed for the coming workday, or customer feedback posted yesterday at day's end. "Before, I had to wait until I reached my desk," he says. "Now I can start making decisions when I'm not tethered to my desk."

2011 TECH PRIORITIES: Finding a place for iPads

Owen and others think the iPad for the first time lets a mass audience easily connect to very accessible and easily used data resources and computing services. The real enablers for this have less to do with computer features like RAM and CPU power and more to do with Apple's insights into how and who uses tablets. The tablet's instant-on capability, its size and light weight, and 10-hour battery life are three keys to the iPad's success, they say.

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