The iPad marked a new chapter in computing when it debuted in 2010. Selling millions, it spurred a new species of computer technology, tablets, and quickly made its presence known in the IT world. This past week, the iPad 2 was announced by the tablet bearer himself, Steve Jobs, in which he stated that 2011 would be the year of the iPad 2. What does that actually mean and how does it translate for business productivity for small to medium businesses? Let’s take a look at how the iPad can be used for business needs.
Aside from the usual software like Safari, Contacts, Mail, etc. The iPad does offer realistic solutions for the SMB block. First off, the iPad integrates with Microsoft Exchange as well as Lotus Dominoes and other standards-based messaging systems to allow mail to be connected with your company’s mail server. It supports most of the common VPN protocols so that you can connect it, through the Internet, to your company’s network.
To fit into your specific business needs, you would have to have an app well designed for it. But there are “generic” apps for any business. For example, if your business is focused on material production, AutoCAD WS allows you to view, edit and share 3D CAD files. This can translate to you showing your design schemes of your products that you have designed for the customer, in a dexterous and interactive way. The modification of these files and the ability to change 3D perspectives can really add to the “sell” of the product. This can be typically handy if you’re in a meeting and need to share your diagrams with your clients. The iPad 2 can be coupled with a separately sold connector allowing you to share your screen and your AutoCAD designs to a projector or screen VIA an HDMI connection, thereby giving the meeting room a visually tangible side. The iPad’s sleek design is sure to wow your clients or customers and can pay your company’s reputation a good dividend let alone the presentation power it holds.
If you need to keep track of your product, MicroStrategy is an app that produces visual reports and graphs of your most important business metrics, such as product profits and sales.
The form factor is also to take note of. Being a tablet it is essentially a flat touch screen without a physical keyboard of any sort. When needed the keyboard comes on the screen and you are able to touch the keys on the screen to give your input. The sleek design makes any owner look savvy, but looks aside the weight of being just 1.5 pounds makes it easy to carry. The new iPad 2 comes with a special cover that doubles as a back rest to allow you to use it on a desk. So in terms of being a laptop replacement, the iPad does offer that flexibility.
For IT specific needs, something I would love to have, are apps like Wyse PocketCloud. It allows you to RDP into your computer and performs remote operations. There are other remote apps like iSSH that allows SSH, Telnet, and Terminal connections.
Apple has a division that not many people know about that can aid businesses with their needs in terms of Apple’s service. It is called Joint Venture and is specifically designed for SMBs and how Apple’s products can better help them with their business. Furthermore, the iPad’s ubiquity gives it the potential to have many more business apps in the future. I don’t see how the iPad won’t touch upon most areas of business, given its growth rate. Apps aren’t cheap to design specifically for your company, but rest assured that the creative potential of the iPad and the geniuses at work in Apple can make any business utility come to reality.