If you were stranded on a deserted island and only allowed one piece of technology, what would it be? For me, the answer is obvious – my iPad. As a hands-on executive who wants to be constantly connected to all areas of my business operations (even on a deserted island), the iPad has given me the freedom to access high-level information anytime, anywhere.
As of January 2011, some estimates claim Apple has sold over 14 million iPads. The enterprise market is looking for ways to make the iPad a feasible option for business users in a world traditionally dominated by PCs. So what makes it such a compelling device? Here are a few reasons why I think the iPad is an essential tool for executives.
It may sound obvious, but the ability to take my iPad everywhere is extremely important. From the treadmill to the airplane, it allows me to keep up with information that is relevant to my interests. Even in a world full of sophisticated smart phones, the iPad provides exponentially greater capabilities for both work and play. The world was smaller and less portable before the iPad, and I don’t miss the limitations of tiny screens. Nor do I miss lugging a heavy laptop from one end of the airport to the other.
For executives, the real value of the iPad comes when you connect it to the business tools you rely on every day. Here are some of the apps I use to accomplish this.
PocketCloud is a must-have app for executives who want to bridge the gap between the functionality of their PC and the portability of an iPad – truly giving you the best of both worlds. PocketCloud lets you set up remote access to any desktop or Terminal Server from your iPad. This is the most critical app for staying connected to all your important resources.
Microsoft OneNote is a great program for taking notes, keeping them organized and having access to them at all times. It syncs with your PC and also with OneNote in the cloud. This means you can take notes on your iPad during a meeting, and then review them afterward on your PC. Adding the portability of the iPad to a powerful Microsoft application creates another “best of both worlds” scenario.
CWR Mobile CRM is a mobile client for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. A great way to stay updated on customer data and account information from the field.
Skygrid is a popular news reader app that aggregates news from around the world on topics of your choosing. It’s a great way to stay updated on industry news and other information relevant to your business or interests.
Dragon Dictation is a free voice recognition app that writes what you say. Send emails and text messages, update your Facebook status or post to Twitter simply by speaking into your iPad or iPhone. Send reminder notes to yourself while driving. It’s especially useful for long emails, and it can even add punctuation, indents and bullets on command.
SignMyPad allows you to digitally sign pdfs from your iPad using the stylus. Contracts still have to be signed even if you’re travelling, and this app makes it easy to download pdfs from your email, sign and send them back.
I admire what the iPad can do, and I also appreciate what it can’t do. I like the fact that it doesn’t make it easy for me to delve into the weeds – editing presentations, updating account information, and tweaking pivot tables. That’s not the best use of an executive’s time. Instead, it disciplines my brain to stay focused on high-level priorities – business strategy, vision, and execution.
Don’t expect the iPad to replace your laptop. That’s not where its true value lies. Using it in conjunction with the other devices and technologies you already have will free you from constraints you didn’t realize were there. You will be surprised how easy it is to connect to your Microsoft world. For executives who take a hands-on approach to managing their business, the iPad can act as a window to your world, allowing you to focus on the forest instead of the trees.