The prediction of the iPad has been around at least since the days of Star Trek. As Captain Kirk explored the final frontier solving intergalactic problems, he ever so effortlessly completed his paperwork. But it’s the future, where there is no paperwork. The yeoman hands Captain Kirk an electronic slate, complete with electronic pen at the top. Kirk signs the log almost subconsciously so he can get back to torpedoing Klingons into space dust.
Business has long been working with the concept of the paperless office. But, I don’t recall ever going to an office that didn’t have many, many filing cabinets. The paperless office has simply been a myth. Why? The functional needs of office work have always dictated the need for a simple, tangible form of transcription – in other words, paper. There has never been a way to get around it. Paper is cheap, thin, functional and above all practical. All of the attempts to rid the office of paper in the past always revolved around having bulky desktop computers to eliminate the burden. But has that been practical? No! Trading in one scourge for another really isn’t enough to make the office hum.
What has been needed is a new platform. Something that could act like that place of paper… without all the buik. Enter the iPad. At first glance, the iPad is a about the size of a clipboard, without the clip of course, albeit it is about 2 or 3 times as thick as a clipboard. On closer inspection, the iPad is sleek in design. With an aluminum body, it’s both light-weight and durable. The screen is vivid with full color and good resolution of 1024 by 768. The screen size is about that of a small sheet of paper, by my calculations the dimensions of the screen should be 7.75 by 5.8.
Consider the typical administrative type of business: perhaps mortgages, insurance, investments or maybe banking. A client comes in and sits in front of the desk of an associate. Traditionally, we have seen either paperwork exchanged back and forth with fingers running across the pages. Or perhaps a monitor is turned where both the associate and the customer can read what’s on the screen. Either method works, but is still clumsy. Imagine how much easier the process can be with the two sitting next to each other running through the documents on a slate, the slim device either shared between the two, or handed back and forth as one needs to take closer focus. Small change in the way things play-out, but a big change behind the scenes. We now have entered the era of paperless business!
Don’t underestimate this change. It may seem small, but the amount of money it can save is huge. From now on, an office can get rid of the huge filing cabinets containing all that paper. Along with that can go the industrial strength paper shredders and the document destruction and disposal services. No more deliveries of case after case of paper either. And that copier that is always on the blink anyway? It works because it isn’t handling near the load it once did. This device can replace all the paper versions of those documents. In your hands you will hold the contents of every filing cabinet in the office. And each of the iPads you have around the office can do the same. Everyone has the files.
But have we been relegated to work in the office? Again, no! One can take this slate anywhere. It is simply electric paper. As it is, it can travel in delivery vehicles to document transfers of merchandise. You might fill out estimates or have invoices signed. This technology can help emergency services personel see floor plans, or lookup the latest response instructions. Since these devices can be connected to 3g networks, they can work most anywhere. It is just a matter of taking it with you and making sure the 10 hour battery is charged.
One other feature that has made this technology possible is the availability of a large portfolio of applications. We have all heard the line, “There’s an app for that!” In our personal lives and various common, daily tasks that serves a great purpose. It allows us the basic utilities we need to make it useful for us. Whether for personal use or business, it will surely replace the organizer for one’s appointments, address book and correspondence. The convenience of easily searching for your documents, addresses or directions is far too great. Keeping your photos with you at all times or being able to simply show off your portfolio will make this unit a must have by most people today. Yes, there are smart phones that are offering these features today, but can they offer the visual ergonomics that we need? Smart phones are great, but the larger screen size of the iPad allows a more comprehensive view of a task, calendar, product list or whatever. However, the two devices will probably remain complementary, the smart phones used for voice communications and quick applications, while the slate computers will be used for more robust and comprehensive applications.
A new era has begun. Make no mistake, the iPad is going to affect our lives on a daily basis offering the visual ergonomics that smart phones cannot. We will start to see more companies take advantage of this technology from performing administrative tasks to creating a more effective customer interaction. Although the iPad has not succeeded yet, it has many basic features to make that possibility very strong. Bottom line of it is, you need to look at this technology. Ask yourself where can it help you or your company. Those of you that utilize this technology first stand a much better chance of reaping greater rewards.