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Summary:

Most business users have simply had enough of dealing with outdated equipment supplied by slow-to-act IT departments, and for a very affordable price, are starting to fund their own IT revolution by bringing their new iPads to the workplace. Here’s how you can do the same.

ipad2-business

As most companies have looked to cut costs any way they could, the result has been a workforce equipped with underpowered devices, plastic enclosures and an outdated mobile paradigm that require most users to carry around a mouse and power cord to be of any real use.  Most business users have simply had enough, and for a very affordable price, are starting to fund their own IT revolution by bringing their new iPads to the workplace. Here’s how you can do the same.

Getting Connected

Getting a new iPad 2 is only half the battle.  Once you’re at work, before you can reclaim the time you once lost to reboots or hunting for the one free power outlet in the conference room, you realize you need to get connected to the corporate network.  For the most part, establishing a new connection to your place of work’s wireless network is quite easy.  If you’re running into any issues when connecting, Apple has updated its iPad networking troubleshooting guide.  You may also need to contact your IT help desk if you’re unsure about any of your connection settings.

While getting connected may have its technical challenges, don’t be too quick to overlook your company’s data policies and security guidelines concerning HIPPA, COPPA, FACTA and OPPA before attaching your personal device to the network.  Even once you’re connected to your business’s network, you may find you’re no longer connected to the internet.  This could be because you have yet to configure the proxy settings for your network. Apple has documented a series of deployment scenarios your business can adopt if you’re not the only one who’ll be using an iPad in the workplace.

Accessing Emails Calendars and Contacts

This is where things may get a little tricky, especially if your corporate email server sits behind a firewall.  If you’re going to exclusively use your iPad on your business network, they you may not have any issues.  But if you plan on taking your iPad outside of that network, it will constantly keep trying to access your email server that’s no longer accessible.  For this reason, it may be worthwhile to see if you can access your email via a web-based interface. Both Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes offer such solutions.

The built-in iPad Mail app will support Microsoft Exchange, MobileMe, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and any POP/IMAP email accounts.  Setup for these services is easy if you follow the steps outlined in Apple’s online assistant for configuring mail.  Most business users will use Exchange to sync mail, calendar and contact data.  You may need assistance from your IT help desk to identify the mail server and domain for the solution you need to connect to. Lotus Notes users also have the option to download and install the Lotus Notes Traveler app from the App Store.

If you’re interested in maintaining just your business calendar via Google Calendar and keeping other elements separate, you can set up an account specifically for that purpose, and access multiple calendars via the CalDAV interface.

Establishing a Comfortable Workspace

While the virtual keyboard is great when on the move, there are times when your needs are a little more intense.  I’ve always liked the BookArc ($29.99) from Twelve South paired with an Apple Wireless Keyboard. Another great option from Twelve South is the Compass Mobile Stand ($39.99).

JustMobile also has an impressive lineup of iPad stands, including the Slide ($39.99), the UpStand ($49.95) and the Encore ($59.99).

Sharing Ideas with Colleagues

There are thousands of apps that can help you express your ideas and make decisions that help enable your business realize its true potential. From just brainstorming a series of random thoughts in Notion’s Popplet Lite (free), to architecting the next great Internet innovation with The Omni Group’s OmniGraffle ($49.99), the options are endless.

One of the biggest trends is to replace the old school Black N Red note-taking standards of the past with more modern online repositories like Evernote (free), or if you’re looking to draft something with a little more substance, the Dropbox-powered Elements ($4.99) may suffice.  When reviewing the work of others,  I’ve also found the PDF annotation capabilities of GoodReader ($4.99) quite useful.

You may also find you don’t need more traditional editing applications like DocumentsToGo, QuickOffice, Numbers and Pages as much. I would, however, recommend using Keynote to at least start drafting a presentation or outlining a new idea.  Once you’re ready to share, connecting an iPad to an HDTV via HDMI or to a projector via VGA requires only a simple hardware accessory.

Now More Than Ever

At the latest iPad launch, I was able to talk with many individuals who all shared a common need, which was to have a simple, portable, powerful connected device.  It struck me as I was conducting the latest round of iOS benchmarks that Moore’s Law may no longer be applicable, as Apple has found a way  to enable individuals to think and communicate using less energy and less computing power, not more.  You may not be using your iPad in the workplace yet, but even if that’s the case, the day when you will isn’t far off.

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  1. Well, unless you can somehow be and will be at the employers of all your readers at the time they’ll be showing up with their iPad 2’s, what you mean to say is “Taking Your New iPad 2 to Work.” Look it up.

    1. Well, unless you have nothing better to do than post a completely unnecessary comment about the TITLE of an article, what you meant to say was nothing at all. Thanks! No “looking it up” necessary.

  2. What is the app in the photo? Is it a mind mapping tool? Or website planning tool?

    1. It looks like “Omnigraffle”. A mind mapping tool like you said.

      http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/omnigraffle/id363225984?mt=8

  3. The biggest thing holding me back is fnding a good way to sync Outlook tasks with iOS. Any recommendations?

    1. Mike I use Toodledo to sync Outlook tasks to my iPhone. Pretty sure it works for iPad.

    2. Geoffrey Goetz Mike Sunday, March 20, 2011

      I do not use exchange myself, but thete is TaskTask HD. Which is an app designed specifically for this purpose. The developer has even listed some compatibility notes on how to configure the exchange server for managing tasks with TaskTask HD. http://bit.ly/fzvXvI

  4. David van Lochem Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Sadly, this will never happen for me … our IT staff don’t even want to consider connecting smartphones to the network.

    1. Great reason to fire them all and go with an outside agency.

      1. That’s a pretty bold statement for someone who does not own all of the IP at every company that employees around the world could put at risk by connecting to the company network.

        If *you* own a company and *you* have the resources to have *your* IT Dept. do the additional work, buy the necessary technology, monitor the DYI technology and traffic, then have at it.

        Your statement also implies that an “outside agency”-run IT Dept. could make it’s own policies that could countervene a company’s own policies. That would be utter nonsense and open the IT-provider to legal liability.

  5. Many companies have security and policy around connecting personal tech to corporate network. I’d think twice before your corporate network is similar to the local Starbucks. We scan all MAC id’s and those found that are not authorized get booted, repeated connections could lead to termination.

    Many of the noted apps / use cases also seem to allude to moving corporate data outside of corporate governance (cloud based) which again often doesn’t comply due to FINRA, HIPPA regulations.

    BYOT is sticky and has a long list of concerns any employee should understand before bringing anything into work and expecting to use it.

    1. Very true. Some do not even realize that written into the terms of their employment agreement are statements so broad that they include all digital images one takes of their family as intellectual property of their employer. Granted that was not the intent of the employer, but the terms used are still very broad.

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