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costs any way they could, the result has been a workforce equipped with underpowered devices, plastic enclosures and an outdated mobile paradigm that require most users to carry around a mouse and power cord to be of any real use.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 a new iPad 2 (s aapl) 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 (s msft) and Lotus Notes (s ibm) offer such solutions.
The built-in iPad Mail app will support Microsoft Exchange, MobileMe, Gmail (s goog), Yahoo (s yhoo), AOL (s 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).
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.