The headlong corporate rush to iPads is striking on several fronts. Its touch-sensitive screen in place of a keyboard, while both trendy and attractive, is probably the least important of them. What is most significant to me is that the iPad signals a major shift in what businesses now expect from the portable computers they deploy and from their road warriors who carry them.
Think about the typical laptops that armies of salespeople carry. Why have companies invested so heavily in issuing tens of millions of laptops to their sales forces? The answer is easy: Companies want their people to be able to track prospects and have immediate access to key information in corporate CRM databases. Of course, they can also use those laptops to make presentations (the frequently derided PowerPoint deck) but the main business purpose is inputting, tracking, and managing data.
The conventional wisdom about the iPad is that it’s great for consuming information, but not so great for capturing information. That argument was originally made by the technorati who proclaimed the new iPad to be mostly a consumer device. Indeed, everything about the iPad runs counter to the traditional case for using computers in the field, and no one can really say with a straight face that the iPad is ideal for plugging information into traditional enterprise applications.
The iPad’s easy-to-handle form factor and elegant touch screen interface are tailor-made for consuming and relaying ...