I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.
When the iPad launched in January 2010, the anti-iPad rhetoric began before the keynote had even ended. Pundits condemned it as little more than a big iPod Touch. What we underestimated - and what Apple chief Steve Jobs saw - was the appeal of the new format as a means of consuming information in a more intuitive way. With 65% of Fortune 500 companies now using it and with iSuppli predicting sales of 13.8m units in 2010, the iPad has blazed the trail for a plethora of tablets, based on Windows, WebOS and Android.
Businesspeople can use the iPad as a productivity tool, and CIOs are no exception. Here are five key things that IT decision makers can do with the iPad, and some applications to support those tasks.
Admittedly only for the mature CIO with a finger on their department's pulse, business intelligence applications are an excellent way to keep track of an IT department's health. The iPad brings a new dimension to tasks such as technical data analysis and business process modelling.
There are a variety of apps for BI on the iPad, although many of them are based on a company's specific serv
er or desktop software, and need it to operate. One appealing product that exists independently of a specific companion server is Roambi which provides a visual interface into data from a variety of sources including spreadsheets, Crystal Reports, Salesforce CRM, and Google Docs.
Scheduling and task management
The Calendar application on the iPad is beautifully designed, but lacks support for tasks. I much prefer Pocket Informant HD which lets me synchronise multiple Google calendars, just as the iPad's built-in calendar does, but which also enables me to enter tasks with a surprising amount of metadata. Tasks can be sorted by a variety of criteria, and they can also be sychronised with the online service ToodleDo.
hen CIOs aren't keeping tabs on statistics, they're monitoring their portfolio of projects. The iPad enables you to do that in your lap, swiping and zooming deadlines and tasks with a pinch of your fingers. App4Mac's Projector app, also available as a desktop product, has been redesigned specifically with the iPad in mind. Fourthframe's SG Project is another title developed specifically for professional project managers.
The modern CIO differentiates themselves on their ability as a strategic thinker, rather than a mere project manager. Keeping abreast of industry trends has never been more important. The iPad was made for information consumption, and there are a variety of tools available.
While CIO magazine and Wired have developed specific readers for the iPad, gen
ric readers let you absorb a wider range of information sources from one program. Zinio is an electronic magazine reader that carries many major titles, while Flipboard brings an altogether new approach to absorbing information, taking Twitter feeds and putting them into a magazine format. The application can take Twitter lists, meaning that you can compile, say, a list of your favourite CIO Twitter feeds and flick through them.
Amazon also has a version of its Kindle app for the platform, enabling you to carry a library of books easily and quickly. If you haven't yet read Fred Brooks' seminal Mythical Man Month, you can download it in seconds. Unfortunately, it won't currently read PDF files, meaning that you'll need Apple's own iBooks application, or the excellent Stanza app for your own content.
Blogging on the go
CIOs who want to get on in their careers these days will focus on appearing as thought leaders. There are a variety of CIO blogs out there that enable their authors to promote their own vision for IT. Will you join them? If so, then it would be handy to be able to blog quickly and easily, when the idea strikes you, without having to wait for a laptop to boot up.
Blogpress is one of the best blogging platforms for the iPad, covering a variety of blog systems including Wordpress, Moveable Type, and Typepad. It also covers Facebook and Twitter, should you wish to extend your coverage to those other social media types, too.
With IT facing an increasingly challenging environment, it pays to be as accountable and responsive as possible. Armed with these tools, you'll be a productivity powerhouse with your iPad. Now, all you need is to use these reasons to justify the purchase to your expense department or significant other. Unfortunately, there's no app for that...
This article was researched and written in collaboration with my Futurity Media colleague Danny Bradbury.