As we continue down the long and convoluted journey of enterprise mobility, we often here talk about mobility management. I still believe that managing the mobile implementations within (and increasingly beyond) the workplace is critical, but I also like to occasionally take a step back and see how we can take a broader perspective on our favorite IT subject.
In 2011, two of the major areas of “chatter” for the mobilized business are: Tablets and the perennial (and elusive) favorite – Productivity. Isn’t it great then to find a story about how five companies are using the iPad to enhance productivity in the workplace? It must be pretty important if (as of the time of this missive) it has garnered 1600 retweets and 700 share on LinkedIn.
Given its popularity, I think it’s a genuine shame that the article is missing the major point. The iPad is not the key enabler for enhanced productivity in these five companies.
Now in fairness, the article does in passing say one thing:
Less than a year after the device’s launch, however, the jury is still out on its net productivity. And these five companies are making a pretty strong case for how Apple’s tablet (and it’s competitors, when they catch up) has a lot of potential to make business more efficient.
So two things. First of all, are we to believe that the iPad is the key to productivity enhancement or is it tablets in general? There are only seven words in the entire article that suggest it goes beyond just the iPad.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to harp on the iPad. I’m one of the few people on the planet who still doesn’t have one, but that’s more because I wanted to wait for the second generation (third if you count what Bill Gates thought of 10 years ago) tablets to come out (I digress).
What is the difference between having that same application on a BlackBerry PlayBook, the HP TouchPad, the Motorola Xoom or any other tablet (please Microsoft, put Windows MOBILE on a Nokia tablet)?
Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Rien. Niente.
Take Angry Birds (as even cited in the article) for example. Isn’t it basically the same on Android as on iOS? Now, does the larger real estate provided by a seven or 10 inch screen provide increased convenience? Of course it does! The point is that it’s not the iPad that has enhanced the productivity of the five companies cited in the article. It’s the applications that they are using on the larger and more convenient form factor.
Even more importantly, what enhanced productivity in those companies is not the applications per se, but the fact that these five companies realized that there were tangible benefits from mobilizing some of their business processes. Or in other terms, they could enhance their business processes through mobile solutions. There’s no doubt in my mind that they did some sort of strategic planning to better understand their (former) business processes, saw that there were areas for improvement and then assessed various means to improve those business processes through mobile solutions. The tablet was a means to the greater end.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I fully realize that the iPad was first to market, and has had a wild success thus far. The competition has been late to respond, and the current crop of Android based tablets leaves users wanting more. But that’s because of the software on those slabs….it’s not that there is anything materially wrong with the hardware. That’s all going to change in 2011, and as such, I think we should hence think more about how the tablet form factor (and not just the iPad) will continue to drive better business processes and the enterprise mobility revolution.