For consumers, a successful deployment is a simple matter of unwrapping the cellophane. For medium or large-size companies, getting employees up and running with iPads can be a bit trickier.
In the past few months, several of our clients have issued iPads to employees. We’ve seen this process go smoothly. We’ve also seen some disappointments.
In the spirit of shared learning, we thought it worthwhile to share some of this accumulated wisdom with the TabTimes community. Here are the top 5 stumbling points in iPad rollouts:
Employees need to be trained how to use the iPad. Given Apple’s user-friendly design this might seem hard to believe. But the truth of the matter is that the average worker has spent little or no time using iOS software and applications. So explaining simple features – like sleep, cut-and-paste, and how to keep the iPad screen clean – will spare much pain in the long term.
Of particular confusion, we’re finding, are distinctions between the company app store and iTunes. One final thing: teaching people how to “quit” applications in use on the iPad will do your IT team a great favor; often times iOS slows or crashes because too many apps are in use. Most people have no idea how to resolve this.
A solution in search of a problem
“We bought iPads but we’re not sure what to use them for.” It’s a common refrain – one we’re hearing from companies where the decision to adopt tablets was made without giving much thought as to how they’d be used.
That’s not always a bad thing: sometimes getting devices in people’s hands accelerates inspiration. But that of course depends on whose hands are holding the iPad.
Our advice to companies searching for the “killer app” is to provide iPads to the early adopters / thought leaders within the organization. Let these people make sense of the technology and propose ways for how your company can benefit from it.
No success metrics
This is often an outgrowth of lesson #2. Without a specific problem to solve, it’s tough to evaluate the success of the solution. But let’s say you are deploying iPads to address a specific problem. Have you determined the specific criteria for success?
Simple polling tools that let employees rate a solution as “excellent, average, or unsatisfactory” will give IT and marketing some very quick and honest learning to gauge success. Replacing the anecdotal with objective success data will also help you to challenge iPad naysayers within your team.
iPads with Wi-Fi are $130 cheaper than their 4G-enabled cousins. What’s more, mobile service runs about $20/month per user. So it’s easy to understand why companies would opt for the Wifi version of the tablet. And in certain use cases (in-store displays, kiosks, etc) a Wifi-enabled iPad is all that’s necessary.
But if you’re committed to empowering a mobile work force, and you want your team to extract maximum value from the technology, then 4G technology is critical to this mission. We’ve yet to work with a client who has regretted spending on 4G iPads. By contrast, pretty much everyone we speak to who has bought Wi-Fi-only tablets intends to upgrade.
Experience and humiliation have taught us to not to rely on internet service when the professional stakes are high. The same goes for the apps we use on our work iPads.
Make sure that whatever apps your team uses – custom or otherwise – are equipped for offline use. The data should download while the app is connected to the internet and then cached locally – whether the app is open or closed, the iPad on or off.
Browser-based (HTML5) apps are particular problematic so far as these performance and reliability issues are concerned. We’re also seeing people struggle with file-sharing apps, which usually require the user to specifically designate a file for local, offline storage rather than do it by default.
When it comes to networking issues, Murphy’s Law shows no mercy. Set your team up for success; make sure that any software they’re provided will perform perfectly whether the iPad is connected or not.
Jordan Stolper is the CEO of StoryDesk. He will be speaking at TabTimes' TABLET STRATEGY event in New York on April 27, 2012.