The Apple iPad has quickly become a ubiquitous appliance in our culture. Like many Apple innovations, it wasn’t the first to market but it has solved problems better than the earliest tablets focused solely on reading. What’s interesting is how quickly we’ve adopted the iPad into our lifestyles for problems or opportunities we didn’t know we had.
Most people I know see the iPad as a personal media access point for email, movies and reading. I frequently get questions on whether or not I use it for business and what Apps I find useful. The truth is, I bought it as an experiment, to use as a business tool (an expensive experiment). I have a laptop but I wanted to have something with me that was instant on to keep up with my personal email, begin building a consulting business, and capture and develop content as I encountered and developed ideas. It had to be useful in my day job for taking notes and exchanging email so it could become an unobtrusive companion in my work life. I have an iPad 2 unit with 64 Gig Memory and a 3G cell modem that keeps me connected on business travel or on a camping trip.
So what Apps and functions have been working for me? I purchased Apple’s iWork app suite that provides word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations for $9.99 each. These provide the ability to read and write MS Office documents and I have had very good luck with compatibility. I adopted a wireless keyboard for heavy note taking such as when leading a meeting and typing. The iCloud document storage allows me to move files back and forth to other computers and email is a quick file conveyance. I am typing this blog note on Pages and then saving as MS Word document. The Keynote presentation app allows me to save, revise and rehearse presentations. I have also used the VGA connector to present a file originating in PowerPoint with great results. I’m not as big a fan of the Numbers spreadsheet functionality for Excel. It works fine to open most MS Excel files and make small changes. I don’t know if an iPad app for MS Office will be released. The point is that I can do more with the iWork suite than I expected.
I have found some more Apps that I believe are noteworthy for Innovation Professionals. Evernote (free) is the tool to take and organize notes, ideas, and clippings from other content. I am organized into several notebooks by subject or client. Key words can be added to each entry to expedite searching. The really big deal is the integration to the free Evernote client on Mac OS or Windows PCs. The Evernote cloud keeps me up to date seamlessly with my notes and ideas on all my devices.
I use Grafio for flowcharting and sketching. There is a lite version that is free but I have upgraded to the full version. I’m no artist but it sure helps me get the idea across. JMP Graph Builder is a free App that links to the JMP statistical analysis program on the PC to turn the PC analysis into data visualization to go. I must warn you that JMP is a full feature statistics program and priced accordingly so the free App is of no value to you unless you’re into JMP. Adobe Reader for iPad is free and provides my place to store documents in PDF format for quick reference. The Apple provided iBook App is another alternative for PDF references.
My killer App today is Slalom. This App implements the Value Innovations value curve methodology on the iPad in a format that engages teams in discussing and presenting data from customer contextual interviews. This is a tool that makes the “fuzzy front end of innovation” a lot clearer. I have found it useful to engage potential clients with just the interactive discussion of the sample Carbon Motors case supplied in the App.
GoToMeeting now has an iPad client App that I have used successfully to join a seminar from The American Chemical Society. It worked but I was not able to submit questions or raise my hand like in the browse environment.
I have just purchased Bento, an entry level database App from FileMaker. This also shares data via cloud to my Mac PC. I’m looking forward to getting data and things organized. I’ll report my progress as I learn. I also have downloaded Fuse for video meetings. Now I need to find someone else using it to try it out.
What’s on your iPad? How are you using it for business and most importantly for innovation? Please drop me a line to share results.