5 Years On: 5 Lessons the iPad Taught Us

Posted on April 28, 2015

On April 3, 2010, customers lined up around the block to buy the Apple iPad. Some journalists mocked it as a solution looking for a problem " others proclaimed it to be the end of the laptop and desktop computer. A quarter of a billion iPads later, the device still has its detractors and fans, but we've all learned a few important lessons about how mobile devices affect the work environment since the iPad's introduction.

Of the many lessons learned from five years of successful (and failed) iPad launches, the biggest lesson is that while iPads are easy to use, but managing and deploying them effectively isn"t.

One of the first lessons learned is that the tablet met a need in the computing space that just wasn't met before. Tim Cook, then COO of Apple, explained it on a conference call with analysts in journalists back in 2010 when he said, "To me, it's a no-brainer. I just can't think of a single thing a netbook does well." But the iPad's mix of local storage, portability, and connectivity solved problems that the ultra-compact netbooks didn't.

Consumers and businesses alike agreed with the man who is now Apple's CEO. Today, while netbook sales have left the category nearly dead, mobile device sales are skyrocketing. IDC reported recently that iPad shipments were down 17.8% during 2014 and worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market's inception in 2010, the iPad remains a popular choice for enterprise, small business, and individual users alike.

Secure mobile printing leader Breezy's CEO and founder Jared Hansen says that the drop in iPad sales may be due in large part because of the introduction of larger-format smartphones like the iPhone 6 which give many users the larger display they wanted without carrying a second device. Apple CEO Cook says that he remains very bullish on the product that launched the tablet category give years ago, especially since the 2014 partnership with former rival IBM is showing huge growth potential for the iPad.

History Repeats Itself

Back in 1985, when the Tandy Model 100 notebook computer dominated the portable computing market and laptops were in their infancy, the New York Times noted that laptops weren't replacing desktops largely because the screen quality was much lower, and the tools/software weren't advanced enough. The article said that what looked like a fad was beginning to fizzle.

Of course, that never happened, and laptops continue to replace desktops even today. The Times article also speculated whether to not people really wanted to work on a mobile device. "No one questions that desire anymore," Hansen points out. "The desire people have to remain connected no matter where they are is the key to the BYOD movement. In 1985, Eric Sandberg-Diment wrote in the New York Times, "I still can't imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing."

Now, a fishing trip is hardly the most unusual place people use their mobile devices. One survey showed that nearly 20% of 20-something smartphone owners admitted using smartphones during sex, and 9% of women in labor used a smartphone in the delivery room. Twelve percent of users admit to using them during worship services, prompting some churches to install jammers for use during sacraments.

It's a fact that today, Internet users spend far more time on mobile devices than on desktops.

Mobile Devices Increase Office Printing Needs

Once upon a time, people believed that there would soon be a paperless office. The idea that paper use would decline thanks to mobile technology was widespread when the laptop was introduced, and again when mobile devices arrived on the scene.

"I still hear it sometimes from IT executives today," says Breezy's CEO Jared Hansen. "When I hear them say that part of their ROI from the iPad will come from less printing, I have to explain the reality that people are increasing the number of documents they print from mobile devices and tablets. Companies attempting to save money on paper/printing with mobile devices are more likely to find that by making it inconvenient for users who want to print, they reduce adoption and the productivity gains they would otherwise receive."

InfoTrends says technical barriers to printing keep many mobile users from getting the job done, but tools like Breezy's secure mobile printing solutions remove those barriers instantly. The influential _What They Think? _Survey shows that mobile device printing continues to increase as a percentage of all office printing. "The key to ROI in a tablet deployment is productivity, and the key to productivity is saving time " not creating barriers that add to the length of time a simple task takes," Hansen notes. "You want users to use their tablets as much as possible, and users want and need to print. So the answer lies in making printing easier, not harder.

"Instead of limiting print options, tools like pull-printing that reduce wastage, and secure mobile printing that allows users to print from any device instead of taking the time to transfer information from one device to another in order to enable printing."

Corporations should not be trying to remove a user's ability to print from their work device. Imagine the reduction in productivity and long lines if an IT team decided to limit printing by removing a user's ability to print fro their private workstations in the office! Instead, users should be ushering in the mobile generation by giving users a very easy way to print from any work, including their smartphones and tablets. Savings, if any, should be reaped by reducing wastage, which is done by using pull-printing.

Planning and Employee Engagement Matter

When CIOs look back at the success or failure of an iPad deployment, case study after case study shows that the two most critical factors in whether or not the deployment achieves its goals or not are planning and employee engagement. For example, construction industry CEO Joseph Daniels, president of D7 Consulting, is pleased with his company's iPad deployment, but thinks some more planning and testing might have saved time and money.

D7 found that, while the iPad could handle the dirt of a construction site better than expected, they had a tendency to overheat in that environment " especially on construction sites in the blistering heat of Las Vegas. A more sobering lesson that might have been avoided with planning is the experience of the Los Angeles Unified Schools System, where a $30 million project to equip every student with an iPad has been halted due to unanticipated problems.

That multi-million dollar fiasco has sparked criminal probes and a host of claims and counterclaims, but seems to boil down to two critical problems. First, the district had an urgent need to upgrade its technology, and didn't take the time to plan and test the iPad deployment. "One size does not fit all when it comes to mobile device deployments on a large scale," Hansen says. "Mobile devices are only as good as the applications they run, and the bandwidth that delivers connectivity. In Los Angeles, they found they didn't have the right apps, and they had constant bandwidth problems."

More critically, he says, there simply wasn't enough adoption in classrooms to deliver the results the district wanted. The district's bid documents for the iPad deployment insisted that all educational apps and curriculum modules used had to be designed from the beginning to meet the Common Core State Standard " but most of the curriculum materials teachers wanted to use had been retrofitted for Common Core, and didn't meet the district's criteria. "You have to have committed, motivated employees to drive usage, or they simply won't use the devices enough to deliver the productivity gains that are critical to success," he notes.

Don't Skimp on Training

Boeing learned this lesson the hard way. "It's common to hear someone in IT say something like, "At least with an iPad, there's no learning curve," Hansen says. While it's true that the devices are easy to use, integrating them effectively into a company's work flow, procedures, and policies usually isn't easy. Training isn't an option in a new device deployment, he adds.

"Consider two of the many issues that are sure to come up when an employee brings a tablet or smartphone to work, or has one issued to them by IT. First is the question of company policies on things like security or management controls, regulations like PCI, FINRA, HIPAA or others, and personal information stored on the device," Hansen says.

Without training, employees will treat an iPad like the consumer device Apple first designed, he says. "Next thing you know, they've downloaded apps from the iTunes store, and your data may be compromised in ways you might never have considered."

The second issue is one of device management. "Mobile devices get lost or stolen, and there are many legal and personnel issues associated with how IT protects company data when that happens. Plus, there's the question of tracking the devices and the information stored on them. Without an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution that includes print security and tracking, CIO's can be leaving a serious hole in security and governance," Hansen says.

"It's not hard to install and manage solutions like Breezy or an EMM solution from a leading vendor like the ones we partner with on an iPad," he notes. "But it can be difficult to explain what that means to employees and make sure they know how it affects their daily work."

Breezy delivers device and operating system agnostic secure mobile printing with on-device encryption for smartphones and tablets running Android and iOS operating systems. Breezy's secure mobile printing technology is fully integrated with leading EMM providers like AirWatch, Aruba, Citrix, Good Technology, IBM (Fiberlink's MaaS360), MobileIron and many others, and can add an extra layer of protection to the mobile devices that connect to your network or store your data. For more information on mobile device security and secure mobile printing, watch this video from Breezy, download The Definitive Guide to Mobile Printing, a free ebook, or click here to schedule a Breezy demo now.

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