Not just for Angry Birds: How iPads are invading the workplace

embracing the iPad at work

Apple’s iPad continues to lead the tablet charge hitting record sales of 26 million in the final three months of last year. It’s an incredibly desirable product and it’s not just consumers who are buying. The iPad is breaking into the working world in a big way. 

Apple’s first commercial for the most recent version, the iPad Air, hinged on the idea that it’s much more than an entertainment device suggesting “It’s used by scientists and artists, scholars, and students. It’s been to classrooms, board rooms, expeditions … even to space. And we can’t wait to see where you’ll take it next.” When it comes to advancing humanity, we’re not sure it measures up to the pencil just yet, but no one wants to argue with Walter White (Bryan Cranston voices the Apple ad).

There’s no doubt that iPads are being adopted by professionals in various fields, in fact, they may even be taking over some jobs. Here are a few industries where iPad is invading the workplace.

Hotels and the iPort

The LVMH Group recently installed iPort’s LaunchPort product, which is a wireless charging and magnetic mounting system for the iPad, in its Cheval Blanc resort in the Maldives. Staff and customers can use the iPad at the front desk, concierge, spa, and on-site restaurants and bars, as well as all 45 villas. An iPad can easily serve as a 24-hour concierge service, and people can use it to book appointments and make reservations at the spa and restaurants, but it’s the villas where things get really interesting. LaunchPort was originally designed for home automation, so it can be used to lock doors, control the TV, and turn the lights down low in any room.

We liked the consumer case and stand combo that iPort showed off at CES, so LaunchPort sounds intriguing. If my editor will just pay for a trip to the Maldives I’ll be sure to tell you just how well it works.

iPortLaunchport

Using iPads in hotels is nothing new. The InterContinental Hotels Group equip the concierge with one and they offer a great app that lets customers book and manage various elements of their stay. A few upscale hotels are taking things further by offering customers an iPad when they check in. The Berkeley Hotel in London provides an iPad with selected apps that serves as a travel guide. The Plaza in New York provides a guest iPad that can be used to order room service, request wake-up calls, and make appointments.

iPad at retail

IPads are popping up in stores everywhere. For retailers iPads can perform all the functions of a PC, but free you from a desk. You can stick QuickBooks on there or use Numbers to track your inventory and employee schedules. They’re also starting to serve as point of sale systems. There’s no need for a till when you can ring up sales, scan barcodes, take orders, and accept payments, and there are add-ons that allow you to swipe credit cards and print receipts, or you can opt to email receipts, which is also an excuse to capture a customer’s email address. Apps and services like PayPal and LevelUp can also enable retailers to accept mobile payments from the customer’s phone.

Sales staff on the floor equipped with iPads can take orders and check stock instantly. Customers can use an iPad to customize products or order from a more extensive choice that isn’t necessarily on-site.

The iPad as a restaurant or bar menu

There’s the same potential for POS systems and behind the scenes jobs for iPads in restaurants and bars, but they can also replace waiting staff to some extent. The MenuPad system allows customers to browse a menu with photos and order food at the table using an iPad. The orders are relayed to the back of house directly eliminating any mistakes, but also any human contact, although a server is still going to have to bring your food to the table. A few restaurants have also dispensed with an in-house sommelier in favor of an iPad with a wine recommendation app and access to the on-site wine list.

MenuPad-2

Our favorite use of an iPad in a bar has to be the Japanese Logbar. Every patron is handed an iPad on entry and it can be used to check the drinks list and order, but you also have to set up a profile, complete with likes and dislikes and a photo, before launching into the cocktail mixing process and creating your own drinks. Other people in the bar can order your drinks, like them and comment on them, and best of all you get a small, 50 yen commission on any of your creations that get ordered.

The iPad as a digital clipboard

An iPad is an obvious replacement for a clipboard. It can connect up to a database and you can input notes, which makes it ideal for all manner of boring tasks like stocktaking, inventory updates, and checklists for inspections. Throw dedicated apps into the mix for specific industries, along with the portability it offers, and it’s no surprise to see iPads in car dealerships, in court rooms, on construction sites, in warehouses, on factory floors, and even in fields and churches.

iPad’s expanding role in Healthcare

It’s ideal for the healthcare industry. Patients can fill out admission forms, access their records, and provide feedback. Doctors can access medical files, update records, check up on symptoms, and order prescriptions. It also provides a neat solution to their horrible handwriting; there’s no telling how many lives that could save.

iPadHealthcare

The Mayo clinic and The Ottawa Hospital both use iPads and suggest that they save medical professionals time, offer instant access to records and data, and an easy way to update medical files and communicate with patients.

Police and firefighters are carrying iPads

Police and firefighters are also using iPads days. The Central County Fire Department in California uses them for incoming 911 calls, building schematics, navigation, communication, and more. The Redlands Police Department in LA also adopted them as a notepad replacement that also pulls up photos of suspects, access maps, take photos, and scans barcodes on stolen products to identify and trace them.

Australian police in New South Wales ran a successful trial program last year using iPad Minis to issue traffic tickets. They are set to roll out to the Northern Territory police force this year with apps that let them to run license checks and record crime scenes. The Metropolitan Police Service in London is also running a trial this year.

Secret of iPad’s success

It’s all about the apps. Apple has been pushing the iPad as a business tool for years now and it’s done some work on security standards to that end, but it’s the quality and wealth of apps on offer for various industries that really ensures the iPad is breaking into the workforce ahead of Android.

As a tool, its usefulness is obvious. It can replace all sorts of traditional systems from paper and pen, to desktop computer, to POS till systems. Its role replacing workers is a little more ominous. Could we see waiting staff dwindling, concierge roles fading away, and sales staff replaced by iPad terminals? What do you think? Be honest now, are there times you’d rather deal with an iPad than a person? Post a comment.

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