To help small business owners and managers who may be exploring how they can use the iPad tablet to enhance their work productivity, I’ve drawn up five practical ways that they can use the iPad in their business.
1. Office Productivity Tool
One obvious use of the iPad would be its use as an office productivity tool to work on documents and spreadsheets. Fortunately, there a wide range of productivity Apps available on the iPad, including favorites such as Documents To Go for iOS, Quickoffice for the iPad, or even Apple’s own products such as Pages, Keynote and Numbers.
While on this topic, workers who feel constrained by the touch-screen keyboard may choose from a range of portable keyboards such as the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover from Logitech or the ZAGGkeys Flex from ZAGG, among others.
2. AirPlay Mirroring
A feature that became available in iOS 5, AirPlay Mirroring essentially allows the iPhone 4S, the iPad 2 and the new iPad to mirror their display via Wi-Fi to an HDTV connected to an Apple TV. This opens up a range of uses from using the iPad as a whiteboard during a team brainstorming session, to communicating complex ideas or displaying illustrations at staff meetings. Indeed, you could even use AirPlay Mirroring to make a sales presentation using apps that may not support external displays.
3. File Sharing
Rather than having to print stacks of documents for meetings, how much easier would it be to make supporting reference materials available electronically using the iPad? You can use cloud-based services such as Dropbox or Box not only to disseminate PDF documents, but to distribute videos and audio files too.
4. Note Taking
Using the Apple iPad as an electronic notepad is another great work use, given how easy it is to misplace paper notepads or slips of paper. Though there are a number of apps available that will capture handwritten notes, I recommend typing your notes into the iPad using the onscreen keyboard or an external keyboard. This makes it possible to perform a search and to maximize the iPad’s capabilities.
On this front, apps such as Microsoft’s OneNote for the iPad or Evernote support both text and images, and, as an added benefit, you can sync them to the cloud.
5. Digital Organizer
The iOS platform comes with support for Exchange ActiveSync, which means that email messages, contacts, calendars and reminders from Exchange Server can be wirelessly synchronized to the iPad. This is incredibly useful and transforms the iPad into a digital organizer that employees can access when away from their desk, or when on-the-move. Moreover, any changes will be wirelessly synchronized and reflected on both the iPad and Microsoft Outlook.
Do you have suggestions for additional ways to use the iPad in your business? We’d love to hear how you use the iPad at work, so add your thoughts in the comments section below.
Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.
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