Are iPads for serious business? Or just Angry Birds?
February 1, 2012 12:25 PMWhile a PC might still be the centerpiece of most business desks, we are increasingly working on laptops, netbooks, smartphones and tablets, which now allow us to work outside the confines of the office.
Of these technologies, the tablet stands out as the most rapidly growing - the hot topic of the past 18 months or so. With the Apple iPad, what started out as a consumer 'must-have' is now creeping in as a business tool, and there is now some solid research to show that a switch is underway from smartphone-wielding commuters to those armed with considerably more conspicuous tablets.
In my household (an environment where iPad usage is largely dictated by a 5-year-old) it is mainly an Angry Birds display mechanism or a digital doodle pad. But the evidence is growing that tablets are commonplace business tools - and that marketers should be aware of this if we are to effectively target business buyers.
I was prompted to write about this after reading this report from IDG Connect. The latest trends show that 54% of IT and business professionals with iPads 'always' use them for work communication. This is considerably higher than the respondents who use their iPad for personal communication (42%) and even for entertainment (31%). The amount of iPad users who use their device at work rises up to 70% in Africa and South America, with a low of 33% in Asia.
It also seems that consumers aren't just buying iPads for personal use and bringing them to work. In fact, many of these are actually being provided by employers. Throughout the global research, the numbers vary from 47% of devices provided by work, to 10%. It seems that where employers would traditionally give out a laptop or phone to keep up with email, they're now providing iPads.
It's clear that the iPad is making waves as a business device. But another great takeaway from IDG Connect's research is the effect that the iPad is having on the use of other devices. A number of respondents said their iPad has at least partially replaced their smartphone, laptop, PC, mp3 player, TV and games console. With 54% saying their iPad had replaced their laptop and 43% saying it had replaced their smartphone, the tablet is having an impact on everyday lives as well as business practices. This is a key consideration for marketers, who now have some insight into which areas tablets are penetrating.
For example, an important consideration is the design of online assets. Are they optimized for tablets? It's one thing making sure your landing page or online resource centre works on a regular laptop browser, but what is the experience like on an iPad? The message "this content requires Flash" will not come across as a failing of the IOS platform, but as a failure of your brand. Bear also in mind that users of tablets are likely to be more sensitive than most to the user experience; these are the early majority of business users and likely to be more demanding/critical of the technology they use. The attention you give to this platform will either position you as out of touch with new technology, or as a leading light in your industry.
In summary, the research makes it clear that these devices are making an impact as a business tool. They're on the way to becoming as important as the laptop and the smartphone. And this research gives us a little more substantiation to the argument that we should be developing for these platforms. Hope you find it useful.